Sunday, March 15, 2020

Listening Triads: Update

Listening Triads with speaker, listener, and observer. 

My objectives: (1) to improve our listening skills (2) for collaborative learning (3) in whatever community we find ourselves.

During the 25 years doing Befriender training Listening Triads with speaker, listener, and observer became an important exercise. Howard Clinebell, a pastoral theologian who conducted two three-day workshops in different years in the 70’s, introduced us to the exercise. I like it better than role-playing which I was never comfortable using. 

Triads were more realistic for me since the speaker tells a story that is fresh in their mind or they could pick a story from the category chosen for the session, like an illness story, elderly story, family crisis, dying patient story, grief story, etc. Our two-hour training sessions had a presentation and discussion in the first hour and a practice session in the second hour based on the presentation. Triads were our most used training exercise during the practice session. Verbatim and practice responses were also used. 

In Listening Triads listening was the main focus. Instead of number off the group members one by one around the group said, speaker, listener, observer, speaker, listener, observer, etc. until all were named. If extra at the end you add to a group where two speakers, or listeners, or observers. People rotate anyway so all get a chance at being each.

The speaker starts a story on the assigned topic and the listener can only interrupt to give a summary of the story told up to that point. The listener can not ask questions or tell a story of their own or give suggestions. They have to stay with the story being told and can only repeat a summary as they go along. The observers are double-listeners, listening to the story of the speaker and the summaries of the listener. After the speaker finishes the observer shares where the listener was on target with the summary and where they missed part of the story. 

It is helpful to do a demonstration model in the beginning with the presenter serving as listener to show both listening and stopping to give short summaries. of the story being told.

Persons in the Triad rotate so all have the experience of being speaker, listening, and observer. This takes time and there is no rush. We usually had four or five Listening Triads going at one time. After they started it was my task to answer any questions a Triad might have. When the groups were finished all were debriefed in the group as a whole, speakers were asked, “What was it like being speaker? What was it like being listener? What was it like being observer?” 

The speakers usually affirmed the value of having a listener that allowed them to tell their story in full. Listeners felt the constraint of just being a listener. Being a listener only was not an easy assignment. They wanted to ask questions or offer some help during the story or do what is called, “leap frog” what was being said. Observers had the challenge in listening to both and offering helpful observations to the listener as to where they were catching what was being said and where they came up short. 

I remember a time when I was doing the Triad exercise with a new class for the Home Maker Service. Mrs. Bell had me come down and participate in their orientation with a listening session. The Homemakers would be hearing the stories as well as doing the work they were assisted to do in a given home. Being a listener would be their role rather than giving advice. I started with a demonstration Triad for all to watch and listen. This time the speaker told her own grief story in great detail and in a moving way. The listener did a good job of listening and repeating back from time to time what she had heard. The observer commented on both. During the debriefing time the listener complained she could not make suggestions or give advise or feel helpful. The speaker affirmed that being able to tell the story without the advice or extra comments was the must helpful. The importance of being the listener was affirmed. 
The listener has an advantage in one respect. The speaker can only talk 125 words per minute on average while the listener has 400 to 600 words going in their head. The extra words help the listener sort out what is important in the story being told. The other side of the issue, the extra words can also serve as a distraction in staying with what is being told. 

The discipline of story listening requires holding in check our own stories, telling a better story, leap-frogging with helps and answers, etc. The real test comes as the feelings become stronger in a story being told to not let the feelings interfere with our listening and staying with the story. As story listeners we receive the story, the meaning and the feelings as well. The latter can make listening more difficult, especially when strong feelings accompanying the story connect with a similar story in the listener. 

As stated in the Mary and Martha story, Gospel of Luke chapter 10, she has the better part and what she has cannot be taken away from her. She receives a blessing. The experience of being a listener who makes a difference makes a lasting impression on both the listener as well as the one telling the story. A mutual benefit is experienced in story listening. I believe Jesus acknowledges the same in Luke 10:43. 

To be continued,

Marlin Whiter, ret. Hospital chaplain, BCC
This blog has had a lot of hits both here and at Trinity Cathederal, Davenport, Iowa, under sermons: listening reflections.

