The Courage to Listen

Still Doing, Doing Stillness

Easter Sunday Soundings

Me sitting. Sprinkler trickling.
Birds chirping. Plane flying.
Roommate napping. Me pausing.
Scarf wrapping. Me settling. 

Sprinkler sloshing. Fly buzzing.
Birds tweeting. Motorcycles revving.
Wind chiming. Doves hooting.
Curve flattening? Me wondering.

Blossoms popping. Wind whooshing.
Chimes singing. Dogs barking.
Mind slowing. Pen scratching.
Me writing. Words pairing.

Birds cheeping. Clouds floating.
Sun fading. Legs chilling.
Breeze blowing. Clouds fleeing.
Sun warming. Cat purring.

Phone dinging. Me looking. 
Texts connecting. Bocelli singing. 
Clouds gathering. Air chilling.
Geese honking. Me being. 

Not doing. 
Just listening. 
Me sitting. 
Nature nurturing. 

Zoom waiting. 
Humans being. 

Yesterday I had a spare hour. I made time for a spare hour is perhaps the better phrasing. I aimed to sit outside in the sun and write in my journal, which for me is relaxing and still feels productive. A conversation with my inner self is soul food for me. I had eaten too many jelly beans in the morning and my blood sugar was crashing. So I had a handful of pistachios for balance and took my purple pen and red notebook, my blue scarf and blue hat out to the bench. I came back inside to fetch a cushion.  I settled in, pen clicked and poised to write, and my mind was blank. 

I couldn’t think of what to write, so I just listened. Then I jotted down two words at a time. That’s all I had energy to capture. Then the listening became a game. What was I hearing in all that silence, which wasn’t silent at all?  

The bird voices were so distinct, too many to count, none I could identify by name. Me guessing. 

Even as I sat there expecting myself to be writing (doing), I realized I had no extra thoughts in me, only energy for listening. Me witnessing.  

The realizing happened this morning, upon awakening, lots of dreaming but no recalling. I realized that in yesterday’s sitting I was doing “soundings.” Like whales or dolphins calling, then reckoning where they are in response to the sound waves returning, bouncing back. That’s the definition I thought of anyway. 

I wonder if the way I travel through the depths of my life is by reckoning where I am in relation to my To Do list, reaching project deadlines. Or is it by who I am in relation to the people I journey with? And when I stop for an hour, after much doing, to expect some productive journaling of myself, I realize that it’s enough to just sit and listen.  (Even sitting would have been enough, I suppose. But then, that’s not me.)

I realize that it’s enough to sit in the sun, pet the cat when she sat on my legs, notice the clouds and the birds coming and going. 

What is the courage it takes to stop, look and listen?  To reflect on the moments unfolding?  To release your mind from a need to respond except to relax? Accept to relax?  And what is the courage, when or if realization arrives, to go with the flow of your ink, pen it down, type it up, paste it in, and push send? What courage is that? 

I argue it’s courage (creative courage, that is) because it comes from and goes out through the heart. Mind and gut matter, they each play their part, but the heart is what brings them together.

My heart is grateful for digital togetherness (Zoom, phone, text) which is how my family traveled into the same room to safely (and silly) celebrate an hour of Easter together.

United we sit in this COVID moment, listening to learn something new we’d not slowed down to notice til now. Notice the new. Noticing now. The now never ends. It has its next sound... 


How are you listening in the stillness of this moment? What kind of courage are you cultivating to get through these COVID times?