Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

Links to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimages are on the navigation links to the right of the web page.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Don't Speak

There's a wonderful line in the movie and Broadway play "Bullets over Broadway". Whenever the young writer, played by John Cusack, tries to express his infatuation with the veteran movie actress (Diane Wiest), she pushes her hand into his face, smushing his eyeglasses, and blocks him mouth. She says this while melodramatically saying "Don't speak. Don't speak! Don't speak."

You may notice that there are times when I don't post things to my blog. It's not that I have little to say. I think most people are shocked whenever I express such a thought. No, I'm simply in a mode of listening rather than speaking, of tuning in rather than merely hearing.

Listening isn't the same thing as hearing after all. You have the sense of hearing at all times, even in your sleep. You may not be responding on a conscious level, but the ear drums are responding and the brain is detecting auditory signals. But you're not listening by default.

To listen is to take in the sounds and to incorporate them into your active mind. You may be processing, remembering, reacting, or all three. When I listen, I'm surprised at times with what I have been hearing, with what I was not processing just moments ago, not remembering, not reacting.

And life sometimes moves us in a direction where we're so knocked around that we don't have the mental legroom to go the extra mile and actually listen to what our ears are telling us. We're busy planning, judging, and explaining.

So sometimes, when I feel as though I've reached a point of saturation, I realize that I might not actually be listening.

And listening isn't just with our ears. Have you ever clanged a gong, a glass, a bell and listened to the resonating sound? Have you done so while holding that object? You may notice that the object continues to vibrate, well past the moment that you stopped hearing the sound.

Our bodies feel things, hear things, grasp things without our ears. All our senses contribute to our ability to take in the external world. Our cerebral mind may be too busy to cope with all that input, so it filters out things that it deems extraneous. Feedback that might be redundant. Sounds that might be irrelevant. Sights that might be unremarkable.

So with our entire physical being, we go through life not "listening to what we hear". Or, perhaps it's not "noticing what we our senses have found".

And in those times I feel overwhelmed, I pause and breathe. I walk. I dispel the words coming out of my mouth that block me from listening to the rhythms of life, from seeing the child of God before me, from feeling the heartbeat of the Holy Spirit.

And I kick myself off my comfortable place, sit perched and alert, watch, listen, feel.

And I don't speak.