Mwhtimer80@gmail.com

Lecture #1 on Metaphor

Abstract:
My objectives: (1) to improve our listening skills (2) for collaborative learning (3) in whatever community we find ourselves.
The first presentation to improve our listening skills lays the ground work in how language functions by focusing on understanding metaphors and metonymy. I share discoveries made over the years including references encompassing a larger context. Like the air we breath we take for granted how language functions in the communication process.
These sessions concentrate on improving our listening skills. Later I will move to implications and future possibilities. At all times I attempt to keep our learning close to the practice in which each person resides. Your setting and our life together become a laboratory for learning. We live community on many levels: gathering to read and reflect in whatever grass roots community our listening takes place. May the Holy Spirit guide our journey.
1. Beginnings
My study of metaphor began in earnest after visiting Mr. Geibelstein in 1975. I had negotiated to tape record our visit. Being older he knew about the farms and families where I grew up in Cedar County, Iowa. He knew my father as a young man when he played the fiddle for barn dances. Because my father died 16 years earlier I was eager for stories of his life.
I heard the names of the family farms and then came the barn dances. I said the violin I have may not be the exact one, but the strings on the bow are worn out. He said, "Oh yes, we all wear out." He told of his friend visiting and saying, "You have to stay with the boat." I found this amusing since we read a portion of the Noah story in the chapel before the visit. I asked, "You have to stay with the boat? Cedar County doesn't have any large body of water. There isn't any ocean or sea out there." He said, "You have to stay with the boat in order to survive." Helped by his friend he moved the Noah story to himself. It is one thing to move "worn out" but now we have "stay with the Boat to survive?" I decided to drop my agenda and go with what was happening as he moved my words and others to explain his situation. He confided he didn't think he would survive the surgery. There's a real flood.
My presence before surgery had been a comfort as well as his friend's advice. Now he was alive when he didn't think he was going to be. What does he do? Our stage was set for a pastoral visit before I came back to the office. Instead of the stories of may father I had a demonstration of metaphors at work in story listening and pastoral/spiritual care for health care. The communication process became the greater gift. My father, an innovative person in his own way, provided an opportunity for learning how language functions. Renewed life was generated in both of us.
The recorded visit opened the door for understanding story and language in a more profound way. Even more amazing, I was about to reconnect with process philosophers as part of a college major 23 years before. (Whitehead, Langer, and Temple).
Fred Kuether, my first Clinical Pastoral Education supervisor at Bellevue Hospital, NYC, in the summer of 1953, was an earlier contributor to story listening. His focus on the story of the patient and our own story used the non directive approach of Carl Rogers. We jokingly said he could out do Carl Rogers. He modeled story listening by listening to our stories, reviewing our verbatims from a story approach, and sharing some of his own story. Twenty-five years later, 1978, at the College of Chaplains conference, Anaheim, California, Charles Cedarlief gave the Russell Dicks Memorial breakfast address. Half way through he said something that had my full attention. “Russell Dicks wasn’t all that good a listener. The person who will not have a memorial breakfast was the good listener. His name was Fred Kuether. He was into story listening long before it was in vogue.” I almost fell off my chair. Fred did not share his supervisory theory. He just did it. By 1978 I had added the focus on the metaphor to his influence on story listening.
During seminary I was introduced to the writings of the Jewish Philosopher, Martin Buber introduced the dialogical principle with his emphasis on I-Thou and I-It relationships. Reuel Howe, our pastoral care professor, influenced by his thought, wrote The Miracle of Dialogue, setting forth his understanding of Buber’s communication concepts. 
These are background influences. Coming from a farming area of Iowa, stories were what Reuel calls the life blood of our existence. “Dialogue is to love, what blood is to the body” (Howe, Miracle of Dialogue, p. 3).
The Story of the Befrienders
The Befrienders (lay hospital visitors) came about in this way. I started as a chaplain at St. Luke’s Hospital, Davenport, Iowa, in 1964. Completing my final Clinical Pastoral Education quarter at Bellevue Hospital for certification in the College of Chaplains I moved from a parish setting to the hospital. This meant giving up a personal objective: to train lay people in a parish setting as a ministering community. I had written a formal paper on the subject my final year in seminary. The concept of generating the ministry of the whole church did not materialize during my nine years in parish work. I was to discover a round about way for making a small beginning.
My best effort was with the youth of the church during Lent when adults took small groups into their homes. There adult discussion leaders served as facilitators. The training of the leaders included a short course in listening. When I went to the hospital full time in 1965 I said, “there goes that objective, I am giving it up.”
One of the leaders of the youth sessions was Mavoreen Briggs. She came to my office one day in 1966 saying, “We have this rule in the Hospital Auxiliary, ‘When taking the notions cart around you are not to visit with patients.’ I think patients want to visit. How can we change the rule?” I had been reading a book called The Samaritansby Chad Varah. This was a suicide prevention program in England with professionals and non professionals working together. Lay people were basically story listeners. A review in the Anglican Digest called the book, The Talking Cure.
Starting with three preselected candidates, Mavoreen, Nan Powers, and Jane Butterworth, the program grew over the years to become a community wide effort. Through the art of story metaphor listening Befrienders also became fellow practitioners in the healing power of stories. The hospital acknowledged their appreciation celebrating our 40th Anniversary in October of 2006. It was a great evening for reminiscing and retracing our time together.
2. Basic: The importance of Listening
A review of Listening Ministry: Rethinking Pastoral Leadershipby Susan Hedahl caught my interest sufficiently to purchase her book. She covers the water front of listening by moving through a variety of parish ministry categories. I purchased two major books referenced: Andrew Wolvin and Carolyn Gwynn Coakley’s book on Listeningand Gemma Corradi Fiumara’s, The Other Side of Language: A Philosophy of Listening. That is when the fun began.
Wolvin and Gwynn Coakley provide an outline for listening under the five types of listening: (1) discriminative, (2) comprehensive, (3) therapeutic, (4) critical, and (5) appreciative (Hedalh, pages 12-13). They use the tree image to represent the various categories which they call the taxonomy of listening. In “discrimination” we check out the non verbal (auditory and visual stimuli) which some say comprise 70% of what we communicate. Then you have the trunk as comprehension and the three main branches are therapeutic, critical, appreciative listening (Wolvin and Coakley, pages 152-4 ). Metaphor seems to be relegated more to the therapeutic branch. They use symbol as the name for our words which are encoded by speaker and decoded by listener. They quote and give reference to Metaphor in Everyday Life by Lakoff and Johnson whose
