5 Tips on Listening to Your Local Community

by Mark Votava


Listening has become one of the most important practices for me to develop in my spirituality.  Without listening, I do not think an authentic spirituality can be developed.  Listening is the foundation of a loving presence in our local community.  Without listening, there is no sense of faithful presence to the place we live.

Listening has been transforming my life for over a decade.  As I have become rooted within my local community, I am learning to listen.  I am learning to love.  I am learning to become faithfully present in the place I live.

The neighborhood of Downtown Tacoma has become a part of who I am.  It has shaped local memory within me to see all of life as sacred.  It is the place that I hold dear as I practice listening in everyday life through the ordinary moments of my days and weeks.  Here are some tips that can help you to listen to your local community:

1. Be open to living in the present moment of each day.  We cannot live in the past or the future.  The only moment we have is the one we embrace now in the present moment.  There is no listening to our local community unless we embrace the present moment of each day before us.  Listening can only happen in the present moment.

2. Cultivate an attitude of learning from others while valuing collaboration over competition.  We will not be able to listen to others if we do not learn from others by collaboration.  There are so many amazing things going on in each local community that we do not necessarily have to start new things.  It would be better to learn to listen and collaborate with others who care about the local community who have been there for awhile.

3. Live your life through the paradigm of gratitude.  Gratitude allows us to be open to listening like nothing else in life.  It seems that listening and gratitude are interconnected.  When we practice gratitude, we have a sense of wonder living within us that allow dimensions of listening to our local context to bring us to life.

4. Embrace the mystery of silence and solitude as you are faithfully present over time.  Silence and solitude greatly enhance our ability to listen. We learn to listen when we are alone by ourselves in solitude and this carries over into our relational context.  We need solitude, silence and community to develop a personal practice of faithful presence over time.

5. Have the imagination to see God in the relational context you inhabit.  God lives through our relational context.  God lives in the local community.  Listening helps us to become aware of this.

Which of these five tips do you like the most?  I would love to hear your thoughts about how you listen to your local community!