Cultivate: Space to Hear, Space to Heal

by Feb 4, 2016Cultivate14 comments

“Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning,
that without listening speaking no longer heals,
that without distance closeness cannot cure.”
Henri Nouwen, Out of Solitude

I’m on a journey of cultivating space.

Space to hear his whispers.
Space to hear my own heart’s cry.
Space to value hearing, to deeply experience its life-restoring power.

And space to notice others. To hold back my own flurry of thoughts, worries, distractions. To hear the person before me. To invite their hearts out into the open.

How do you honor your own need for this space?

Henri Nouwen, in his book, Reaching Out, explains that we tell ourselves repetitive narratives about reality that keep us in the same paths day after day. Here we are preoccupied and closed to new beginnings, both in ourselves and in others. He writes, “Instead of facing the challenge of new worlds opening themselves for us, and struggling in the open field, we hide behind the walls of our concerns, holding on to the familiar items we have collected in the past.”

When have you created an open field,
the space to nurture a new perspective or welcome a new friend?

Nouwen asks, how can we “expect something really new to happen to us if our hearts and minds are so full of our own concerns that we do not even listen to the sounds announcing a new reality?”

In the realm of leadership, to move these truths into the space of action, I rehearse three words as I coach and support leaders: poise, pause, and precision.

Poise. I believe change is coming, old things are becoming new.

Pause. I hold sacred space open for others to discover, to hear their own voice, share their thoughts and dreams aloud.

Precision. I seek to ask simple questions, cutting out the excess so that others can think through the values, connections, and meaning for themselves.

In this space, I have seen God reveal just how incredibly he’s formed our minds. How capable of change. How bent towards transformation. How skilled at noticing his invitations when we have space, the pause, to step out of the currents of expectation and repetition and into the unknown.

Listen to these words, dear one. What images nudge their way into your heart like an invitation to stand with renewed courage?

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them.”
Isaiah 42:16 (NIV)


  1. Catherine McChristian

    What an encouraging reminder to make the space for God to whisper new expectations and realities into our hearts. Thanks, Sarah!

    • Sarah Bond

      Thank you, Catherine! Praying for your journey and that space to hear his voice of new realities. What hope he creates in us!

  2. Janet Yates

    A wonderful reminder to listen well.

    • Sarah Bond

      Thank you, Janet! Praying for your journey as you listen. I’ve also so appreciated your insights as you dig in and dig out this year!

  3. Karen Davenport

    Thank you Sarah for your thoughtful comments. My mind is always busy running and the quiet I cultivated in my youth is long absent. I continue in my search to find space to be quiet, to dream and more importantly to listen. There are several places in your post that I will revisit and sit with for awhile. Thank you

    • Sarah Bond

      Karen, I love your longing to recapture space to dream–may you find opportunities to reclaim that space!

  4. Susan Sage

    Really insightful and thought-provoking. Thank-you.

    • Sarah Bond

      Thank you for reading and posting, Susan!

  5. Joy Martin

    Beautiful! Thank you.

    • Sarah Bond

      Thank you, Joy! Glad to have you on the journey with us!

  6. Laurie

    Thank you for considering the words of Henri Nouwen so carefully and framing three words to help us dig deeper into God’s wisdom. I was introduced to Henri Nouwen by the nuns I worked with in health care- what a gift that has been.

    • Sarah Bond

      I would love to hear more about how Nouwen encouraged you as you served in the health care profession, Laurie! I’ve found great inspiration through his words, too!

  7. Jan Kern

    Wonderful post, Sarah.

    Cultivating space to hear others and to be open to them and with them isn’t easy. Much intentionality about it! And much prayer.

    • Sarah Bond

      Thank you for your encouragement! Thankful to be on this journey with you!

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