Hand Them the Chalk

Think of that person who gets under your skin.  Maybe they do something that you do not like.  Maybe they do not believe what you believe or think how you think.

What would happen, though, if you became genuinely, intentionally curious about them?  What if there was no aversion, only an intense desire to learn how they see the world?

Here is one way in.  Picture yourself in a classroom with them.  Now, hand them the chalk and go sit down.  Let them teach you.  Don’t interrupt them.  Don’t prepare a rebuttal while they are talking.  Let them really sketch it all out for you.  Let them cover the whole board.

When we are able to listen like this, a whole world opens up.  Our vision becomes expansive.  We see that they, like us, carry fear, and this fear makes us all do things that don’t make sense.  We see a way forward in relationship.   

These days, I think this is what is meant, in the prayer of St. Francis, by the lines: “O Master, let me not seek as much…to be understood as to understand…”

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