According to Richard Stone, in his book The Healing Art of Storytelling, generous listening creates a "sacred space in which anothers's words are contained and transformed into hallowed speech." I like the idea of generous listening.
Too often, listening involves hearing what we want to hear, and as Stone says, we use "the world of experience and the people who inhabit this world to carry out our various agendas." This is not generous listening. It is listening for our own purposes.
Stone writes that generous listening is intentional and responsible. The generous listener pays attention to the minutest details and offers healing to the story teller.
In my own experience, the generous listening of others to my own story frees me from those things in my story that hinder my soul growth. And as a spiritual director, I have learned that offering generous listening to others' stories, not only promotes healing in the teller, but also gives me, the listener, a new story that offers healing to me as well.
True listening is generous listening, and generosity is one of those virtues I want to practice.
Photo: Nymphs Listening To The Songs of Orpheus, by Charles François Jalabert: FromWikimedia