a new kind of listening on the last day of hush

The coffee is ready, I gather my books and duck out the back door into the dark of the morning. Staring into the early sky, a project from grade school comes to mind. Black construction paper stretches over a light source. Small hands take turns poking holes with a sharp yellow pencil.

I pause on my way to the small building behind our house, get lost for a moment in the black paper sky boasting a handful of poked out wonder, the tiniest dots of twinkling white made with a sharp point from the other side.

I imagine God holding a giant pencil. Number 2.

The screen door creeks as I open it and walk into our make-shift study, turn on the heat, light a candle. We call it The Man Room, but today it’s a sanctuary. Quietness sings praises and still hands are my sacrifice.

Today is the last day of hush.

But not really.

I’m only beginning to practice the fine art of listening, not just while I’m alone in the presence of God but while I sit among friends and family. I’ve always considered myself a fairly attentive listener. This month I haven’t been able to hide from my dysfunction.

As it turns out, my listening tends to center around me, my own needs, what I might have to gain in the hearing or what I am able to offer that will be helpful or well-received. Realizing this is uncomfortable.

But comfort is highly overrated.

Repentance is freedom. I’m turning from that kind of listening. It is a slow, painful turn but there is hope in this circling. Not just a hope for me, but for us, the community. The church.

These 31 days are left unfinished. I feel like we’ve only begun to turn the key. This morning, I’m at peace with that.

I’ll end this series without fanfare today, but come back tomorrow (or maybe the next day?) where I plan to host a giveaway of some of the books I’ve been sitting with during the series. I hope to see you then. Let’s continue the journey together.

Did you write your own 31 days series this year? Go tell our host The Nester what you thought of the experience!

This is day 31 of 31 Days to Hush. Visit the hush page to see all the posts in the series. If you would like to receive new posts in your email inbox, subscribe now.


  1. says

    thank you for your series, emily. i’ve been talking with my children about listening lately. :) and you have reminded me in this space that the lesson i want them to learn is also for me. taking what you’ve said here to heart. thank you.

  2. says

    “comfort is highly overrated.” yes. And learning daily to listen more, better and for all the grace-filled right reasons. And you have gently pointed me there. Thanks for the quiet and the sweet voice of gentle guidance to bend an ear that hears a heart. the one of God and man.

  3. says

    “As it turns out, my listening tends to center around me,” I was convicted when I read this. Your reads are always an interactive experience. Very alive and tangible. Thank you for this beautiful series.

  4. says

    I’m planning to sit with a book this afternoon in the quiet. My own “hush” moment. I did participate in the 31 Days. It was quite a learning experience and growth.

  5. says

    One question, about “my listening tends to center around me, my own needs, what I might have to gain in the hearing or what I am able to offer that will be helpful or well-received” – what’s the alternative, friend? I mean, I understand that logically it might be listening for the sake of others, but what does that mean, exactly? How does it work?

    Your writing makes my heart happy :)

    • says

      Good question –

      the alternative is to listen with the other person in mind – to be honestly curious, to join them where they are, to be with them – rather than relating what they are saying to my own life and trying to come up with something that will “help” them in the midst of their struggle. It may mean being comfortable with silence, being willing to not say anything at all.

      It’s harder than it sounds. Or so I’m learning.

      • says

        Gotcha, loud ‘n’ clear. I do love learning from you. Perhaps you’ll post updates on how these efforts are coming along, if it ever becomes pertinent…

  6. says

    comfort is highly overrated and repentance is freedom. i needed this today.

    i’m writing for 31 days this year because i needed to force myself back to writing again. this will be only my 3rd time-i don’t know if i was even blogging back in 2012, i’m so late coming to this online table. for some reason this year when i pursue all the buttons i find my head hurts and my soul craves silence and space. today i thought i’d slip over here; “i wonder what emily has written on in the past challenges?” i think this hush series will be a refreshing gift alongside me during this season. clicking on day one actually took me here to the end-which was quite providential, i’m so glad it did.

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