"Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That's the problem," noted author of Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne.
It is a problem.
Listening is part of a dialog.
That is, unless one relishes talking without respect for a response from the one listening to the monolog.
Practicing my listening skills is as artful as communicating well without a lot of words.
When Cara, my four-legged, brown and black dog emerges, I know she wants something, if only recognition by way of a 'pat' on the head.
I've learned to stop and play a bit as she often jumps up on my lap at the computer.
Yes, I may be too busy for her, but, Cara has taught me to take time out amid a deadline for a newspaper story, the need to get to a pastoral visit, or, being on time for Mass, or confessions.
On the other hand, Woofie, my pure white Bichon, often wonders who is getting all the attention in the house.
If I listen, I feel her feelings of being forgotten or left out at times.
You know, a parent goes to the one who needs dad or mom most at any given moment.
And, Cara was spayed weeks ago with a transparent, circular cone crown decorating her head, and having her band into everything, it seems.
Free now of that piece, she is back to her usual self.
That is, frisky, vibrant and with ears always perked high in vigilance.
Listening to both companions affords rapport and wellness.
Both teach me much.
Listening, mostly, to what they are attempting to tell me in their world totally devoid of twenty-six letters of the English alphabet.
Nevertheless, they are effective teachers when I pay attention.
After all, that's what spirituality is all about: Awakening to the present moment.