There is much that can be said about the value of listening. We have been exploring the value of listening for over 11 years at the LP. It feels as if there is no limit to the value of listening, one human being to another human being.
Yet listening can be a subtle act, a subtle thing. We’ve been questioned: What, you just listen? You don’t help anyone?
In the past this kind of questioning opened in me a desire to explain and tout the value of listening. This morning… such questioning opens… a deeper desire to… just listen. The cost of not listening is so dear.
Before leaving you with this poem below, I’m curious about listening as an act of forgiveness. My intention was to offer beauty and hope for the New Year and yet the poem that inspired this brief letter is not lightweight. Forgive me. Please accept this poem as recognition of the priceless value of your commitment to listening in our community.
with humble thanks for your heavy work,
A Ritual to Read to Each Another
If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dike.
And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.