Monasteries of the Heart

Monks in Our Midst: Alice on listening as an essential life skill

Alice is a long-term member of the Sacred Sisters Monastery of the Heart at the Ohio Reformatory for Women, (ORW) and an oblate with the Benedictine Sisters of Immaculate Conception Monastery, Ferdinand, IN. Sr. Kathryn Huber, OSB, from Ferdinand served as her oblate mentor; as part of her formation, Sr. Kathryn sent Alice questions to answer based on assigned readings from Wisdom Distilled from the Daily by Joan Chittister. Occasionally, we share Alice’s reflections for Monks in Our Midst. 

[In Sacred Sisters Monastery of the Heart,] sometimes I’ll just ask the group a question so we can find an example from Christ’s life that addresses what we are dealing with. Some really great insights come from that. 

The discussion today was particularly interesting because I had a moment of insight that came from a far greater intelligence than mine. We were discussing soft skills vs. hard skills in a workplace. I kept the conversation moving with asking questions. One woman, LaVern, asked me to explain soft vs. hard skill. I started by explaining that an employer can teach us how to use a particular tool, but one of our most important skills is listening. Then I said “soft skills are who you are, hard skills are what you do.” 

While we sit in a Sacred Sisters Monastery of the Heart and talk about listening to the instructions of the teacher – that is not just for quiet prayer time – as with all things Benedictine, it’s a practical and essential life skill.

I sometimes think about how Christ increased His sense of bondedness with the folks around Him and He listened, He asked questions and He responded to their needs in the present moment. I feel that if we do that for and with one another we will increase in our bondedness in Christ and the sense of community will grow.


Questions for reflection: 

  • Alice shares that as we listen to those around us, and we respond to their needs, we build bondedness in Christ and in our community. How has deeper listening impacted your sacred relationships?
  • What other spiritual skills you have found most meaningful or transformative in your life lately?


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