StoryCorps encourages people to stop talking, start listening

TUPELO – As your shopping adventures carry you through a sea of humanity today, try to think of each face as representing a compelling, personal story.
That’s the idea behind the National Day of Listening, a project that encourages people to slow down and spend an hour interviewing someone they love.
The National Day of Listening was started last year by StoryCorps, a nonprofit whose mission is to celebrate people’s lives through the art of listening.
“It was also meant to be an alternative to Black Friday,” said Sacha Evans, a media representative with StoryCorps.
“The gift of an interview can be very meaningful, and since families are usually together during the holidays, this is a perfect time.”

Healing power
Throughout Northeast Mississippi, people of faith find listening essential to leading a full life.
At 81 years of age, former school teacher Marguarite Henry immerses herself daily in a world of stories, and the shelves of her New Albany home are loaded with classical literature.
“All of us are stories, and we just don’t stop and think of it,” said Henry, a member of New Albany First United Methodist Church.
She knows many people her age who hardly ever get visitors. They don’t have anyone to talk to, or to listen to them.
Henry believes that the power of narrative, and the listening skills to appreciate it, are essential to becoming an educated person.
According to the Rev. Bob Dalton, pastor-in-residence at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Houston, the personal connection that comes through listening can be great therapy.
For years Dalton has listened to recovering alcoholics as they work the fifth step in the Alcoholic Anonymous program.
“It’s just the most healing thing, when you tell another human being the exact nature of your wrongs,” he said. “In the fifth step, I don’t give any advice, or try to solve any problems. I just listen.”
Listening is also part of the healing process at the Parkgate Pregnancy Clinic in Tupelo. The nonprofit offers counseling to women facing unplanned pregnancies, encouraging them to carry their babies to term.
“We don’t try to convince anyone or tell them what they should do,” said its executive director, Jessica Roy.
“When a client is comfortable sharing, sometimes listening to herself talk about the situation will move her toward a lot of truth.”

Contact Galen Holley at (662) 678-1510 or galen.holley@djournal.com.

Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal