Editor's note: Here's a truth to ponder - not all spiritual companionship happens face-to-face or even by Skype or telephone. Sometimes our listening makes a difference, but the seeker being heard never even knows we are attending. Read this lovely story from a spiritual director who discovered the human frailty and grace that lies beneath political conflict.
Last year, just after the US presidential election, my husband and I drove down to the World Alliance of Interfaith Clergy conference in Marriottsville, MD. On the way, we found ourselves listening to a talk show which was inviting callers to share their feelings regarding the election of Donald Trump. I was struck at the level of anger on both sides. One caller, a strong Trump supporter, was particularly angry leveling venom at those who were now protesting his election. After a follow-up question, she suddenly launched into what could only be called a full-blown tirade.
I found myself becoming more and more irritated. I felt quite sure that had she been in my physical view I would have leveled back in defense. And then, somewhere, tucked in the middle of the tirade, I heard a short phrase (they usually are) that stopped me cold. She said, “My daughter died…” and a little later, “from a drug overdose.” Suddenly, I could hear all of her complaints about the lack of border control, illegal immigrants, health care challenges, financial strain, in a whole new light. And, most of all, I remembered: behind every anger is a hurt.