listening for the voice of Love

I woke this morning, listening. Initially, sometime shortly after 5, the ears of my heart were tuned to the cacophony of birdsong, breaking open the dawn. A full month since I last wrote about their riotous welcome to the day, as the dawn has inched its way ever closer to the coming stillness of the solstice, the chorus has grown, even as the window over my head has been flung wide open. Again, this morning, the dawn was drenched with rain, a steady beat that had accompanied my dreams throughout the night, as it was now accompanying my waking, the song, the earth. Quenching it all. Washing the last of spring’s pollen from the treetops, bathing newly born seedlings. At least, that is what I heard.

Now the cardinal remains. The woodthrush. One noisy robin. The drip-dripping from saturated limbs.

Perhaps I could say I have been listening to the earth here, close to home, in a new way this season. Confinement has made me more intimate with her, and there have been moments of delight in what has been discovered, some of it hidden in plain view – the young dogwood that has been growing in the cohosh patch, at the base of the bird feeder, likely deposited there by those hungry songsters, now as tall as my shoulder. How could it be I’d not noticed her until now?  Then there has been that which has been uncovered, buried beneath mats of invasive species, waiting for the light—Canada mayflowers, the heart shaped leaves of common violets, a tiny sprig of holly.  Is this also a kind of listening? This uncovering of what lies beneath, awaiting attention.

Attention is everything. Nothing else is needed. I am trying to trust that. Again.

Two nights ago, I tuned in to a conversation on the topic of listening. And as I listened, what was uncovered in me, which has perhaps been covered over by my own creeping mat of time, was the exquisite sacredness of the Unknown and Unknowable. Framed in the language of mystery, I was reminded that the depths of life are always unknowable— the depths of myself, the depths of another, the depths of this experience, the depths of the sacred, the depths of the meaning of it all—all of it a mystery that I can never fully know, or name, or understand, or begin to control.  

Alongside, wedded if you will to, those blessed reminders of the profound sacredness of life, stood the reality of my humanity. Human, of the earth. Humble.. tangible…palpable…visible…and somehow mysteriously growing, right here where my feet are planted in the earth of life. I was reminded that to be human is to be humble, and that this humility of knowing must also, always, walk with me to those whom I love (and even, especially perhaps, to those whom I struggle to love). I was reminded that I cannot possibly know –indeed it is hubris to assume so– or name or control or judge the mystery that is unfolding within the other and their experience of life. I cannot know what is right for them, what they should think or feel, how they should live or move or have their being.

There is nothing to fix.

I know sometimes I have acted as if ‘fixing’ is an aspect of love.  Fixing is not the same thing as healing, though. Fixing assumes something is broken. Healing assumes something is intact. Perhaps- only perhaps- healing might require an uncovering of that innate wholeness, that self-integrity, a restoring of that which is buried.  Perhaps at times we can help pull away the mat of self-denial and self-loathing that has been laid upon another (or, more appropriately, our own selves) by human hands or by life itself.  But perhaps it also is hubris to think we know what help is needed. Would not the earth outside my window find a way to thrive without my hands? And who am I to decide how she should look? Or be. To name what is beauty and what is scourge.

But if I listen, rather than do. Receive the other, rather than give (advice, help, etc), trusting that to receive the other—to receive them as whole and wise and sacred and gifted and utterly unknowable— is to give them the gift of themselves. It is to honor the innate sacredness of their life.

And so, I woke this morning listening. Listening to my worry, listening to my fear, in that cacophony that woke me from my sleep. Worried about a loved one.  I wondered if my love too often is misguided, my longing for the other’s wholeness too often stripping them of their own integrity. I wanted to fall beneath that anxiety into the arms of trust, into the arms of the Unknowable, to let myself be small in the arms of that great mystery. Break the pattern of covering over the blessedness of the other’s mysterious beauty with my ‘fixes’.  

And so I listened.

Not for a solution. Not to the current unraveling experience. But to my own fear, seeking the gentler truth that lay beneath it, that is empathy, that is communion, that is Love. And agreeing to let go, again, of doing— something to alleviate the fear in me, or to pacify the other (is that pacification actually a silencing? The opposite of truly listening?) — choosing instead to ‘simply’ Be With. And to Let it also simply Be.

Let the storms bring down the deadwood, crash into my shelter. Let the rains drench the exposed. Let the sap run, the pollen feed, the seeds fall, the seedlings get trampled or eaten, the weeds grow, the wildness of life do its work. Let it Be.

In this place I am/we are Held. By the deeper mystery within, which I trust can hold it all.  Unseeable, but intuited, Wisdom that knows better than I the hows and whys of Love and Life. In stillness alone, in this great undoing, can I rest. Can I behold. Can I hear the voice of Love.

Can I see the young dogwood growing strong, hidden in plain view.

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