Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Q&A | Brother Curtis Almquist

Monk to share listening lessons with lawyers and other professionals

The presumed ability to “multitask” is greatly overrated, says Brother Curtis Almquist.

Courtesy of Curtis Almquist

The presumed ability to “multitask” is greatly overrated, says Brother Curtis Almquist.

ST. PETERSBURG

A monk will teach the art of listening during a visit today to St. Petersburg. Brother Curtis Almquist of the Society of St. John the Evangelist is visiting at the invitation of the St. Petersburg Bar Association.

Lucas Fleming, a lawyer, attests that Almquist practices what he preaches.

"I have been amazed over the years (and it has been 15 that I have known Curtis) at how well Curtis remembers conversations we had 10 years ago," Fleming, who is running unopposed to be the bar association's next president, said in an email. "It really confirms for me that my time with Curtis is time that he takes seriously. Imagine if every client felt that way when they left our offices?"

Besides lawyers, Almquist, who has been a monk for 25 years, also works with students, psychiatrists, psychologists, business professionals, teachers and clergy.

The self-described 1970s radical worked in international development and was a parish priest before joining the small Episcopal order, which has a monastery near Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., and another, Emery House, in West Newbury, Mass.

This week Almquist answered a few questions about himself and the art of listening.

How has your vocation prepared you to teach others about deep listening?

Monks have sometimes been called "professional listeners." Monks live under a vow of "obedience," which comes from the Latin, obaudire, to listen deeply. The monastic "default" is silence, not because there's nothing to say, but because there's so much to be heard if we listen deeply. Listening is a learnable skill.

Do you spend a certain amount of time daily in prayer and contemplation?

Yes, daily. We have a daily cadence of corporate prayer and worship; however the real quest is to learn to "pray our lives," that is, to practice God's presence, not just when we worship, but as we work and walk, talk and listen.

Is there a spiritual element to being a good listener?

Live in the "now." Be really present to life — not the life you once had, or think you could or should have, but life on life's terms, now.

Do our ubiquitous technological devices hinder good listening? Is there a solution?

There's the seduction to be "virtually present" in all kinds of places and platforms and thereby miss being really present in the moment. The presumed ability to "multitask" is greatly overrated; meanwhile you miss the real deal of life. Doing one thing at a time — at least some of the time — will help defrag your soul. Presuming that you must be available to others 24/7 is an invitation to get lost. Putting boundaries around your availability to your own self and your availability to others is crucial. You're worth it!

Are you paid for your work and does that conflict with your vow of poverty?

No, I do not receive any personal income.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at wmoore@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2283.

If you go

"Listening Deeply; Seeing Clearly," by Brother Curtis Almquist, Society of St. John the Evangelist. Open to the public. Registration: 1:15 to 1:30 p.m., program 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., today. Mirror Lake Lyceum, 737 Third Ave. N., St. Petersburg. Contact the St. Petersburg Bar Association at stpetebar.com, or call (727) 823-7474 for details.

Monk to share listening lessons with lawyers and other professionals 04/02/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jameis Winston held his pro day at Florida State's indoor practice facility. His pro team will be getting one soon.
  2. Where to see Fourth of July fireworks across Tampa Bay

    Events

    Looking for Independence Day fireworks shows in the Tampa Bay area? There are plenty of options, including the massive shows in Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and New Port Richey, as well as smaller shows across Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Sarasota counties.

    Fireworks explode with color over the Nature Coast Freedom Festival in Hernando County. There will be a variety of fireworks displays across the Tampa Bay area for the Fourth of July in 2017. [WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2009)]
  3. PolitiFact takes on big health care question: Does GOP bill cut Medicaid?

    National

    Politics and math don't always get along, and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway raised a common complaint about how people talk about the future of Medicaid spending under the Senate Republican health care bill.

    Alice Jacobs, 90, at Dogwood Village, a nonprofit county-owned nursing home in Orange, Va., on June 23. Medicaid, targeted by Republicans' health care bill, pays for most of the 1.4 million elderly people in nursing homes, some of whom do not know they are on it. (Khue Bui/The New York Times)
  4. Higher Social Security payouts help Florida post a big jump in personal income

    Personal Finance

    Personal income grew 1.3 percent in Florida in the first quarter of this year, a four-way tie among all states for second-fastest growth behind Idaho.

  5. Sofia Coppola's 'The Beguiled' compares to the 1971 version

    Movies

    It was a man's world in 1971 when Clint Eastwood starred in The Beguiled, a Southern gothic thriller that's as misogynistic in hindsight as old movies can be.

    Nicole Kidman, left, and Colin Farrell in a scene from “The Beguiled.”