Listen, Child of God, to the guidance of your teacher. Attend the message you hear and make sure that it pierces to your heart.
—The Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue.
Saint Benedict taught me the importance of listening, but my daughter Anna taught me how to listen. I didn’t have a choice.
Anna has childhood apraxia of speech. She’s mostly understandable now, but when she was first diagnosed she was all but indecipherable. I had to listen carefully, not just to the sounds she made but to the context of what she was saying. And I had to listen and watch for clues.
Any clue, to have any idea what she was trying to communicate. Tone, facial expressions, and body language—any signs I could decipher to help me figure out what she was saying.
She is my child, and I teach her many things. About the world and the way it works, about life, and most importantly about God. But she teaches me too.
How to love and how to listen, both more deeply than I thought was possible.