Friday, August 12, 2022

Listening as an Act of Love

A few weeks ago, I posted a book about listening to godly sounds. Violinist Joshua Bell playing in a subway was the story in that post. Check it out HERE. Today’s listening is about perhaps the most holy kind of listening we humans can do... listening to a family member, friend, or even a stranger who is hurting. This is the best book I know about that holy practice. Like other excellent picture books, it is rich with tender meaning and encompasses all kinds of humanity, including humor, in its clever images and words.

Picture Book: The Rabbit Listened

Author & Illustrator: Cori Doerrfeld 

Summary: Taylor, a young child, begins to build “something amazing.” This wise author doesn’t use pronouns so Taylor can be whoever you want. Disaster strikes and all blocks fall! Taylor does too.

A series of animals comes to help Taylor cope. There’s a chicken that talks too much, an angry bear that wants to yell on Taylor’s behalf, and an elephant who wants to help Taylor remember. The ostrich’s strategy is predictable! The snake’s suggestion made me ssssmile.

“But Taylor didn’t feel like doing anything with anybody.” Yay, Taylor for knowing that! Once finally alone and in the quiet, Taylor is quietly joined by a rabbit. We don’t know if they are friends. Does it matter? After the silence, Taylor asks the rabbit to stay. Then the rabbit listens and listens and listens. Now that Taylor is ready, some of the responses that were suggested earlier now feel just right. Taylor vents, blames, and remembers. Again, “When the time was right,” Taylor details plans to build again. The rabbit listens some more as Taylor dreams of an even more amazing build next time.

Hanna’s Comments: Did you think of yourself as you heard my quick summary? I hope so! Did you think of others who have tried to help you, but the timing or remedy wasn’t right? They didn’t come in quiet, did they? Long ago, I remember hearing Krista Tippett on the On Being podcast interview Parker Palmer about a terrible bout of depression during which he was in the bed for days, maybe weeks. A friend came regularly to give him a silent foot rub. Wow! What love! What empathy! What a godly neighbor!

Original Publisher: Dial Books, 2018

Age Appropriateness: 3 and up

Formats other than Book: Audio & tablet

Scripture Connections: Any scripture about God being a comforter and listener. So many! The great commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself! Any Jesus story where his first response is to listen. Ruth and Naomi, because they were present for each other through a difficult series of tragedies and a long, dangerous journey! I bet they took turns listening. Why don’t we talk about their journey more?

Connections to The Revised Common Lectionary: I have listed this book for 4 lessons in my 3-year RCL-based Trinity Treasures preschool curriculum. Those 4 lesson themes are: The Trinity: Our Helpers, God Hears Cries, God’s Mothering Love, and Ruth & Naomi.

PBT Applications: Read this book to a group of young parents or teens. Then talk about the power of being present to (and not immediately fixing) another’s pain. Then you LISTEN as they tell stories of listening, not listening, and not being heard. Together vow to do better because it is a godly practice, good for all of us. 

One more thing: (forgive me) I know a few pastors who could use this book. There's a gift idea! 

If you are interested in learning more about my Trinity Treasures, a scripture based preschool Sunday school curriculum that features picture books & children’s Bibles, contact me at hannaschock@bellsouth.netRight now, free lessons are emailed if you agree to fill out the monthly feedback form.

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