Listen

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I have been grieving this past month. Here in Santa Fe, winter never arrived. It snowed twice and melted off the next morning. It never rained. It’s spring now, the lilacs are budding, the daffodils are in bloom. But the earth is parched, drying out, and if you listen, you can hear her grieve.

Government safety nets are being dismantled, we’re watching neighbors being carted off by ICE, separated from their families, sent back to countries where their lives are at risk. And if we tune into the news, we are met with inconceivable greed and malice. The police are routinely shooting unarmed black men, and a Neo-Nazi is running for the Senate.

What I mean to say is this: how are we handling the enormity of these times?… that simultaneous to what appears to be the triumph of evil, we are bearing witness to, and becoming, the light we have been waiting for.

What I mean to say is this: the gift we have to offer each other now is deep listening. If I am grieving, don’t try to fix me, don’t offer advice. Hold a space for me to tell you how I feel, without having to fend off your well-intentioned suggestions. If we get pulled into strategies, we’ve lost the moment for connection.

People are appalled when I tell them I was a hospice social worker for ten years. “How could you do that?” they say in mock horror. It’s as if they are asking…how did you know what to say? But the dying don’t need solutions or advice. They’re dying. And if they’re on hospice, they know it. They want to tell you about their lives, they want to look through old photo albums with you, so that you can see her as she was, the first woman pilot, looking so smart and young in her uniform. They want to tell you the stories that will help them make sense of their lives, see the pattern that ran through all their choices.

What I mean to say is this: We all crave being listened to that way, and unless we ask for it, we really don’t want advice. We want to be received, accepted for who we are, just as we are, in this one precious illuminated moment. 

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12 thoughts on “Listen

  1. Really beautiful and poignant words, being with people when they are dying are some of the most special connections you can make with another being. In my experience of life shared, being born and dying are the most heartfelt moments of our time on this planet and in our communities. Love your words. Thanks.

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  2. Loved this line, Nancy: “Hold a space for me to tell you how I feel, without having to fend off your well-intentioned suggestions. If we get pulled into strategies, we’ve lost the moment for connection.”

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  3. Yes. Listened to. Seen. Truly heard. I think we all want that. I was very touched by this post. Weird, hard times we live in. 😥

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  4. A great summary of these challenging times and the sweet secret of being heard.

    Here in this spot spring has sprung but unlike your season lost, the rains have refreshed, the creek flows, and nature smiles hope that belies the angst that simmers across the globe. Love you my friend.

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