early chapters are a major source for me. Somehow we have completely different interpretations. I see the metaphorical as a function of language permeating all of our language and listening. Tree becomes a root metaphor and the five categories orientation metaphors. Each category orients us to a different mode on a continuum of listening. At the same time the five types help us to make some clear distinctions.
The early sections of Listening Ministry relies heavily on their book, Listening. Hadalh, Wolvin, and Gwynn Coakley are obvious friends as well as a professionals in terms of listening training. If I needed a book to support my “listening is basic” thesis and “the first language skill we develop” followed by speaking, reading and writing” I would rely on Wolvin and Gwynn Coakley (Wolvin and Coakley, p. 13). “Reading and writing are essential communication tools, but it is through listening and speaking that we interact most frequently at work. The average worker spends 8.4 percent of his or her communication time at work writing, 13.3 percent reading, 23.0 percent speaking, and 55.0 percent listening ( Wolvin/Coakley, p. 15). Described in a more visual way, “The late Walter Loban creatively described Rankin’s and others’ findings in this manner: We listen a book a day, we speak a book a week, we read a book a month, and we write a book a year” ( Wolvin/Coakley, p. 15).
Some where in the past I read we can speak 125 words a minute while our listening involves 400-600 words a minute. Our brain is bouncing around interacting with one data base after another as we hear the 125 words a minute.
Turning to some specifics about language I will start with metaphor.
Metaphor:From the Greek language "meta" means new, over, across and beyond; and "phorein" means to carry, to bring, or to bear. What we do with a meta-phor is move a word from a familiar place to the unfamiliar as a way of explaining the new and unfamiliar. Drop what you learned in English classes about metaphor and simile. Metaphor is the term for the whole process and is different from symbol. I am using the definition from a guide book for English teachers (Bartel, page 61-74). Metaphors are fluid. They change. As they change they tell about the change in the person.Symbols tend to stay the same and grow in meaning. Analogy works like a metaphor as well as trope.
I will be following Bartel’s difference between metaphor and symbols. At the same time I have to acknowledge you will find creditable folks using symbol in the way I and others use metaphor. Let me quote from the book on Listening.
“Indispensable to the comprehension of the verbal message, of course, is the sharing of common language symbols.” ... “Because we use our verbal language to represent symbolically what we intend to communicate, communicators are well advised to remember that it is a process of symbolism -- a process representing our concepts and object with words.” (Wolvin and Coakley, page 55).
I mentioned a second book purchased. Dr. Fiumara has another point of view. She says with language in flux it is not possible to come up with an adequate definition of metaphor (Fiumara,Other Side of Language, pages 169-175). “In consideration of the numerous attempts to define metaphor, Martin-Soskice has suggested that anyone who has grappled with the problem of metaphoric expressions ‘will appreciate the pragmatism of those who proceed to discuss it without giving any definition at all’" (Soskice, page 31; Fiumara, OSL, page 9).
I tend to be very pragmatic when it comes to working with metaphors. Our venture here is to increases our awareness of metaphors in everyday life not only from a pastoral perspective but as a part of how we live with language.
Health care provides a natural environment for hearing and identifying metaphors since patients and families and even staff are confronted daily with the unfamiliar. Familiar words are then moved to the new setting. This doesn't detract from the everyday setting out in the community as well. Over the years a frequent remark after a presentation on the topic, "I've been using and hearing metaphors all my life, but I didn't know it." As Fiumara says speaking of our rational centered culture where talk dominates, “they use rather than explain metaphor” (Fiumara, MP, page 84). With chronic illness and the coronavirus the metapahors in the community and hospital will be more alike than different.
The study of metaphors is very old. Aristotle talked about metaphors (Fiumara, MP, Page 1-2,). During the last three hundred years they were down graded by philosophers as having little place in rational thought (Fiumara, MP, page 4-5). Even though Aristotle said “find the metaphor” people who were slaves were to be direct and literal. What did he know about metaphors? When I told this to a friend he said, “Aristotle was “politically correct” for his time. He did not want to upset the apple cart.” Perhaps he didn’t want to drink the hemlock as Socrates. Metaphors can house poetic power for change.
Susan Langer, who wrote Philosophy in a New Key, helped bring metaphor back giving symbol and metaphor a major place in our communication (Langer, 1947). I read her book in college not realizing how important it would become later. The main philosopher I studied as part of my major was Alfred North Whitehead and Susan Langer was his student at Harvard. His teaching has gone by the name of process philosophy. I have been heavily influenced by the importance of process in our learning and journey.
The University of Chicago sponsored a symposium in 1978 called "Metaphor: The Conceptual Leap." The talks appear in a book On Metaphor(Sacks, ed., 1979). Metaphors permeate every discipline of knowledge. A couple of other authors, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980), wrote a book making metaphor an everyday occurrence, Metaphors We Live By. I will be staying with several of their basic approaches.
Metaphors are the way language functions in the communication process. They explain the unexplainable by moving what is familiar to the unfamiliar. In the context of listening, metaphor and metonymy take on a primary function for expressing both meaning and feeling. They can also divert meaning and mean something different in another context.
A resource I am reading now is Paul Riceour who was a professor of philosophy and theology at a the University of Chicago. He has written foundational material about the metaphor and how language functions (internet resource).
Root Metaphors and Orientation Metaphors: 
Root metaphors are nouns and direct objects. Johnson and Lakoff use “time is money” as root metaphors in our culture. We talk about budgeting our time, saving time, and spending our time (Johnson and Lakoff, page 7-8).
Orientation metaphorsare verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and above all, prepositions (Lakoff and Johnson, pages 9-24). We can easily miss how much prepositions tell us as they move from "down in the basement," "the stock market is down," and "down in the dumps." Without getting overly complicated, as some explanations can, I stick to these two basic kinds of metaphors for gaining a better understanding for listening to stories.
Two root metaphors Aristotle talks about are mechanical and organic. A book on aesthetics traces the history of these two metaphors from Aristotle's time to our own (Rousseau, 1972). The industrial revolution brought a shift from organic metaphors to mechanical. Cardiologists speak of the heart as a pump  (mechanical) and poets speak of the heart of the matter (organic) as the center for meaning.
