Sunday, September 28, 2014

Listen to the sadness

September 28, 2014
Day 151

I'm a big proponent of optimism and hope.  I have tremendous belief in both, and I honor the power of optimism and hope in all matters through and throughout my life.

That said, I've also learned over the past four decades how important it is to listen to the sadness.

Sadness is going to come in and out of your life all the time.  Sadness is likewise going to come in and out of your loved ones' lives.  If you're a teacher, a preacher, a manager, or just a caring human being in any other way, it's important to remember that sadness will come in and out of others' lives as well.  None of us can escape sadness, as much as we may try.

And so we honor all sadness everywhere by listening to it.  Not loving it, not hoping for more of it or cheering it on, but absolutely listening to it.

When I started this blog entry online, I searched for an appropriate picture to go with this reflection.  I searched in Google for "sadness", picked one out from a random site, and then just as I was about to close the page, I saw the phrase "searching for sadness".

We're not searching for sadness, but we can search in the sadness.  We can look for the message or the lesson worth taking from any sad moment or experience.  Some sad times are just awful, and they tell us nothing but sadness, but even then, even in the darkest moments, we ought to take the time to listen.  Listen to the sadness, and honor the moment.  Don't offer some trite phrase or hopeful comment, but rather just listen.

Paul Tillich told us, "The first duty of love is to listen," and in the saddest moments that we or our loved ones experience, it is the only thing we can do.  Listen.  Honor the pain by staying quiet.  Give the sadness its due by allowing the sadness to express itself naturally.  Listen to all the negativity, especially if the stream of it cannot be stopped.  Honor all the pain, give all the darkness its moment to breathe, and help your loved one, student, patient, colleague, parishioner, or even the stranger in your midst by just shutting your mouth and listening, listening to the sadness.

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