Listening with the Heart

Date: Tuesdays, beginning March 1
Time: 7 pm
Location: Orthodox Chapel (Christie House Basement)

How many of you are familiar with StoryCorps? You might know it as the segment that comes on your favorite public radio station. You end up stopping whatever you are doing to listen to a couple of folks having a relatively short and very intimate conversation with each other that sometimes ends in tears, likely yours. Have you ever heard one of these segments and wondered, “Where did they get the courage and strength to be that vulnerable and honest with one another?” Have you ever thought, “I want to be able to do that, but I don’t know where or how to start?” Fr. Peter Snow and Carmen Hoffman, LMFT, have developed an 8-week course to help us listen to ourselves and one another deeply and with grace. Registration is required. If you are interested or have questions, please email Carmen Hoffman.

From Carmen

I listen a lot. It’s what I do for a living. It’s a great job.

The best times for me are listening to the older couples who have lived through years of the rough and tumble of give and take, growth and stagnation, inspiration and exhaustion. These couples teach me true mysteries of marriage; of relationships grown increasingly intimate because they chose, time after time, to turn towards each other for strength, comfort, fun, and industry. In the process they not only know their partner, but also themselves. Together they learn the nature of Love itself.

There is a parallel for me between this most intimate of human relationships and knowing God. Some folks like the idea of marriage but never join—perhaps due to lack of know-how or will. Others like the “practice of marriage” involving kids, social currency, convenience, etc. but the relationship never transcends into intimacy.

Is becoming intimate with God so different? Of course it is. God is, after all, Love itself. (It is a tipped scale, but in our favor.) But are the practices of intimacy similar? Curiosity, attention, desire, turning towards, seeking, listening, taking time, adoring, gratitude—all these make for intimacy. And many of these behaviors can be learned.

This class is meant to help you to become more intimate with yourself and God. How? Through listening with your heart and learning the behaviors of intimacy. It’s a challenging and rewarding endeavor enhanced by our practice of worship and liturgy.

From Peter

I hear strong agreement on the importance of our emotional selves, of knowing ourselves, of improving one’s emotional IQ, and much more. I want to provide those who join Carmen Hoffman and myself for this workshop tools and strategies to explore their emotional lives or experience their souls. This is difficult work, but for the Christian, the job is made easier by the work of the living Christ working in us. How does this happen?

The Risen Christ stands at our door and knocks, but the latch is in our hands. To open to his presence requires a steadfast courage and a willingness to experience ourselves as he knows us. Just how do you do this? I want to give you the tools to make it easier. Theological and psychological concepts together help us understand what we are about. Your use of the liturgy, prayer, meditation, and participation in the church community will all be much enhanced. Week by week therefore you can pursue your hope for a springtime of the soul.

This workshop is therefore not for the faint-hearted but for those who are intentionally set on growing spiritually. I will offer you tools I have found helpful, strategies I have developed for my own use, and understanding that has given cohesion to my spiritual search.

This is no therapy group, for as in any spiritual exercise you have to take responsibility for yourself. What all of us at the workshop can do is create a safe environment where each of us can share, learn, and dare to think through all our myriad experiences, lay them out, and take them back up, owning them consciously and decisively. Thus we will open ourselves and invite the Risen Christ to work in us that for which he dared the suffering of the cross. This will be no less than our emergence towards eternal life.