I had a personal encounter with this distinction when the cardiac care nurses went to a conference on "heart sounds." I said that I'd like to attend but they said, "it would be too technical." I replied, "I'll have a better appreciation for what you do." Permission was granted. Afterward I gave a workshop for the nurses called "heart sounds." I observed they listen to the "heart sounds" of the pump through a mechanical device called the stethoscope while I listen to "heart sounds" through words called metaphors. I hear people from the standpoint of poetry using the poets ear for feeling and meaning. When people are under stress their language becomes more poetic and condensed with powerful images.
What is Metonymy?
Metonymy,literally, new name for the same. Officially from the dictionary, "The use of the name of one object or concept for that of another to which it is related, or of which it is a part, ... as 'the bottle' for 'strong drink'" (Webster's, p. 903).
If metaphor defies definition as previously quoted then metonymy reaps the same reward as a special kind of name for a cluster of related metaphors.
Befrienders and I at Trinity Cathedral heard metonymy in the parish for befriending. Only a few are in the formal group of Befrienders, but many are befriending under other names as friend, neighbor, stop by, ventilate, visit, conversation, fellow worker, care for the stranger, etc. Listening to a significant story takes place under many names. A man in the rehab group said that in retirement he hears more conversations about illness and going to the doctor. I asked, "Do you realize that hearing those stories is a form of health care?" He had never thought of that. We still have a long way to go in changing our mind set and having an intellectual conversion for health care befriending. We can resist metaphors and metonymy alike as far as what is actually happening.
Through metaphor and metonymy I say I help people know what they already know but don’t know they know. In a visit, conversation, talk, or story they serve as part of acceptable language and expression. That same acceptable language and expression can be considered ministry, pastoral/spiritual care, health care, and healing.
To Journey with Illustrating Stories
Here are several stories to illustrate how frequently metaphors are a necessary part of communicating. Children can be excused for not knowing, but adults have the ability to know, whether they want to or not is another question. Our grandson watched his father, my brother and I as we cut up the pumpkin for the Thanksgiving pie. He said, “pumpkin broke.” He knew about “toy broke” now he moves broke to the unfamiliar. And a small child after a divorce and leaving her familiar home comes back six months later to see her bedroom said, “room broke.” A four-year old looking out the window at his grandparent's farm house saw his grandfather out in the field going back and forth on his tractor pulling a manure spreader. The child in excitement said to grandmother, “Grandma, Grandpa's got a ‘poopy flier.’” There is a double metaphor. Two familiar words moved to the unknown as well as a new name, a metonymy, for the manure spreader. That story ought to be worth ten on the health meter.
The real challenge is to identify metaphors people use. Some catch on faster than others. I suggest the sports page and editorials as places to look for metaphors. Women reading the sports page often say, "My husband won't know how to handle that." " My response, “tell him you're studying metaphors." As an exercise to start the discipline I suggest The following:
      Put a square around root metaphors and a circle around orientation metaphors. Do that on a regular basis as a way of identifying metaphors.
      Watch for metaphors in novels and short stories as well.
      Read personal stories about living with an illness -- called pathography.
      Learn to identify metaphors in conversations.
You do not have to tell people they are using metaphor. They are the silent language of conversation that speak tons and makes a big impact. They are similar to the blood pressure of your body --- silent but revealing. You can ask people to tell you more about the metaphors they use. We could ask Hayden Frye to tell us more about the question mark. You can practice giving situations a metaphor to become more aware. Journal writing can be personally revealing as you write metaphors of which you are at first unaware.
To help a person identify a metaphor I ask, "What words describe what you are experiencing in your illness?" “How would you picture what is happening?” I do that occasionally, especially if the person has not used a metaphor that helps identify or crystallize what is taking place already.
I was asked to send some papers written by a friend who had the Shy Drager Syndrome. The research department of the Vanderbuilt Medical School in Nashville was investigating what people with the diagnosis had to say. I asked the researcher, Jane Estrata, to ask people around the country how they described or pictured their illness. To my surprise she called me back in six months with the most frequent reply from people who had never met: "Stumbling in the dark." It is an amazing metaphor. The blood pressure drops when people with the illness stand up. They stagger when walking, other people may say, "They are drunk." Medical super specialists are also "stumbling in the dark" not knowing much about the cause of this autonomic nervous system disease. They have difficulty with diagnosis and then they can only treat symptoms. Metaphors apparently provide a universal language for moving the familiar to the unfamiliar as a way of making a semblance of sense out of the unfamiliar.
References:
Bartel, Roland. (1983). Metaphors and symbols: Forays into language. Urbana, Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English, 83 pages.
Buber, Martin, internet resource, http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-buber.htm
Clark, Marta. (1996, May-June). Metaphorically speaking, Healthcare Forum Journal, p. 20.
Fiumara, Gemma Corradi. (1990). The other side of language: A philosophy of listening. Routledge; London and New York, 231 pages.
Fiumara, Gemma Corradi. (1995). The metaphorical process: Connections betweenlanguage and life. London and New York,196 pages.
Howe, Reuel L. (1963). The miracle of dialogue. The Seabury Press.
Koenig, Dr. Harold; Larson, Dr. David; McCullough, Maichael. (2001). Handbook forreligion and health. Oxford University Press.
Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 242 pages.
Langer, Susan. (1947). Philosophy in a new key: A study in the symbolism of reason, rite, and art. New York: Pelican Books, 248 pages.
Rousseau, G. S. (Ed.).Organic form: The life of an idea. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. 108 pages.
Sacks, Sheldon (Ed.). On metaphor. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 196 pages. (Chapters on the place of metaphor in different disciplines of knowledge including an article by Paul Riceour.)
Vaisrub, Samuel. (1977). Medicine's metaphors: Messages and menaces. Oradell, NJ: Medical Economics Co.,124 pages.
van Noppen, Jean-Peirre, et. al. (comps). (1985). Metaphor: A bibliography ofpost-1970 publications. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamin's Publishing Company, 350 pages.
van Noppen, Jean-Peirre and Edith Hols. (1990). Metaphor 2: A classified bibliography of publications 1985 to 1990. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins PublishingCompany, 497 pages.
Webster's encyclopedic unabridged dictionary of the English language. (1989). Gramercy Books.
Wheatley, Margaret J. (1994). Leadership and the new science: Learning about organization from an orderly universe. San Francisco: Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 164 pages
Wolvin, Andrew, and Coakley, Carolyn Gwynn. (1996). Listening, 5th ed.; McGraw-Hill; Boston, 440 pages.

