My husband and I recently went to see family and friends down South. Driving through Charleston, SC, he said he wanted to visit the main library. The man at the visitors’ center was convinced that the downtown library no longer existed, and I wanted to go to the beach, so we didn’t get to the library there. In Wilmington, NC, we spent a day with dear old friends. We talked about how to find old newspapers on microfilm but didn’t have time to go to the main library. By the time we got to Charlotte, where my daughter lives, I was feeling pretty negative about his insistence on going to the library. I thought my husband was on a wild goose chase for information he could probably find on the Internet, and I dreaded dealing with downtown traffic and parking.
My daughter, though, responded differently. She listened deeply to what he said: That this search was part of his history, that he might not have a chance to visit a library down South again, and that it was the only thing that he specifically asked to do on the whole trip.
She listened, and then she offered to drive him to the central library. Her two teenaged kids, my gorgeous grandchildren, wanted to go along on the adventure, so the four of them drove off without me. Within an hour, my daughter texted a picture of my husband and the kids peering at microfilm, and shortly thereafter, another text arrived that they had found what my husband was looking for!
They came back with printouts of six articles from the Charlotte Observer in December 1951 about the loss of two Navy pilots and the discovery of their wreckage days later. They were part of a group of pilots flying Corsairs back to their home base in Sanford, FL. My husband and most of the other pilots had turned back because of the terrible weather, but those two continued on and crashed in a swamp. Finding the articles about this catastrophic event meant bringing back a piece of my husband’s history.
In Wellspring, deep listening is the foundation of everything we do, and it is second nature in our Wellspring groups. But it doesn’t always happen easily in other situations. It took my daughter’s really listening deeply to my husband for me to understand that deep listening isn’t just for Wellspring — we need to listen to the truth behind the words in everyday relationships. We need to suspend judgment and quiet our minds to hear what someone is trying to tell us. It may surprise us.