Sometimes somebody asks you the exact question you need to hear in the exact moment you need to hear it. When this happens it seems incredible….serendipitous even. Tea and Tolerance’s visit to Trinity Church as part of Compass Live Festival was witness to a number of these experiences. I wonder – does the perfect question find us, or do we hear what we need to hear in the questions we find? It’s an interesting thought.
So another evening of the roaming tea trolley. Outside it’s dark and the rain is lashing down. The battery on the car goes ‘kaput’ at the entrance of the church. Kind man walks through the rain to get his van to help us. A jump start for later. It’s tricky and inconvenient. Life, yes. And even so, this is our time for talking, listening, sharing…so we do. How much do we humans wish to be listened to?
The location – a confessional place. A place to say things that are not shared with everyone, or perhaps even with anyone. Intimate and lovely conversations. Here’s some of the questions and thoughts that came up….
When do we ask for help? If we rarely ask, why is that? Sometime I don’t ask because I am not willing to hear ‘no!’ Is it somehow worse to ask and have that request turned down? How does that feel? If we know people who do not ask for help even though we may see or feel there is a need for help….how do we support them? I think there is something in how requests are met that is important. Requests met with anger, with guilt, with sympathy can perhaps be requests we wish had never shared. And what if we are met with empathy? Does the yes/no matter if the person gets where we are coming from? Maybe not.
What matters to you most? Does the answer have to be ‘others’? Is it selfish if that person that matters most is you? We wondered..can we really be there for the people we love, if ourself isn’t the person who matters? After all, you are the only person you cannot live without ( well aren’t you?) Though others are perhaps the reason to live.
In whose interest? What do we mean? Is it our own interest we wondered, because how can it be anybody else’s? Is there even such a thing as an action that is entirely ‘altruistic’ with no personal gain? Ah, now that question makes so much sense.
What makes you angry? Things happening that I feel are unfair. Things that I have no power to change but I am unable to accept. Is this perhaps the state of intolerance making me feel angry?
Can you love someone even though you do not agree with their beliefs? Yes -simply put, of course I can. Whether I always do, that is less easy. Is spirituality a dirty word? Interesting question whilst sitting ‘in the house of god’.
What does it mean to be completely listened to? As we pondered this question, the background noise was loud. We leaned in to hear a little better. Is listening completely a particular choice or intention? It perhaps takes a certain level of openness and concentration and an absence of ‘I’ or Ego’ or self concern. There is an absence of opinion. You could say in listening completely, it is the person who is speaking that matters most. I think listening completely is a lot like empathy…here’s a definition I found on a comment about a RSA talk on the power of Empathy that I think fits well with what we were discussing.
“It’s not so much about sympathizing with people and making them feel better with things or with stories … it’s about connecting with people, relating…”
And more questions…..
If you could change anything, what would you change? What makes you hopeful? What are your strengths? What would you answer? How much is too much? ( This was a question added by a participant at our tea trolley at Summat New!.)
Questions added and comments shared…
What is your favourite thing about everyone in this circle? How can you be an LGBTQ rights activist? Nature or nurture? Who do you wish you had never met? I thought this might be patronising, but it wasn’t. It was actually the highlight of my evening. It’s like free therapy. It surprised me what I talked about…stuff I don’t usually share with anyone.
When you are angry, how do you express it?
( This final question…the ‘asker’ would be very interested in future responses to this question.) If you have a question do post it in replies/comments or send to us on Facebook
Thank you for reading. Peace and Love