Socrates is credited with saying, "The unexamined life is not worth living." In accompaniment, I listen, and hold out what I hear so that the assistant can examine it and decide if changes are required. I also offer encouragement and try to ensure that the assistant knows how to access what he or she needs to be good at caring for himself or herself and to live with people with disabilities in mutual relationship.
Henri Nouwen speaks beautifully about the spiritual hospitality offered when we listen:
To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.
Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.
--Henri Nouwen Bread for the Journey, March 11