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Smithsonian magazine once did a feature on a master stone carver from England named Simon Verity. Verity learned stone carving by restoring thirteenth-century cathedrals in Great Britain. The four basic tools of his trade are a hammer, a punch, a chisel, and a rasp.

The authors who interviewed Verity and watched him work noticed something interesting.

“Verity listens closely to hear the song of the stone under his careful blows,” they write. “A solid strike and all is well. A higher pitched ping and it could mean trouble; a chunk of rock could break off. He constantly adjusts the angle of the chisel and the force of the mallet to the pitch, pausing frequently to run his hand over the freshly carved surface.”

In the same way, when we engage disciplines for our own character development, we must listen with great sensitivity to how our heart and our soul respond to each.