Online books available over the internet:
Alfred North Whitehead by Norman Pittenger. (ENTIRE BOOK) The shortest and simplest introduction to Whitehead -- his life, his "process thought," and Christian Process Theology. http://www.religiononline.org/showbook.asp?title=2212
Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogueby Maurice S. Friedman. (ENTIRE BOOK) A comprehensive, richly documented research into Martin Buber’s philosophical and theological teachings and his influence upon philophers and theologians of his times.http://www.religion-online.org/showbook.asp?title=459
Paul Riceour; resources on the internet. Essays on Biblical Interpretation by Paul Riceour http://www.religion-online.org/showbook.asp?title=1941
Copyright © 2009, Marlin Whitmer. All rights reserved.












































 Abstract:

My objectives: (1) to improve our listening skills (2) for collaborative learning (3) in whatever community we find ourselves.
The first presentation to improve our listening skills lays the ground work in how language functions by focusing on understanding metaphors and metonymy. I share discoveries made over the years including references encompassing a larger context. Like the air we breath we take for granted how language functions in the communication process.
After five sessions concentrate on improving our listening skills I will move to implications and future possibilities. At all times I attempt to keep our learning close to the practice in which each person resides. Your setting and our life together become a laboratory for learning. We live community on many levels: gathering to read and reflect in whatever grass roots community our listening takes place. May the Holy Spirit guide our journies.
1. Beginnings
My study of metaphor began in earnest after visiting Mr. Geibelstein in 1975. I had negotiated to tape record our visit. Being older he knew about the farms and families where I grew up in Cedar County, Iowa. He knew my father as a young man when he played the fiddle for barn dances. Because my father died 16 years earlier I was eager for stories of his life.
I heard the names of the family farms and then came the barn dances. I said the violin I have may not be the exact one, but the strings on the bow are worn out. He said, "Oh yes, we all wear out." He told of his friend visiting and saying, "You have to stay with the boat." I found this amusing since we read a portion of the Noah story in the chapel before the visit. I asked, "You have to stay with the boat? Cedar County doesn't have any large body of water. There isn't any ocean or sea out there." He said, "You have to stay with the boat in order to survive." Helped by his friend he moved the Noah story to himself. It is one thing to move "worn out" but now we have "stay with the Boat to survive?" I decided to drop my agenda and go with what was happening as he moved my words and others to explain his situation. He confided he didn't think he would survive the surgery. There's a real flood.
My presence before surgery had been a comfort as well as his friend's advice. Now he was alive when he didn't think he was going to be. What does he do? Our stage was set for a pastoral visit before I came back to the office. Instead of the stories of may father I had a demonstration of metaphors at work in story listening and pastoral/spiritual care for health care. The communication process became the greater gift. My father, an innovative person in his own way, provided an opportunity for learning how language functions. Renewed life was generated in both of us.
The recorded visit opened the door for understanding story and language in a more profound way. Even more amazing, I was about to reconnect with process philosophers as part of a college major 23 years before. (Whitehead, Langer, and Temple).
Fred Kuether, my first Clinical Pastoral Education supervisor at Bellevue Hospital, NYC, in the summer of 1953, was an earlier contributor to story listening. His focus on the story of the patient and our own story used the non directive approach of Carl Rogers. We jokingly said he could out do Carl Rogers. He modeled story listening by listening to our stories, reviewing our verbatims from a story approach, and sharing some of his own story. Twenty-five years later, 1978, at the College of Chaplains conference, Anaheim, California, Charles Cedarlief gave the Russell Dicks Memorial breakfast address. Half way through he said something that had my full attention. “Russell Dicks wasn’t all that good a listener. The person who will not have a memorial breakfast was the good listener. His name was Fred Kuether. He was into story listening long before it was in vogue.” I almost fell off my chair. Fred did not share his supervisory theory. He just did it. By 1978 I had added the focus on the metaphor to his influence on story listening.
During seminary I was introduced to the writings of the Jewish Philosopher, Martin Buber introduced the dialogical principle with his emphasis on I-Thou and I-It relationships. Reuel Howe, our pastoral care professor, influenced by his thought, wrote The Miracle of Dialogue, setting forth his understanding of Buber’s communication concepts. 
These are background influences. Coming from a farming area of Iowa, stories were what Reuel calls the life blood of our existence. “Dialogue is to love, what blood is to the body” (Howe, Miracle of Dialogue, p. 3).
The Story of the Befrienders
The Befrienders (lay hospital visitors) came about in this way. I started as a chaplain at St. Luke’s Hospital, Davenport, Iowa, in 1964. Completing my final Clinical Pastoral Education quarter at Bellevue Hospital for certification in the College of Chaplains I moved from a parish setting to the hospital. This meant giving up a personal objective: to train lay people in a parish setting as a ministering community. I had written a formal paper on the subject my final year in seminary. The concept of generating the ministry of the whole church did not materialize during my nine years in parish work. I was to discover a round about way for making a small beginning.
My best effort was with the youth of the church during Lent when adults took small groups into their homes. There adult discussion leaders served as facilitators. The training of the leaders included a short course in listening. When I went to the hospital full time in 1965 I said, “there goes that objective, I am giving it up.”
