A Story I Heard

A story I heard:

A man was brushing his teeth when he saw an angel standing behind him reflected in the bathroom mirror. The angel said to him, “The world is on fire.” The man, long accustomed to the angel appearing at odd moments, ignored him.

The angel spoke again, “The world is on fire, do something about it.” The man paused and asked, “Just what can we do about it?”

The angel replied, “Not we, you.”

The man scoffed and finished brushing his teeth. “There’s nothing anyone can do about it, let alone me.”

The angel replied, “First, you need to understand what we mean by ‘the world is on fire.’”

“I know what you mean,” the man answered. “There are fires everywhere now. There’s global warming. Species are becoming extinct.”

The angel said, “No, that’s not what we mean. What we mean for you to understand is the world is on fire because there are fires and torments in everyone’s heart.”

“There’s nothing I can do about that either,” the man said.

The angel said, “Yes you can. You can listen to people when they talk instead of butting in and talking over them. That way they will feel heard. Possibly respected instead of rejected.”

“Oh,” said the man, understanding perfectly well his own bad habit.

“And when you listen to others,” the angel continued, “they will shortly begin to listen as well, which in turn will inspire others to listen and feel heard. And soon, as people grow accustomed to listening to each other once again, tempers will cool and they’ll begin to figure out together how to put out all the other fires that torment their hearts.”

I love this story because it’s a reminder that the quiet force of polite listening invites others to feel their place in the world, giving them a sense of purpose and belonging. The angel doesn’t say you have to embrace everything they say, just listen instead of shutting them down with your own voice.

So, I pledge to practice good listening skills, which includes listening with an open heart while others speak. Anyone want to join me in this pledge?


It seems I've been reading a lot about this particular theme recently. How important it is to be an active listener rather than an active talker. There are a lot of people that do want/need to be heard but are unable to to use their voice over others that are more verbal and tend to take over.

This is great advice. Something to practice on a daily basis.

Thank you for posting this article. Great reminder for us all.

Well Street

Active listening is a fundamental component of all coaching curricula and is a skill that becomes easier with practice but full mastery is a different story.

I'll join in this pledge to give other's my full presence.

Serenity Township

Great post! I join the pledge. Like to send it to my sister.


Thanks for this reminder. I, too, will join in on this pledge.


Thanks for joining the pledge, and when necessary please keep my feet to the fire! And, yes, feel free to share this post with anyone or on any other social site.


What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing!!!