A Christmas Card in Listening incarnates hope into my soul. Last Christmas I wrote about noise pollution. It’s a year later and now I’m pondering the opposite of noise. Quiet. I often listen in silence so I can hear my heart. And God’s voice: ” ‘Faith comes from hearing(listening), and hearing through the word of Christ’ (Romans 10:17).” I’ve also learned that “listening” faith grows my ability to hear other people: “to look not only to my own interests, but also the interests of others” (Phil 2:4).
In DA:NCE (dance awareness: no child exploited), personal hearing has gone beyond myself into advocating for the best interests of children. Initially, a Christmas card in listening started an organic journey of my own to bring education and awareness to adults in order to stop the hypersexualization of children in dance. At the same time, because of my love of the art form, I wanted to promote the art of dance and its benefits because dance has been deeply meaningful to me. This week I was reading an article by Emmaly Wiederholt from stanceondance.com(Article Title: Protecting Youth in Dance). This section of the interview quoted by professional dancer Leslie Scott (founder of YPAD) struck a listening chord with me:
“I eventually felt like there was something amiss in terms of a healthy community and holistic wellness. I was witnessing in myself a negative impact (from dance) on my own physical and emotional health due to body image expectations and comments, a cultural normalization of absent boundaries, sexualization, sexual harassment on jobs, pressures to dance through injury, etc. I knew I was not the only professional dancer experiencing this. It started to become clear to me as I would stay after class speaking with parents that everything we as adults in the professional industry were going through was trickling down to the children who follow us and look to us as role models………..I’ve not only witnessed healthy boundaries for adults being compromised, but also the exploitation and commodification of children. For example, TV programming in dance has increased 500 percent over the past 12 years. Through that increase, we risk commodification and exploitation of those who use their bodies as a tool.”
Internal listening produces transformation. Leslie was very successful by external cultural norms. She got jobs, made money and taught at major dance studios in Hollywood. It was all going well until cultural reality cracked and Leslie took the time to listen to her heart. She started to question her own hypersexualization and then looked beyond herself to the cultural objectification of the children she taught. By reflecting internally, she changed her perspective. Thankyou Leslie.
Let’s go beyond a noisy culture (with external self-interest, power, money and fame) to realize deeper truths. Soul to sole. Do you take the time to reflect, educate yourself and evaluate your life choices? What is impacting your life negatively that a screeching culture keeps you from hearing? Listening is an intentional skill. Through it, could I ask you to enter into a deeper reality where goodness trumps self-interest? From my perspective, listening beyond my first impulses produces a fuller life, a life pregnant with purpose and meaning. And as I listen, I hear words that translate into transcendent conversations that make me better.
A Christmas card in listening welcomes me to dig deeper and to probe what is best. Check out this short article on the importance of quiet. This Christmas can I invite you to listen beyond the noise around you? Every day is an opportunity to hear. I am thankful for you, excited about the newsletter that we plan to launch this month, and blessed by a God who cares about all of us.