One of the leaders of the youth sessions was Mavoreen Briggs. She came to my office one day in 1966 saying, “We have this rule in the Hospital Auxiliary, ‘When taking the notions cart around you are not to visit with patients.’ I think patients want to visit. How can we change the rule?” I had been reading a book called The Samaritansby Chad Varah. This was a suicide prevention program in England with professionals and non professionals working together. Lay people were basically story listeners. A review in the Anglican Digest called the book, The Talking Cure.
Starting with three preselected candidates, Mavoreen, Nan Powers, and Jane Butterworth, the program grew over the years to become a community wide effort. Through the art of story metaphor listening Befrienders also became fellow practitioners in the healing power of stories. The hospital acknowledged their appreciation celebrating our 40th Anniversary in October of 2006. It was a great evening for reminiscing and retracing our time together.
2. Basic: The importance of Listening
A review of Listening Ministry: Rethinking Pastoral Leadershipby Susan Hedahl caught my interest sufficiently to purchase her book. She covers the water front of listening by moving through a variety of parish ministry categories. I purchased two major books referenced: Andrew Wolvin and Carolyn Gwynn Coakley’s book on Listeningand Gemma Corradi Fiumara’s, The Other Side of Language: A Philosophy of Listening. That is when the fun began.
Wolvin and Gwynn Coakley provide an outline for listening under the five types of listening: (1) discriminative, (2) comprehensive, (3) therapeutic, (4) critical, and (5) appreciative (Hedalh, pages 12-13). They use the tree image to represent the various categories which they call the taxonomy of listening. In “discrimination” we check out the non verbal (auditory and visual stimuli) which some say comprise 70% of what we communicate. Then you have the trunk as comprehension and the three main branches are therapeutic, critical, appreciative listening (Wolvin and Coakley, pages 152-4 ). Metaphor seems to be relegated more to the therapeutic branch. They use symbol as the name for our words which are encoded by speaker and decoded by listener. They quote and give reference to Metaphor in Everyday Life by Lakoff and Johnson whose
early chapters are a major source for me. Somehow we have completely different interpretations. I see the metaphorical as a function of language permeating all of our language and listening. Tree becomes a root metaphor and the five categories orientation metaphors. Each category orients us to a different mode on a continuum of listening. At the same time the five types help us to make some clear distinctions.
The early sections of Listening Ministry relies heavily on their book, Listening. Hadalh, Wolvin, and Gwynn Coakley are obvious friends as well as a professionals in terms of listening training. If I needed a book to support my “listening is basic” thesis and “the first language skill we develop” followed by speaking, reading and writing” I would rely on Wolvin and Gwynn Coakley (Wolvin and Coakley, p. 13). “Reading and writing are essential communication tools, but it is through listening and speaking that we interact most frequently at work. The average worker spends 8.4 percent of his or her communication time at work writing, 13.3 percent reading, 23.0 percent speaking, and 55.0 percent listening ( Wolvin/Coakley, p. 15). Described in a more visual way, “The late Walter Loban creatively described Rankin’s and others’ findings in this manner: We listen a book a day, we speak a book a week, we read a book a month, and we write a book a year” ( Wolvin/Coakley, p. 15).
Some where in the past I read we can speak 125 words a minute while our listening involves 400-600 words a minute. Our brain is bouncing around interacting with one data base after another as we hear the 125 words a minute.
Turning to some specifics about language I will start with metaphor.
Metaphor:From the Greek language "meta" means new, over, across and beyond; and "phorein" means to carry, to bring, or to bear. What we do with a meta-phor is move a word from a familiar place to the unfamiliar as a way of explaining the new and unfamiliar. Drop what you learned in English classes about metaphor and simile. Metaphor is the term for the whole process and is different from symbol. I am using the definition from a guide book for English teachers (Bartel, page 61-74). Metaphors are fluid. They change. As they change they tell about the change in the person.Symbols tend to stay the same and grow in meaning. Analogy works like a metaphor as well as trope.
I will be following Bartel’s difference between metaphor and symbols. At the same time I have to acknowledge you will find creditable folks using symbol in the way I and others use metaphor. Let me quote from the book on Listening.
“Indispensable to the comprehension of the verbal message, of course, is the sharing of common language symbols.” ... “Because we use our verbal language to represent symbolically what we intend to communicate, communicators are well advised to remember that it is a process of symbolism -- a process representing our concepts and object with words.” (Wolvin and Coakley, page 55).
I mentioned a second book purchased. Dr. Fiumara has another point of view. She says with language in flux it is not possible to come up with an adequate definition of metaphor (Fiumara,Other Side of Language, pages 169-175). “In consideration of the numerous attempts to define metaphor, Martin-Soskice has suggested that anyone who has grappled with the problem of metaphoric expressions ‘will appreciate the pragmatism of those who proceed to discuss it without giving any definition at all’" (Soskice, page 31; Fiumara, OSL, page 9).
I tend to be very pragmatic when it comes to working with metaphors. Our venture here is to increases our awareness of metaphors in everyday life not only from a pastoral perspective but as a part of how we live with language.
