“People tire quickly of conversations that are simply ongoing narratives, endlessly repeated narratives, of another time.”
– Joan Chittister
Aunt Nancy is 93 years old. Her husband died a few years back. She now lives in assisted living, but is doing well, all things considered.
As she sat inside on July 4th, away from the heat, different guests at the cookout would wander in and out of the house. And occasionally sit down for a visit with Aunt Nancy.
By mid-afternoon, I was seeking escape from the heat, too. Aunt Nancy was the perfect respite.
As I sat with a few others in my mother-in-law’s living room, we talked with Aunt Nancy. She told us some things we already knew. And some surprising things, too—her memory isn’t what it used to be—that we could easily weed out.
But content aside, it was simply being together that we enjoyed.
We weren’t looking to Aunt Nancy for only facts from the past.
Like other pilgrims on this journey, we look to the generation who walked before us for a lighted path. For a well-trodden road. For signposts that if we keep walking this way, we’ll end up in the right place.
- We listen to hear that regardless, it will work out.
- We listen to hear that God is really good.
- We listen to hear that in the end, we will be fine.
I need to remember that, when I’m on the other side of the conversation. When I’m the “Aunt Nancy.” When I’m the older generation, the Aunt Lisa.
Earlier in the day, before the crowds arrived, I was able to spend a quiet conversation with one of my nieces. She’s beautifully pregnant with her second baby, halfway there. We talked about changes and worries and options.
And what I hoped to pass along to her wasn’t facts, but hope. Faith. Joy. That she’s doing a fine job already. And I know she will continue to, regardless of what comes next.
That “life in all its forms is not only possible but wonderful,” in the words of Joan Chittister.
Relationships aren’t just to relay information back and forth to each other. They are to inspire each other to live better, to live stronger, to live more wisely.
Why We Listen
By the end of the day, Aunt Nancy was wilting. She’d changed from sitting on the couch to lying down on it. I rode with Clara Jo to take Aunt Nancy back to her home.
When we arrived at her assisted living facility, the residents were already gathered in the dining room for supper. Aunt Nancy was excited to be there with them. Even though she had no hunger for food, she was hungry to share her day with her friends.
Before she was even seated, they were asking her about it. “Tell us all about your day, Nancy!” She was ready to talk. And they were ready to listen.
Whether talking to someone ahead of us or someone behind us on our life’s journeys this week, may we all breathe life and inspire love and speak courage into each other.
Isn’t that what we’re all listening for?
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Who do you listen to that is older than you? Are there younger ears listening to your voice? Please share in the comments.
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