Listening is Where Love Begins
It’s funny how many details of life can slip by you if you aren’t paying attention. There is a large new building being constructed on Route 9D that leads to Randolph School, and I have become so accustomed to seeing it on my drive every day that for a while I forgot to marvel at the way in which the workers swarm the wooden frame with the grace of gymnasts, or to wonder at the sheer amount of dirt that has been moved around the site on a daily basis. I wasn’t paying attention the same way I had been.
This can happen at the school as well. There are days when I am very attuned to all the marvelous activity happening with the teachers and students, and there are some stretches when my head is focused on other things. When I refocus, it usually feels refreshing and I am almost always newly appreciative of some aspect of the work being done on our campus.
This week I find myself noticing the way our teachers create time and space to have conversations with the children. A martian visiting our school might conclude that we have some strange rule that requires all adults to make themselves the height of the children, because our teachers are constantly bent over, or on knee, or crouched down, or simply sitting next to a child. They are almost always deep in conversation, creating a safe space for thoughts and emotions to emerge, listening patiently as the students struggle to find the words that accurately express their frustrations, desires, and joys.
I sat with a three-year-old boy yesterday who wanted desperately to tell me about a sadness in his life. His family dog had passed away recently, and in all the playing, building, drawing, singing, and jumping he had done that day, he had not yet found an outlet for his grief. Taking my cue from our teachers, I found an empty table for us to sit privately. As he continued to talk, we began to craft a note to his dog together, in which the boy was able to say to his lost pet friend the words he had bottled up inside of him: I miss you.
It feels like so many of us desperately need that safe space these days in which we can be assured that our thoughts and emotions are being attended to and respected. A place to hear each other say “I am hurting,” “I am angry,” or “I am frustrated beyond belief” and to offer validation, compassion and understanding in response. As the wonderful Fred Rogers once said, “Listening is where love begins.”