Health care provides a natural environment for hearing and identifying metaphors since patients and families and even staff are confronted daily with the unfamiliar. Familiar words are then moved to the new setting. This doesn't detract from the everyday setting out in the community as well. Over the years a frequent remark after a presentation on the topic, "I've been using and hearing metaphors all my life, but I didn't know it." As Fiumara says speaking of our rational centered culture where talk dominates, “they use rather than explain metaphor” (Fiumara, MP, page 84). With chronic illness and the coronavirus the metapahors in the community and hospital will be more alike than different.
The study of metaphors is very old. Aristotle talked about metaphors (Fiumara, MP, Page 1-2,). During the last three hundred years they were down graded by philosophers as having little place in rational thought (Fiumara, MP, page 4-5). Even though Aristotle said “find the metaphor” people who were slaves were to be direct and literal. What did he know about metaphors? When I told this to a friend he said, “Aristotle was “politically correct” for his time. He did not want to upset the apple cart.” Perhaps he didn’t want to drink the hemlock as Socrates. Metaphors can house poetic power for change.
Susan Langer, who wrote Philosophy in a New Key, helped bring metaphor back giving symbol and metaphor a major place in our communication (Langer, 1947). I read her book in college not realizing how important it would become later. The main philosopher I studied as part of my major was Alfred North Whitehead and Susan Langer was his student at Harvard. His teaching has gone by the name of process philosophy. I have been heavily influenced by the importance of process in our learning and journey.
The University of Chicago sponsored a symposium in 1978 called "Metaphor: The Conceptual Leap." The talks appear in a book On Metaphor(Sacks, ed., 1979). Metaphors permeate every discipline of knowledge. A couple of other authors, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (1980), wrote a book making metaphor an everyday occurrence, Metaphors We Live By. I will be staying with several of their basic approaches.
Metaphors are the way language functions in the communication process. They explain the unexplainable by moving what is familiar to the unfamiliar. In the context of listening, metaphor and metonymy take on a primary function for expressing both meaning and feeling. They can also divert meaning and mean something different in another context.
A resource I am reading now is Paul Riceour who was a professor of philosophy and theology at a the University of Chicago. He has written foundational material about the metaphor and how language functions (internet resource).
Root Metaphors and Orientation Metaphors: 
Root metaphors are nouns and direct objects. Johnson and Lakoff use “time is money” as root metaphors in our culture. We talk about budgeting our time, saving time, and spending our time (Johnson and Lakoff, page 7-8).
Orientation metaphorsare verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and above all, prepositions (Lakoff and Johnson, pages 9-24). We can easily miss how much prepositions tell us as they move from "down in the basement," "the stock market is down," and "down in the dumps." Without getting overly complicated, as some explanations can, I stick to these two basic kinds of metaphors for gaining a better understanding for listening to stories.
Two root metaphors Aristotle talks about are mechanical and organic. A book on aesthetics traces the history of these two metaphors from Aristotle's time to our own (Rousseau, 1972). The industrial revolution brought a shift from organic metaphors to mechanical. Cardiologists speak of the heart as a pump           (mechanical) and poets speak of the heart of the matter (organic) as the center for meaning.
I had a personal encounter with this distinction when the cardiac care nurses went to a conference on "heart sounds." I said that I'd like to attend but they said, "it would be too technical." I replied, "I'll have a better appreciation for what you do." Permission was granted. Afterward I gave a workshop for the nurses called "heart sounds." I observed they listen to the "heart sounds" of the pump through a mechanical device called the stethoscope while I listen to "heart sounds" through words called metaphors. I hear people from the standpoint of poetry using the poets ear for feeling and meaning. When people are under stress their language becomes more poetic and condensed with powerful images.
What is Metonymy?
Metonymy,literally, new name for the same. Officially from the dictionary, "The use of the name of one object or concept for that of another to which it is related, or of which it is a part, ... as 'the bottle' for 'strong drink'" (Webster's, p. 903).
If metaphor defies definition as previously quoted then metonymy reaps the same reward as a special kind of name for a cluster of related metaphors.
Befrienders and I at Trinity Cathedral heard metonymy in the parish for befriending. Only a few are in the formal group of Befrienders, but many are befriending under other names as friend, neighbor, stop by, ventilate, visit, conversation, fellow worker, care for the stranger, etc. Listening to a significant story takes place under many names. A man in the rehab group said that in retirement he hears more conversations about illness and going to the doctor. I asked, "Do you realize that hearing those stories is a form of health care?" He had never thought of that. We still have a long way to go in changing our mind set and having an intellectual conversion for health care befriending. We can resist metaphors and metonymy alike as far as what is actually happening.
Through metaphor and metonymy I say I help people know what they already know but don’t know they know. In a visit, conversation, talk, or story they serve as part of acceptable language and expression. That same acceptable language and expression can be considered ministry, pastoral/spiritual care, health care, and healing.
To Journey with Illustrating Stories
