sacramental listening...

To follow-up on yesterday's musing: Henri Nouwen not only practiced but embodied "listening as a form of spiritual hospitality." What a gift this can be to those yearning to be honored and affirmed. It is my hunch that many people - young, old and in-between - are so lonely and ignored everyday that they literally ache for what I am starting to call "sacramental listening." Placing oneself as a tender and trustworthy ally, willing to hear the heart of another beyond the noise of shame, fear and the emptiness of culture, especially in unlikely places, strikes me as a way of bringing blessing into our broken reality. It is a quiet and cost effective way in which the Word becomes flesh through us.

That was my deep point re: why many bars and music venues seem more accepting and compassionate than churches. I am not saying that bars are more sacred than our houses of worship, they're just less judgmental. And as Fr. Richard Rohr has written: for too long the soul of Christianity has been shaped by shame, guilt and immature notions of atonement. The time is past due for us to grow up and celebrate the joy of the Lord - even in the most wounded among us. As Jung used to say:  when did we see Thee Lord and not love, clothe, feed and cherish you applies as much to each individual as it does to society.

Now this may strike some as weird but I have experienced BOTH AA and some wonderful bars as soul kitchens; they strengthen, support and nourish people when they are at their most vulnerable. So I love 'em both. In each setting I have found radical hospitality and unconditional acceptance in ways that are too often none existent in our faith communities.


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