"Benedictine listening is about more than attending to the Scriptures, praying, and being sensitive to the needs of those around us, though. Benedictine listening is about seeking out wise direction as well. It is one thing to try to hear what is in front of us. It is another to willingly expose our ideas to the critical voice of a wiser heart.

"Seeking wise direction — as the monastic does by living in the community and trusting its elders, its wise, its holy ones, its simple ones — is central to personal growth. Wives do that for husbands; husbands do that for wives; parents do that for children; counselors do that for clients; employers do that for employees. We must all learn to listen to the truths of those around us. We are poor shadows of listening hearts if we think that listening has something to do with simply taking orders. No, listening has something to do with being willing to change ourselves and change our world. Listening is a religious discipline of the first order that depends upon respect and leads to conversion."