Five Minutes

Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

This is written for Five Minute Friday. The word for today is “Five.”

             Some of you have heard this story before. It is worth repeating because it speaks to the value of what many spiritual directors refer to as, “Holy Listening.”

            I served as a spiritual director to homeless individuals in my former career. My first experience in working with homeless individuals was when I worked as a resource staff member at a homeless shelter. Homeless guests often came to the shelter for basic supplies such as soap and towels to take a shower.

            One afternoon a man stepped into the shelter, his head almost touching the top of the door-frame. He squinted his eyes taking a quick survey of the facility. Then he moved toward the coffeepot, poured himself a cup and stood next to the coffee maker warming his hands. Other people walked past him and a few said hell-o. He said nothing. I left my office and walked into the kitchen where he stood almost at attention, staring out the window over the sink.

“Hell-o, How are you doing today?”

No response.

I waited

No response.

Finally, he turned toward me startled by my presence. His bright blue eyes glistened with tears as he mumbled an answer.

Two weeks later, I learned this tall, stoic man was a marine. He told me that it took him five minutes to realize I was still waiting for his answer the first time I asked him how he was doing. He added, “I didn’t respond because no one has ever waited long enough to hear my reply.” Then in barely a whisper he said, “Thank you…for waiting.”

9 thoughts on “Five Minutes

  1. David A. Burnet August 2, 2019 — 4:19 pm

    Well done! Well written.

    I am deeply touched.

    Like

    1. Thank you David. I appreciate your feedback.

      Like

  2. Charlotte Saponas August 2, 2019 — 10:28 pm

    Yes!! I love this.

    Like

    1. Thank you for sharing this. It’s good to be reminded that people respond differently and not necessarily the way I want so I need to just listen.

      Like

      1. Yes, listening is so important. Thank you for commenting and especially for your “listening.” 😉

        Like

  3. Oh the powerful lesson in this story! I am so guilty of asking others how they are and barely pausing to listen for an answer. Thank you for the reminder of how important it is to wait!

    Like

    1. Thank you for reading. Yes, waiting is the key to healing in my opinion. Few people tell us how they “really” are when first asked.

      Like

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