Each time I sat down with her, I noticed she leaned forward. No, it was not a symptom of back problems. She leaned forward in a way that her physical posture spoke a language of care and personal interest. Leaning forward is a hallmark of great listeners.
It is natural to reflect on someone’s life and the way that their words impacted you for the better. But what stands out to me is what she did NOT say. And by that, I mean that there were numerous times in my conversations with her in which she allowed space for silence. As a great listener she created space for others to hear God’s Voice. It was like she knew that God had something to say to us, and she didn’t want her words to get in the way.
She created that space, paradoxically, by leaning in closer.
The last few visits I had with her in the hospital, she was thirsty. She motioned for ice chips in the paper cup beside her bed. I’m sure she wanted to chug a tall glass of water. But she was limited to small amounts of ice.
Truth be told, she lived her entire life thirsty. Her relationship with Jesus quenched and satisfied in ways that nothing else – or no one else – could.
Her day began in a chair by the fireplace, Bible open and journal nearby. Then she’d chewed on those Scriptures all throughout the day, like ice chips soothing a dry and parched throat.
She herself was a cup of ice chips. Many people – myself included – tasted Living Water through time with her.
Psalm 42:1-2 As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
Did you catch that closing question? “When shall I come and appear before God?“ I don’t know when “the day” will be for me when I leave this earth and appear before God. I don’t know when that will be for you either. But for her — my thirsty, leaning-forward-friend — she appeared before God on January 27”. And when she entered heaven, I bet I know what God did…
He leaned forward.
Yes. The two of them, leaning in towards one another. It’s what great listeners do.