June 20–Simply by Listening

In his poem, “The Winter of Listening,” David Whyte observes:

What is precious

inside us does not

care to be known

by the mind

in ways that diminish

its presence.

What is precious inside of us?  To me, this speaks to the vast importance of human experience and the knowledge, even the wisdom that resides in a deep, often dark place inside of us.  Some call it the soul.  This is not a place, a knowledge or wisdom, that can be explicated by reason.  There is no such thing as a dissection to lay out all the parts.  There is no such thing as a summary or Cliff notes guide to what we find there.  What is found deep within us cannot be diminished by the mind’s attempt to know.  In fact, what we find there at first glance seems useless to the mind that wants to know.  Experience is required.

“But why can’t I just love the person while judging what he/she does as an abomination? That’s reasonable.”  And those standing around nod their approving heads.  This is a reasonable approach.  Love the sinner.  Hate the sin.  This will work.  We approve. We feel good about ourselves, and nothing has to change.

“How many gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer folk do you know?” The uncomfortable silence follows while the mind tries to find some answer that will fill it.

What disturbs

and then nourishes

has everything

we need.

What we hate

in ourselves

is what we cannot know

in ourselves but

what is true to the pattern

does not need

to be explained.

When I  identify that part of another human being that I want to allow myself to hate, I begin to see what part of my own soul’s truth I will never be able to hear.  Until that time when the pattern emerges.  What is true to the pattern does not need to be explained. Love is one of those patterns.  Fear is one of those patterns. The need to be touched is one of those patterns.  We experience these patterns, and when we have experience with those (or their sins) we have allowed ourselves to hate, we begin to see that what separated us was a pretense and not real.  Our minds could never have known.  Only the wisdom of our experience.  This I know from experience.

Inside everyone

is a great shout of joy

waiting to be born. . .

I feel it grown in me

now and ready

to arrive in the world.

All those years

listening to those

who had

nothing to say.

All those years


how everything

has its own voice

to make

itself heard.

All those years


how easily

you can belong

to everything

simply by listening.*

Whyte’s poem continues, but today, for me in this world this is enough.  I can belong to everything simply by listening.  That powerful truth takes me to the more disturbing question.  Do I want to belong to everything, and by extension, everyone?

Bob Patrick

*”The Winter of Listening” published in River Flow, by David Whyte

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