Genuine, receptive listening opens people’s hearts
The month of February is dedicated to love, no matter how dreary the weather may be in some places. Annually honoring Saint Valentine’s Day reminds couples to take their relationships seriously. A romantic dinner, kind gestures, love letters, and gifts express one’s love for another. But what couples really crave, in my opinion, is someone who will listen. Not just sit there and say, “yes dear,” but truly listen — with all one’s heart, mind, and soul.
Listening is loving. It’s a lost art today. Even with the most advanced communications technology, we don’t know how to listen as people made in God’s image and likeness.
This month we might take note and give loved ones what they want most: a sense of being heard and loved.
People know me as the “cooking priest,” and may ask, what does listening have to do with food and cooking? Quite a lot, actually. It relates to the ability to discern what another is hungering for and trying to communicate. It’s like the unconditional love parents instinctively have in listening, hearing, and understanding what a crying child is trying to indicate. It’s the love that God has for His children when the scriptures say, “What father, if his son asks for a fish, will instead give him a serpent?” (Luke 11:11).
Let’s consider some simple lessons about listening with the heart:
We sometimes hunger for things that aren’t good for us. Our Good God, a loving listener, will sometimes respond to our requests with a revolting taste, bitter herbs of truth, or a “time out” in order to heal disordered appetites. Do we know how to communicate what we really desire?
Listening to a person isn’t just understanding words, but grasping the totality of the person’s experience. Are we courageous enough to listen without judgment?
When it comes to loving disagreeable spouses or challenging family members, it might require us to ask ourselves, “What is God trying to say to me when I speak to this person who is tough to tolerate?” Do we know the “lesson” God is teaching in such difficult encounters?
Listening isn’t easy. Yet, God listens to us – and truly hears how our hearts, bodies, and souls grumble. Our job is to listen as God does, which requires discernment, faith, and every Christian virtue. This month, give the great gift that God gives – learn to listen to each other, and in so doing, love one another.
LEO PATALINGHUG IV DEI, priest, author, speaker, TV and radio host, founder of Plating Grace and The Table Foundation. Learn more at FatherLeoFeeds.com
Coconut Curry Mussels • Serves 2-3
Fresh, edible mussels will ‘open up’ when properly cooked. Providing the right ingredients and atmosphere can likewise help people open up in healthy conversation.
1 1/2 pound of mussels, cleaned
1 Tbsp butter
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup white wine
2-3 Tbsp yellow curry powder
1 can coconut milk
1 -2 tsp of “fish sauce” (found in the international section of market)
1-2 tsp of soy sauce
2 limes (1 juiced, other cut into wedges)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili pepper (or favorite hot sauce)
2 tsp honey
1-2 Tbsp of Cilantro leaves (or parsley)
Serve with 4-6 pieces of crusty bread, or 1/4 lb. cooked angel hair pasta.
In a large pot, melt butter and sauté onions and garlic. Add wine; cook for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add yellow curry powder and mix together before adding the coconut milk, fish sauce, the juice of one lime, salt, pepper, and honey. Stir together. Carefully add mussels to pot; mix together, then cover for 2-3 minutes, or until mussels have opened. Stir all together so mussels are coated with the sauce. Plate with extra lime wedges, top with cilantro leaves, and serve with crusty bread or pasta.