In a recent online forum on prayer, a woman who was raised in the Quaker tradition talked about her understanding of worship as a “listening prayer.” She described her surprise and delight when she stayed with some friends in Belarus and heard them answer the phone. Instead of “hello,” the custom there is to pick up, say, “I’m listening,” and then wait for the speaker to talk on the other end of the line.
This is certainly a very open way in which to begin any conversation, on the phone or otherwise. It assures the party making the call that the one receiving it is fully present and engaged. Answering the phone with these words is much more intentional than merely saying “hello.” “I’m listening” is focused, but agenda-free; creating space for input from the caller….