Now, I'll grant you Starbucks isn't always quiet, but I can usually tune it all out….except for today. A group of seven men were sitting at a table a little bit away from me. Seven men, loud voices….ok, I can deal with that. But then one of the men (the loudest and the center of attention) started talking about the Catholic church and how collections are going toward lawsuits, what a farce it all was. Then he mentioned Easter bunnies and Easter eggs. He was trying his darndest to get one of the men to debate the issue…..but the guy didn't take the bait. He just sat and LISTENED. Now my assumption is that the Listener was a Catholic. Next on the loud man's agenda was the government, then the minimum wage issue. But still the Listening man just LISTENED, every now and then interjecting something or nodding. But clearly he was not going to debate or become loud as his table mate was. At one point I put my finger in one ear, trying to drown out the voice. (But then I couldn't journal!)
My initial reaction when I heard him bash the Catholic church was to say (in my head) "what is your real problem, mister?" And then I got to thinking about the wise Listener. And I started thinking about times when I listen, and times when I don't listen. Hmmmmm, interesting. The loud man didn't have time to listen because he was so bent on being the speaker (of the house). Nothing anyone else would say was important to him, really. He just wanted to be heard.
Are there times when we just want a captive audience….when we don't care what someone else has to share or what their opinion is? When we want to change another person's mind?
I am grateful that I had this brief experience this afternoon…as a reminder that we are each called to listen to one another. As Fr Joji said at mass this morning, sometimes we are called to be silent….and not the limelight.