Sunday, October 7, 2018

Listening is Where Love Begins

Thursday afternoon, I officiated Lacy and Jeff’s wedding ceremony, at the Murphy Community Center, in Murphy, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Lacy and Jeff have each lived such interesting lives, and have accomplished so much. They are both great conversationalists. You really can learn a lot just from talking to them. They each have fascinating stories to tell. 

I believe, though, that that might throw you off in discovering the secret of their relationship. I wanted, therefore, to steer you back in that direction. 

You see, there is a danger in having lived an interesting life, and having the gift of telling a good story. You might begin to think, that it’s all about you. That can be lethal, not only to a romantic relationship, but to any relationship, period. 

Two Jewish comedians, twins who refer to themselves as the “Sklar Brothers” touch on this in their comedy. They claim that many celebrities’ downfall stems from this problem. The remedy they suggest is that each celebrity have a designated “No Man”. This person’s task would be, when everyone else tells the celebrity that because he is the greatest, there is nothing he should not do, is to say, “Dumb idea; not everything is about you.”

This is, actually, an ancient Roman idea. When a victorious general would parade down the streets of Rome, in triumph, there would be one slave, whose job it was to stand with him in his chariot, and whisper that this is all fleeting. 

The common element to these ideas is listening. It is through the act of listening that one realizes and remembers that it’s really not all about you. And, you have to listen even when the other person is not speaking. 

That last part might sound odd. How can you listen when the other person isn’t speaking? Jeff recounts a simple act on Lacy’s part, that clarifies what I mean. They were about to meet for the first time. “We agreed to meet at a Starbucks in Wylie. Shortly before the time selected, she texted me saying she would be late. That showed me that this was an intelligent person with feelings for the other (unmet) person - me”. 

Lacy tells us about this first meeting too: “In our first meeting, I was drawn to his interesting life, knowledge and travels, and he listened to me.” There it is, again. 

They went on a great first date, and when he called a few days later, here’s what happened: “Lacy told me she was sick and feeling terrible. I thought that she needed some Jewish penicillin (chicken soup), and I made her a pot (from scratch) and brought it over to her. She was just amazed...” Again, Jeff listened, and listened deeply, focusing on Lacy’s needs, because he had inculcated himself to realize, that in life, in general, it’s not all about you. No wonder Lacy says about Jeff, “He cares for me like I have never been cared for. 

The Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, once said that “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” And, perhaps the most famous Presbyterian minister ever, Mr. Fred Rogers, wrote once, “Listening is where love begins...” 

Lacy and Jeff, keep doing what you’re doing. Keep listening, keep caring, keep loving, and you’ll go the distance, as you embark on your next shared adventure.

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