I have been listening to Anderson Cooper’s 360 podcast this week. Reluctantly. I want in-depth coverage so I know where to direct my prayers, but I’ve been tempted to turn it off several times. As the reporters narrate, the background plays a steady, unrelenting stream of protesters shouting. The energy is too much for me to take in and I want to escape to the silence of my privileged white anchorage and chant “All shall be well.”
I keep listening because those protesters in Minneapolis and elsewhere around the US and the globe, deserve the respect of deep listening. Not listening and analyzing words; rather, a deep listening for feelings that describe experiences.This is the kind of listening that can bring a just peace. Hundreds of oppressed citizens have literally put their lives on the line to tell me they can endure no more. The least I can do is listen.
In his book Silence: The Power Of Quiet In A World Full Of Noise, Thich Nhat Hanh tells of Avalokita, the Bodhisattva of Deep Listening. The name means “the one who listens deeply to the sounds of the world.” “Bodhisattva” refers to someone with great compassion who works tirelessly to mitigate the suffering of others. I, we, can be a Bodisattva of deep listening by willing ourselves to take in the energy of those who are crying out for justice. We can send back a sound of peace and healing. We can send back a commitment to act for a just peace.
Vignette 1: Jung Recounts the Story of the Golden Scarab Beetle
“A young woman I was treating had, at a critical moment, a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. While she was telling me this dream, I sat with my back to the closed window. Suddenly I heard a noise behind me, like a gentle tapping. I turned round and saw a flying insect knocking against the window-pane from the outside. I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. It was the nearest analogy to a golden scarab one finds in our latitudes, a scarabaeid beetle, the common rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata), which, contrary to its usual habits had evidently felt the urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment. I must admit that nothing like it ever happened to me before or since.”
I have honored the place of synchronicity in my life for a very long time. Five years ago my explanation of Carl Jung’s theory was met with incomprehension by a spiritual companion, so I gave her the example of Jung’s scarab beetle at the window. When I finished the story my companion reached into her bag and pulled out a photo of a beetle which she had taken the day before. “And here is your beetle,” she said.
Vignette 3: Yesterday’s Synchronicity
I began my writing session as I always do, with an invocation to Spirit, a request to show me the greatest good for myself and my blogging community. I came upon Mary Oliver’s poem, “Prayer” about casting the ashes of a beloved one upon the wild foam of waves. An hour after publication I heard from a friend I had not heard from for a while; a friend who had just cast precious ashes upon waves.
And the only thing I did was pay attention. We are profoundly connected. Listen.
Soon we live again exuberant and relieved; But now we do a strange Lindy Hop In a marathon not of our making, We drag our weary bodies and souls behind us Waiting for the Big Band to play the last note, Releasing us from our dis-ease.
We yearn to dance again with abandon; But in the time between we endure, Faithful to this dance here and now. Learning the steps as we go Leaning against one another, Cheering on, crying with. Tomorrow’s dance is for tomorrow. Dance today.