Sunday, July 18, 2010
Listening for the Sake of Loving
The Calvin group was thrilled to have Aminah Bradford, one Calvin’s Associate Chaplains of Residence Life, speak to us on Monday night. Using the story of Job, we learned about and shared ideas on attending to suffering people. As leaders, and as members of the Christian faith, we may be called to be with and have compassion for those that are hurting. There will even be times when we, ourselves, are hurting. Learning to listen for the sake of loving, and for the sake of leading, is an important factor in living out Christ’s teaching in our lives.
To do this, we first had to learn some of the wrong ways to listen. Relying on the acting talents of the Calvin group, we had to engage a “sufferer” using assigned, cliché, mishandled attempts at being considerate. Some of us were “Generals” who told the sufferer exactly what he needed to do and when. Others were “Quick Change Artists” who turn the conversation another direction. Some were “Interrogators,” barraging the sufferer with questions about how he got into this state. And some coddled the sufferer, offering cookies and saying, “oh, you poor, poor thing.” This was the “Granny Cup of Tea” group.
The lesson we learned from this was that all these methods, while none of them inherently or all-together bad for dealing with someone in pain, rely on vapid attempts at comfort without being truly compassionate. True compassion, literally meaning “to suffer with,” is what the Bible expects of us in dealing with others’ pain. “How can I be with them in this?” is the question we should ask before “how can I fix this?” Jesus, of course, reveals the most magnificent and pure act of compassion. Not only did he suffer with his people, he suffered for us.
To mark the middle of the program and to allow the Calvin group to bond, while thinking about where they’ve been this summer and where they’ll go in the future, the LCI had a retreat to Meadow Creek Reservoir. We played and explored around the lake, following it up with tin foil dinners around the campfire. We dedicated an hour of our evening to solo-time—a chance to quietly and solitarily reflect on God’s work in our lives and through this program. We returned to make smores, set up tents, and sleep. In the morning, the men and women of the Calvin group returned together for morning worship until it was time to leave and we returned to SMR for work and a strong finish to the summer.