Listening “soul to soul” – because your story matters

Lord, You have searched me and known me.
 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it. – Psalm 139:1-6

Street people vector flat illustrationWhen I take my evening walk I typically listen to a podcast or some of my favorite music. Selections include TED Radio Hour, Hidden Brain, NPR’s Politics Podcast, The Moth Radio Hour, and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Sometimes I’ll even take in a preacher.

Mornings on the other hand are always quiet and meditative; no electronics. I check in with God, reflect on the scripture of the day, or simply take deep breaths and try to get my bearings because I’m nowhere near fully awake.


Once in a while – and this was the case today – I think about something I heard, or learned the previous evening. I had been listening to a TED episode called “Reinvention,” and in particular a conversation with Damian Kulash Jr., lead singer for the pop-rock band “OK Go”. I’m not going back in for the exact wording, so this is more derivative than exact, but Kulash suggests his approach is less that of coming up with new ideas so much as rearranging things already available.

“You don’t have to be original,” he said (and I’m paraphrasing), “it’s connecting with people that is important.” What counts, in other words, is the communication.

He’s right. What is the point in being completely brilliant, off-the-charts creative, maybe even inventing something that has never been seen or done before, if the essential message does not make its way from one human soul to another?


At the end of the day, whether you have perused this blog, read one of my books (thanks, by the way, if you do!), watched me talk on YouTube, checked out my work in other media, or attended a conference or workshop where I have presented, what really counts is the answer to this question: “Have I connected with you?” and this challenge, “Has the essential message made its way from one human soul to another?”

There is a lot of “messaging” going on out there; some of it very inventive, loud, novel, revolutionary, important, passionate – or a mixture of these elements. But what we really need, especially in this pivotal, seminal moment, is more human souls making meaningful connections.

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We may disagree regarding some important ideas – most likely we do – but more than agree, we need to connect, soul to soul, hearing each other, understanding why, knowing – and caring about – one another’s story.

Everyone is rooted in story; there is no such thing as a “wrong” story. Often the noise we make, the anger we project, the issues we champion, and the stands we take are substitutes for being properly known. And if we listen to one another we find that, rather than make each other angry, what we need to do is to cry together.

If we are to make our way forward from this morass we must discover our authentic selves, and that is often only possible in community, and with people who have stories we need to hear just as much as we need to be heard.

That’s enough to think about for one post.

In love, and because love always wins – DEREK

Writer Derek Maul is learning that his story becomes clearer the more he understands yours…



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