Friday, April 25, 2014

Hearing Stories

Medical Brigade in Honduras, 2014

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe
Psalm 107: 2 (NIV)

Sometimes you are unaware of the privilege of “taking a history” and hearing the patient’s story until that is a rare part of your life.   It is one of the realities of retirement.  The recent exception was a week in Honduras with a medical brigade from Mt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church.  I was able to hear and see people telling their stories with people ready to listen.

At another time in Honduras (1998), I was told that “Being able to tell the story is the beginning of healing”.  What is also true is that it requires a listener and we are all called to be those people as noted by Dietrich Bonhoeffer at a much earlier time (1954). 

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love to God begins with listening to His word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives us His word, but also lends us His ear”
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (1954), pp. 97-98

There is another component that happens when you are a part of the story.  This is a special kind of “active listening” that is empathetic.  It is not passive and distant!   It is the heart of healing!

Thanks for the healing power of stories!


Hage, M. L (2014). Returning.  Retrieved from
Hage, M. L. (2013). Difficult Conversations. Retrieved from

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