The Mayor of Anchorage has extended his Coronavirus emergency proclamation until May 6th. The LP remains on pause at least until then. We are staying abreast of health and safety needs and practices and look forward to returning to our service of face to face, free, confidential and non-judgmental listening as soon as we are able. If you’ve been following the Listening Post, hopefully you’ll feel supported by the fact that the volunteer listeners – though unable to listen in public at this time – still gather once each month (through Zoom for the time being) and continue to do listening practices as a group. Our commitment to ever deepening our listening skills has not been hampered by the virus.
For two Saturday mornings in a row I sat down in front of my computer screen and made myself available for ‘remote’ free listening. I set it up as a zoom meeting that anyone with the link could join and I posted the announcement and zoom link on our FaceBook page as well the home page of the Listening Post website.
The first Saturday I offered this form of listening was 4/11. No new guests showed up, but I was joined by three other LP volunteers for the hour long ‘free listening’ session. As we were all practiced listeners, we comfortably sat together in silence for a few minutes. Sitting in silence is how we are encouraged to begin each listening shift as a way to settle in and ground ourselves so we can be fully present with a guest. Coming out of silence, we shared what was on our hearts and minds with one another.
During that hour we discussed the impact of the coronavirus on our community and ourselves. We shared about unexpected ‘pop-up’ listening we’ve experienced (at a 6ft distance).We also shared about the challenges and the value of using web based technology as a way to be available for others during this time when social distancing is a wise practice. A Zoom meeting as the format for deep listening may not appeal to the masses and yet the four of us in that particular Zoom meeting recognized that it might just work for a few folks. Or at least we wondered if it might.
At some point we will be going back to our regular listening shifts. I do trust that. Will it be different that how we have known it so far? The LP has gone through several big shifts since it began and each time there was a question: ‘how is this going to work out?’ If it is different once we return to our 8 locations where we listen in person, face to face – heart to heart – we can do what we have done since the beginning: be present, listen, and let go of outcome.
I do, though, suspect that our regular service will carry on rather seamlessly or that ‘a change’ might be as simple as noticing more folks want a listening ear. We’ve all be restricted from so many of our familiar forms of socializing, I imagine many people will be relieved to see Listening Post volunteers available once again. Perhaps folks that have seen a listener sitting at, say, Loussac Library, and just walked past as if the listener wasn’t there… maybe they will stop and say “Hi,” or ask “What exactly are you doing? What is the Listening Post anyway?”
We don’t know in advance what might be transformed during this challenging time as we, all over the globe, are impacted in so many ways by the virus. Many of us long for contact with one another, for a hug or for the simplicity of a casual touch – just reaching a hand out to pat a shoulder in concern or in laughter or in any other ordinary human response to one another. Contact, physical and natural. Spontaneous. Can’t get that need met in a video call.
Interestingly, I did hold a second ‘remote’ free listening Saturday on 4/18. I posted it again on our FaceBook page as well as the home page of the LP website.
This time, I was the only one there. For the hour, I held space. If you’ve served long enough at the LP you have done this plenty. It is integral to the art of listening: just being available, plain and simple.
No one joined, no one took me up on my offer of ‘remote listening.’ Still, it was satisfying just to have been available. If you want a hug, you’ll have to wait. But if you want a listener… who knows? Maybe a remote listener will do (if you’ve called anyone during the stay-at-home began… you’re doing remote listening, too!).
in the midst of current challenges, heartaches, and unknowns, we are so grateful for those willing to listen in any form,
Avie & Susan