Here are several stories to illustrate how frequently metaphors are a necessary part of communicating. Children can be excused for not knowing, but adults have the ability to know, whether they want to or not is another question. Our grandson watched his father, my brother and I as we cut up the pumpkin for the Thanksgiving pie. He said, “pumpkin broke.” He knew about “toy broke” now he moves broke to the unfamiliar. And a small child after a divorce and leaving her familiar home comes back six months later to see her bedroom said, “room broke.” A four-year old looking out the window at his grandparent's farm house saw his grandfather out in the field going back and forth on his tractor pulling a manure spreader. The child in excitement said to grandmother, “Grandma, Grandpa's got a ‘poopy flier.’” There is a double metaphor. Two familiar words moved to the unknown as well as a new name, a metonymy, for the manure spreader. That story ought to be worth ten on the health meter.
The real challenge is to identify metaphors people use. Some catch on faster than others. I suggest the sports page and editorials as places to look for metaphors. Women reading the sports page often say, "My husband won't know how to handle that." " My response, “tell him you're studying metaphors." As an exercise to start the discipline I suggest The following:
      Put a square around root metaphors and a circle around orientation metaphors. Do that on a regular basis as a way of identifying metaphors.
      Watch for metaphors in novels and short stories as well.
      Read personal stories about living with an illness -- called pathography.
      Learn to identify metaphors in conversations.
You do not have to tell people they are using metaphor. They are the silent language of conversation that speak tons and make a big impact. They are similar to the blood pressure of your body --- silent but revealing. You can ask people to tell you more about the metaphors they use. We could ask Hayden Frye to tell us more about the question mark. You can practice giving situations a metaphor to become more aware. Journal writing can be personally revealing as you write metaphors of which you are at first unaware.
To help a person identify a metaphor I ask, "What words describe what you are experiencing in your illness?" “How would you picture what is happening?” I do that occasionally, especially if the person has not used a metaphor that helps identify or crystallize what is taking place already.
I was asked to send some papers written by a friend who had the Shy Drager Syndrome. The research department of the Vanderbuilt Medical School in Nashville was investigating what people with the diagnosis had to say. I asked the researcher, Jane Estrata, to ask people around the country how they described or pictured their illness. To my surprise she called me back in six months with the most frequent reply from people who had never met: "Stumbling in the dark." It is an amazing metaphor. The blood pressure drops when people with the illness stand up. They stagger when walking, other people may say, "They are drunk." Medical super specialists are also "stumbling in the dark" not knowing much about the cause of this autonomic nervous system disease. They have difficulty with diagnosis and then they can only treat symptoms. Metaphors apparently provide a universal language for moving the familiar to the unfamiliar as a way of making a semblance of sense out of the unfamiliar.
References:
Bartel, Roland. (1983). Metaphors and symbols: Forays into language. Urbana, Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English, 83 pages.
Buber, Martin, internet resource, http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-buber.htm
Clark, Marta. (1996, May-June). Metaphorically speaking, Healthcare Forum Journal, p. 20.
Fiumara, Gemma Corradi. (1990). The other side of language: A philosophy of listening. Routledge; London and New York, 231 pages.
Fiumara, Gemma Corradi. (1995). The metaphorical process: Connections betweenlanguage and life. London and New York,196 pages.
Howe, Reuel L. (1963). The miracle of dialogue. The Seabury Press.
Koenig, Dr. Harold; Larson, Dr. David; McCullough, Maichael. (2001). Handbook forreligion and health. Oxford University Press.
Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark. (1980). Metaphors we live by. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 242 pages.
Langer, Susan. (1947). Philosophy in a new key: A study in the symbolism of reason, rite, and art. New York: Pelican Books, 248 pages.
Rousseau, G. S. (Ed.).Organic form: The life of an idea. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. 108 pages.
Sacks, Sheldon (Ed.). On metaphor. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 196 pages. (Chapters on the place of metaphor in different disciplines of knowledge including an article by Paul Riceour.)
Vaisrub, Samuel. (1977). Medicine's metaphors: Messages and menaces. Oradell, NJ: Medical Economics Co.,124 pages.
van Noppen, Jean-Peirre, et. al. (comps). (1985). Metaphor: A bibliography ofpost-1970 publications. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamin's Publishing Company, 350 pages.
van Noppen, Jean-Peirre and Edith Hols. (1990). Metaphor 2: A classified bibliography of publications 1985 to 1990. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins PublishingCompany, 497 pages.
Webster's encyclopedic unabridged dictionary of the English language. (1989). Gramercy Books.
Wheatley, Margaret J. (1994). Leadership and the new science: Learning about organization from an orderly universe. San Francisco: Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 164 pages
Wolvin, Andrew, and Coakley, Carolyn Gwynn. (1996). Listening, 5th ed.; McGraw-Hill; Boston, 440 pages.

Online books available over the internet:
Alfred North Whitehead by Norman Pittenger. (ENTIRE BOOK) The shortest and simplest introduction to Whitehead -- his life, his "process thought," and Christian Process Theology. http://www.religiononline.org/showbook.asp?title=2212
Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogueby Maurice S. Friedman. (ENTIRE BOOK) A comprehensive, richly documented research into Martin Buber’s philosophical and theological teachings and his influence upon philophers and theologians of his times.http://www.religion-online.org/showbook.asp?title=459
Paul Riceour; resources on the internet. Essays on Biblical Interpretation by Paul Riceour http://www.religion-online.org/showbook.asp?title=1941
Copyright © 2009, Marlin Whitmer. All rights reserved.