December 12, 2010

to listen

"the first duty of love is to listen"
- Paul Tillich

this was the quote attached to the string of my teabag when I woke up this morning to snow lightly falling down over the farm across the street and a whole long list of lectures I haven't gone through yet. and it made me think.

there seems to be a bit of a dip in moods lately all around me - and I'm not sure if it's that we have less daylight or that the cold and holiday season make everyone feel a greater need for comfort and connection, or if it's that we're approaching real studying for the Boards and then starting in all separate directions - literally thousands of miles apart - to start our core clerkships which will be the first time we're really taking care of patients - but I find myself walking around with a knot in my throat a lot of the time lately and I can't quite pinpoint why.

and when I talk to friends about how they're feeling - about life, about school, about relationships - everyone seems to feel one step off, one moment removed, just a bit too often. I keep thinking and asking about the things that seem to help. Is it working out? eating well? sleeping enough?

I think it comes back to just listening - either feeling like you're being listened to, or that you're being a good listener. and, according to my morning tea, the listening is actually loving, which makes it feel even more critical.

I think the knot might have just loosened a little bit.

Sleeping in the Forest

I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees.
All night I heard the small kingdoms
breathing around me, the insects,
and the birds who do their work in the darkness.
All night I rose and fell, as if in water,
grappling with a luminous doom.
By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better.

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