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#22: The Ear of your Heart

Updated: Sep 18, 2021

Hi Folks,

Do you listen with the “ear of your heart?”

One of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, wrote in her poem The Dovekie, in her book Why I Wake Early:


Once again,

as again, and again,

we are given

this single wisdom:

to know

our world

is to be busy

all day long

with happiness…

During these difficult times, it seems to me so important to listen. We need to listen to ourselves and we need to listen to one another and we need to listen to nature.

Listening — truly listening — is an important component of having a good life. Listening opens us up. Not listening closes us down.

I am reading a book right now with the long title Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? I have been thinking a lot about racism this semester with my CSUMB students. It has been a dark and deeply depressing study.

I don’t know what the answers are, but I do believe they will come from learning to listen to one another. We need to listen to one another as other people speak their truth. This is uncomfortable, but perhaps that discomfort can become a source of motivation.

We need to listen not only with our ears, but with our hearts. I once asked a monk what it means to listen with one’s heart? His answer was that we listen in such a way that we are willing to be changed by what we hear.

“To know our world/is to be busy/all day long/with happiness.” It is easy to take this too literally. It is poem after all, and poems are meant to stimulate thought rather than dictate thought.

Happiness comes from giving to others and what better gift than to listen? To listen with one’s heart is to open up the space of happiness even in the midst of sorrow. One great question is to simply sit with them and say something such as, “tell me your story: what is it like being you? What has brought you sorrow? What has brought you joy?

Then don’t talk — simply listen with the ear of you heart.

To Listening!


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