Over the weekend, and after much pressure from my friend, Jerome Goodley, I watched an ABC special featuring Pope Francis. The faithful of all ages gathered in congregations across the nation and the Pope visited with them via the web. Many children and teens were invited to tell their stories and ask the Pope a question. I was beyond happy to watch the Pope model Holy Listening with children so perfectly!
I am going to write about one child, but if you want to see what Holy Listening looks like, watch the special … he seriously blew me away! http://abcnews.go.com/International/video/watch-full-abc-news-papal-virtual-audience-english-33518680
A little girl, with skin discoloration issues on her face, told him about her struggle with bullying and how singing had helped her heal. The Pope listened, deeply and intently to every word she spoke. He was non-anxious, leaning forward and his face expressed interest and compassion.
After sharing for long time, she finally asked the question that they producers had clearly helped her come up with. But, before Pope Francis answered her question, he asked, “Will you sing me a song?”
He could have simply answered her question … begun his theological teachings directed toward the thousands of adults watching the special… but instead, he asked her to sing a song for him. He had heard her… not her question, but her soul… he had listened! And that is an example of perfect Holy Listening!
Then, the Holy Listening continued when, of course, she was nervous to sing. And, instead of worrying about the dead time on TV, the Pope kept encouraging her. This child was his total focus. Finally, she sang a holy song. The lyrics were not religious in nature; the song was HOLY because, “Whenever two are gathered in my name, I am there.” The Pope and this little girl had gathered and God was present!
This was a moment this little girl will never forget: she was blessed by an adult who had heard her! And don’t be fooled… The Pope was blessed as well. When adults listen to children, both the children and the adults are blessed… always!