As the busy edge dissolves we begin to join the conversation through the portal of a present unknowing, robust vulnerability, revealing in the way we listen, a different ear, a more perceptive eye, an imagination refusing to come too early to a conclusion, and belonging to a different person than the one who first entered the quiet. *

The nurse called from the heart failure clinic and asked if I’d made arrangements for the echocardiogram. I responded with some confusion. Was I supposed to make that appointment? I thought my doctor was arranging for that.

Yesterday a new young neighbor told me he would like to help remodel the kitchen. He talked and talked and talked. I could hardly get a word in edgeways. Later I thought “no way is he the one to work with me; he doesn’t listen.”

I’ve always thought I was a “good listener.” But I’m not so sure now. Am I so self-involved right now that I’m the one not listening?

What is going on with my heart? Angeles Arrien’s writes and talks about the 4 chambered heart: “Many native cultures believe that the heart is the bridge between Father Sky and Mother Earth. For these traditions, the ‘four-chambered heart,’ the source for sustaining emotional and spiritual health, is described as being full, open, clear, and strong. She asks:

Where am I half-hearted rather than full-hearted? Closed-hearted rather than open-hearted? Weak-hearted rather than strong-hearted? Confused or doubting in my heart rather than clear-hearted? A healthy heart weans itself from half-hearted, weak-hearted, closed-hearted and confused-hearted ways.

Solomon hadn’t been king for very long when God appeared to him in a dream. “Ask what I should give you,” God said (1 Kings 3:5). Various Bible versions translate what Solomon requested as wisdom or an understanding mind or heart. But the actual translation of the Hebrew says Solomon asked for a “hearing heart,” lev shomia, so he could discern rightly.

In his essay Education of the Heart, Thomas Taaffe, writes, “An educated heart would be educated in the practice of self-knowledge. …about affections, and the ways of interaction; an educated heart, as the place in ourselves and in others where we must especially allow hearing room, would respect transcendence at the horizon of our own self-meaning” (pg. 5

It’s time for me to pay attention to how I’m listening.

*SILENCE taken from the upcoming reader’s circle essay series. ©2013: David Whyte.

About Marian Methner, B.S., D.Min.

Polydox: accepting that we are many labels, I am mother of 4, mother in law (love) of 4 and grandmother of 5. My life is a collection of bits and starts. I was recently on the road for over a year exploring ideas of living in shared housing. A recent summer course in Permaculture design, solidifed my interest in "social permaculture" or ways we interact not only with our Earthly environment but also with each other. I am back Bellingham, Washington, in a small rental house, owned by my ex husband, talk about shared housing, practicing living in community with family, and friends. My doctoral dissertation A Map to Living Open Heartedly, centers around making art as a way to healing. Paradoxiclly, a recent diagnoses of heart failure (cardiomyopathy) expands this exploration...
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2 Responses to listening

  1. Louise says:

    AH Listening…an elusive sense from time to time!

  2. From The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit:
    “To hear is to let the sound wander all the way through the labyrinth of your ear; to listen is to travel the other way to meet it. It’s not passive but active, this listening. it’s as though you retell each story, translate it into the language particular to you, fit it into each story, translate it into the language particular to you, fit it into your cosmology so you can understand and respond, and thereby it becomes part of you. p. 193

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