Silenced Prattle: Strangers Seen and Stories Heard
Updated: May 12, 2021
As a person prone to prattle it is ever more powerful to see just how often I have been stirred into silence.
In my stillness, I have found that people are increasingly willing to share their story: if only they feel an earnest desire to listen radiating from your heart. This work begins with you. The art of Listening, hearing, and being present begins with an intent for silence. By providing a slight space in your day, a stranger’s reflection is able to grow like a young sapling at the fall of a great olden oak.
You see, we are all taught to be great oaks. Our presence is encouraged to stretch out, to reach towards the sky, to soak in as much light as possible, and to fight for a great breadth of coverage. But in this process, we block out the very essence of life that is needed to foster the important growth of connection. By trimming our limbs, by parting our leaves, and by letting light in, the nurturing selfless attention needed for connection is allowed to bloom. By watering the young sapling with care, stillness, and mindfulness, we might just be able to see the return of a species we have nearly extinguished from society: the rarity called community.
What we are not told, is that we as humans, so social and fragile, are meant to grow with one another: not in competition, but in cooperation. Two years ago, through living in a hostel in the international city of D.C., I dwelled with travelers searching for meaning and longing to be heard. From a small village in Nigeria to the City that Never Sleeps, the Big Apple itself, one thing connects us all: our sheepish, childlike curiosity for one another.
If someone asked me to summarize my time there, I don’t know if I would be able to. The mere thought of the city brings a diamond like gleam to my eye. The mere mention of my minute-made friends, forces a contortion from the corners of my lips, stretching them back into a gaudy grin. My experience brings my heart to a hassened beat and a strange fondness falls over the core of my being.
If someone asked me to summarize my time there, I don’t know if I could say anything more than one simple yet omnidimensional word: Love.
My time in D.C. gave me an unimaginable insight into the world of journalism. I meet world renowned leaders such as Jim Wallis and Bernie Sanders. I spoke to thankless dreamers from Italy, Bosnia, and Poland. I walked the streets with fearless future movers and shakers. But most of all, I became friends with dozens of travelers that I have come to care for, neither for what they have accomplished nor for what they aspire to achieve, but for who they are as an individual.
Together, through hearing the stories of strangers, truly dwelling in communion with them, and being willing to meet each where they stood, I believe I have been molded into a new person.
A changed person.
A better person.
My only hope is that my new friends may be able to say the same.