The Good Listener by James F. Sullivan

The Miracle of Understanding

I believe that listening is the most important tool we have for healing.  I respect it so much that I am thrilled when I come across a book on it. 

This book was recommended by a teacher of a Christian healing prayer course.  And I was delighted at the thought that I could order it, receive it, and sit down in a comfortable chair with it to savor its contents.

Running down the right side of the cover of this slender volume are words that the author thinks describe the art of listening: compassion, caring, healing, respectful, loving, patient, attentive, and empathizing.

Inside the covers are twelve not-very-long chapters.  Each easily read before bed, or when sitting down for a cup of tea.  Titles of these chapters include, The Ways We Listen Poorly, Listen: Friend of Intimacy, and The Healing Power.

Mr. Sullivan was a counselor at a religious consultation center and spent many years listening to people who made religion the center of their lives.  This work guided him to realize that listening was a means of communicating to his client that he understood what they were going through, which, in turn, served as a significant catalyst for the person’s healing.

Mr. Sullivan saw that listening, just that simple act, held an unspeakable power.  A power that when done well could bring about great good in someone’s life, but when done poorly, could bring about great harm.

I have lived a long and very unusual life, but it wan’t until less than ten years ago that I met someone who would listen to me with comprehension and compassion.  I gave him all my odd thoughts and he gave me understanding and counsel.  This seemingly small thing changed my life.  I am a different person today because of it.

That is the power of being heard in an comprehending manner.  It can heal lives.

As it healed mine.

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