October 22, 2020

Kimberly Mason: Listening as Radical Hospitality


Note from CM: On New Year’s Day I read this brief but profound post at Kimberly Mason’s blog, The (Almost) Daily Office. Kim lives in the Great Northwest on an old farm and blogs about her outdoor journeys, her journeys into prayer and service, and her journeys in quilting, icon painting and creativity. She is also a postulant with the Sisters of St. Gregory (Episcopal). I encourage you to visit her blog regularly for a breath of fresh air. Today, I hope you will think long about her wise words on the subject of listening and hospitality.

* * *

Listening as Radical Hospitality
by Kimberly Mason

Listening is the oldest and perhaps the most powerful tool of healing. It is often through the quality of our listening and not the wisdom of our words that we are able to effect the most profound changes in the people around us. When we listen, we offer with our attention an opportunity for wholeness. Our listening creates sanctuary for the homeless parts within the other person. That which has been denied, unloved, devalued by themselves and others. That which is hidden.

~Rachel Naomi Remen

We Episcopalians can tend to be a little boastful about our practice of “radical hospitality” — and often rightly so! We love our coffee hours, we love to greet guests at our parish with a warm “We’re so glad you came here today!” and we love to work and serve and give. So much energy is put into our welcome, so much care and time in preparation is put into our worship services, so much enthusiasm is put into the building and the maintenance of our community relationships — so much … so much MUCHNESS. All of which takes so much energy and enthusiasm.

But isn’t it good to know that one of the ways we can show our “radical hospitality” to others is to just sit and quietly listen? To really listen. To sit with another and lend an ear, to give through the silence of a loving and understanding heart, to just BE there for one who is in pain.

1504532_10201375083163020_2138458842_nQuiet listening is a radical gift — a gift that echos the gift of listening that God bestows upon us every time we sit down to present him with our petitions and prayers and to pile up our worries and pains and woes at the foot of his altar and ask for his blessing and reach for his helping hand.

Listening breaks down the barriers that often exist between the Me and the Thee, and creates a closer bond between the Me and The Holy One.

Listening creates a home for the lost and wandering. Listening brings comfort to the restless heart. Listening feeds both the listener and the one who needs to be heard as they sit down together at the table of Radical Hospitality.


  1. Thanks you for this great reminder about how listening is such an important and vital tool for healing and growth. All of my times of development and break through as a Christian have come with someone providing tremendous support through listening. Lectures and feedback are noise that can prevent someone from really growing. I am eager to live this out in 2014.

  2. Silently listening to silence is a form of contemplation in the vein of Merton. It’s regular practice, way harder than it sounds as we attempt to break through the circus of regular thought, makes for good listeners.

  3. +1 I’m trying not to speak but to listen :0)

  4. Thanks for sharing, she is now bookmarked.

  5. I am always impressed when reading about L’Abri, the Christian shelter in Switzerland, which was founded on “radical hospitality.” Also, I believe it was Oswald Chambers and his wife who went to Egypt in WWII, lived in a tent ” and ministered thru listening. What a warrior he was for his Lord.

  6. Great post! We had a sermon on this a couple of weeks ago, also including some ways we don’t listen to people. For example, saying things like “Well, this is what happened to me” or giving advice, especially spiritual advice. It sure made me sit up and listen, if you know what I mean. Sometimes the best way to show our love is to listen.

  7. Christiane says

    This post has great meaning for me. I agree that listening is a great kindness to a suffering person. It is not so ‘passive’ as we think, when it is done with empathy and compassion for the suffering of that person.
    I often think of this passage of sacred Scripture when I think of those who have listening hearts for those with a need to unburden themselves of the pain they carry . . .

    ” Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. ” (from Galatians 6:2)

    Listening is a special ministry that is something even lay people can engage in, if they will let go of the need to ‘give advice’ and ‘fix the problem’ and ‘take over’ the situation so as to ‘solve’ what is the trouble . . . in short, they need to be humble before the pain of another person, and let the hurting person talk and share what has hurt them so deeply

    it helps if the listener remains rooted in the fruit of the Holy Spirit . . . where no ‘judgmentalism’ may interfere, and no ego may intrude . . .
    the Peace of Christ is the gift that we may share with one another in a thousand ways . . . listening is one of them

  8. CatelynStark says

    Thanks for publishing this piece. I’ve always felt bad because I can listen to people all day, but I’ve never been able to give good advice. Thank you for confirming that listening is a valid gift.