Archive | May, 2012

Listening Adventures

24 May

“I believe we can change the world if we start listening to one another again.  Simple, honest, human conversation.  Not mediation, negotiation, problem-solving, debate, or public meetings.  Simple, truthful conversation where we each have a chance to speak, we each feel heard, and we each listen well.

What would it fee like to be listening to each other again about what disturbs and troubles us? About what gives us energy and hope? About our yearnings, our fears, our prayers, our children?”

Turning To One Another, Margaret J. Wheatley.


Six of us from our campus ministry recently spent a week in Denver with DOOR Ministries.  A major element of our week was conversations, with immigrants and refugees, prostitutes, homeless, each other, our leaders, people in line to hear the Lumineers, our servers at the places we ate, bus drivers, and others.  One student described the trip as “different from all of the other mission trips I’ve been on.  (On) Those we would build things or tear things down or paint things.  This time we mostly listened.  I’m changed because of it.”

One event during the week was on our last night in the area called Red Rocks Park.  We had worked all week. We had traveled by public transportation.  We had met new people.  We had spent a lot of time with the same 6 people! We were taken to this Red Rocks area with the understanding that it was our closing reflection and worship time.  As we traveled up the slope to the trail and along the trail we began to hear music.  As we come upon the empty amphitheater area where our leaders had planned on the gathering us, we discovered it to be closed.  So we stood and listened a little bit guessing the band.  Turns out it was The Fray doing a soundcheck for the concert the following night!  That’s kind of cool.  Not what we planned but cool nonetheless.

So we were led back the trail toward our van.  Along the way we found a cave area where we settled.  As we reflected and sang and prayed, the daylight gave way to the lights of Denver.  To say it was beautiful is to under-describe the view.  Such a gradual transition from the beauty of the day to an even more beautiful night.

I find it tempting, when considering how to do campus ministry, to try to develop a perfect plan/vision/method/setting/funding level/staffing for our campus ministry.  Lately, however, I’m thinking I want to spend more time encouraging conversations as ministry.

“When we’re brave enough to risk a conversation, we have the chance to rediscover what it means to be human.  In conversation, we practice good human behaviors.  We think, we laugh, we cry, we tell stories of our day.  We become visible to one another.  We gain insights and new understandings.  And as we stay in conversation, we may discover that we want to be activists in our world.  We get interested in what we can do to change things.  Conversation wakes us up.  We no longer accept being treated poorly.  We become people who work to change our situation.” – Margaret Wheatley

I would be proud to be part of a campus ministry described like that.  I think it’s possible.  What do you think?

The soundtrack for this blog is Gavin Bryars w/Tom Waits “Jesus Blood never failed me yet” cd.  The story of the cd and the music are worth checking out.


David plays bass trombone in the Cedar Valley Big Band, is past chairperson of the Metropolitan Transit Authority Board and has served as the Campus Minister and Director of the Wesley Foundation at the University of Northern Iowa for 16 years.  After graduating with a  BS in Education from Bowling Green and a MDiv from G-ETS, he has served  UMC congregations in the Iowa Conference since 1985.  Meeting his wife Jaymee in seminary, together they are parents of daughters Allyn and Magee.  Despite growing up in a campus ministry family, both have been involved in the campus ministry/religious life of their respective college and universities.