I just made a coffee date with a friend.  We meet about once a month to check in about life, the universe and everything. The topics flow from what’s going on at home, to what we’re noticing around us, to recent discoveries in the world of science or how to best come alongside our adolescent sons.  It’s great.  I’m grateful.


I just wanted to share that.  Partly because I have the sense that this is becoming a rare practice (which is why I feel grateful).  Lately and for whatever reason, I am aware that in our North American context, there is actually less, and less permission granted for anyone to speak honestly about their lives in the safety of a trusted and mutual friend or colleague.  I think we also feel vulnerable about sharing especially the more challenging aspects of our lives because we are convinced that no one really cares, wants to listen or that somehow, we are burdening them with our “tale of woe”. We suffer in silence having received the message that talking about a challenge or difficulty in our life with a friend is unconventional and that these matters should be discussed with a therapist. 


Don’t get me wrong.  Therapy and counselling are huge assets when we need to unpack issues that are affecting our mental health.  Of course.  But that’s not what I’m considering here.  I’m talking about the basic human need to be together in the context of relationships where there is room for the safe expression of what matters—where simply being heard by one or more friends provides perhaps, the greatest gift of healing.  It is human nature I believe, to need a loving listening ear from time to time.  Sometimes we just need to talk and sometimes, we just need to listen.


It gets worse.  As we provide less and less time for coming alongside each other’s emotional needs we increase our chances dramatically of crashing head long into despair, loneliness, depression and expressions of fatigue, anxiety and stress in families.  As I observe high-functioning, over-scheduled, responsible parents decide carefully about how they’re going to spend their Sunday morning family time, I’m curious if that’s the only family time they have?  And if so, why?  Whether its working families, empty nesters or seniors I’m pretty certain we need more occasions than one morning a week to be available to each other so that we can safely share what’s on our heart and gently listen to what is being said.  Just saying….


Fact is, we need to tell our stories and we need to listen to the stories of others because it matters significantly to our well-being.    It’s why listening and coming alongside each other is such a vital practice within Christian Community.  Fostering a community of help home and hope is garnered by “holy listening”.  Because we know that healing happens when we have been heard.  It starts by creating a safe place, in the circle of God’s light and love, where vulnerability and one’s tale of woe are honoured with acceptance and compassion.  It starts with an invitation voiced with love and served up with a touch of hospitality.  So human yet, so divine.