A priest in a new job is called to spend a whole lot of time listening. Listening to names as people introduce themselves, listening to stories about this event or that one in the history of the parish, listening to the story of the person who used to be in your office or about the church cat or about the baptismal font. Listening to disappointments and fears. Listening to the hopes and dreams people have for the future. Listening beneath the surface conversation to hear that's really on people's hearts as the speak.
I was thinking about the whole listening process the other day in terms of my old book club. Sometimes I didn't like the book we were reading and I'd give up on it before finishing. I was convinced that I couldn't get anything out of it and didn't want to spend any more time on it. But then I'd go to our meeting and listen to the people who did like the book. They told stories about how it affected them, about what reading it did to them, about the connections they drew as they read it, and all of a sudden the book seemed to be much more attractive. Perhaps I should go back and give it another go.
I think we should listen more, don't you?