This past weekend, Rob and I had the pleasure of reconnecting with old friends at the biennial Festival of Faith & Music at Calvin College.  Among them was our friend David Dark (above), whose book The Sacredness of Questioning Everything has been an anchoring influence for us with its prophetic reminders to just chill out and listen: to our doubts, to our neighbors, to our voices in the wilderness.  We returned to Three Rivers for some Sabbath rest and then, on Monday, we gathered for our weekly *cino staff meeting.  Thanks to another friend, Emily Ulmer, we begin each meeting with a centering reflection — usually a quote or a poem.  For this week’s centering, Rob shared a Merold Westphal quote that David used in his book and that previously appeared as a daily asterisk quote:

If I am a good listener, I don’t interrupt the other or plan my own next speech while pretending to be listening. I try to hear what is said, but I listen just as hard for what is not said and for what is said between the lines. I am not in a hurry, for there is no pre-appointed destination for the conversation. There is no need to get there, for we are already here; and in this present I am able to be fully present to the one who speaks. The speaker is not an object to be categorized or manipulated, but a subject whose life situation is enough like my own that I can understand it in spite of the differences between us. If I am a good listener, what we have in common will be more important than what we have in conflict.

Reminds me of something I heard this past weekend, from Chelsea McInturff of the organization Level Ground, which creates safe space for dialogue about faith, gender and sexuality across various divides.  Talking about getting someone who’s gay and someone who’s vehemently anti-gay in the room together, she said that their goal is not to change what people think, but how they interact with one another.  That’s something I’m going to think about for a long time — and hopefully practice, with *cino and otherwise.

Last modified: March 4, 2020