“Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.”
My husband’s heart beat so hard, I could feel it through the fabric of his shirt. He was anxious, worried, but after a series of tests, the doctors have assured him that the jangling beat—while uncomfortable—is relatively harmless; something, they tell us, to simply be aware of, to listen for. I rest my cheek against the hollow of his collarbone and am mindful of how much our nearly thirty-five years of marriage have opened and deepened our lives, together.
This morning, I stood in the very center of Cranaleith’s labyrinth, rested my hand on my own beating heart, and listened to the quiet–hearing the small, far-away sound of the train whistle, the soft swish of the muffled traffic, the rustling wind in the boughs of the nearby pine trees.
When I provide guests with tours of the grounds of Cranaleith, I find myself filling the air with my chatter about the rock boulders forming the memorial for the Lenni-Lenape, about the social significance of the historic home (built in 1891 for Rachel Avery Foster, an influential suffragette who was friends with Susan B. Anthony), about the idea of the home as the “domestic church,” about the sheltering capacity of the Event and Education Center, about the honeybees, and the gift shop. So much talking. I find I like to wave my arms around as I gesture toward the enormous elm tree, the aerator bubbling in the pond. The beat of my words nearly overwhelms every single person I show the grounds to. So many words, history, thoughts, ideas, so many emotions–passion, excitement, pleasure, joy.
With each person, I always stop at the side of the labyrinth, very near the place where I stood alone this morning, and I remember to fall silent, to invite each person to listen.
We stop talking; we stand still; we breathe deep.
This month, Craig Giandomenico is facilitating “Anxiety and the Christian Spiritual Life” (via Zoom, January 19, 7:00-8:30 pm). This program is for all who deal with anxiety, either as a clinical diagnosis or as the overwhelmingness of life. When we feel anxiety, that nervous chatter, in our physical bodies, what would happen if we were to pause for a moment—to listen to our bodies, to hear the anxiety for what it is? To give our physical selves an opening moment of silence? Would we realize that our bodies, our anxiety, is not who we are, is not connected to what we do, but is, instead, simply something to be aware of—as we listen for something more?
Tim Simmons will be on site January 26 (7:00-8:30 pm) to lead our Community Drumming Circle. It’s a noisy, boisterous communal event, but what feels chaotic at the beginning, merges to feeling beautifully symphonic—as we beat the drums together to find the rhythm–listening to the beats of our own drum, while listening to the beats of the person standing next to us, listening all the while to the quiet sounds between the beats.
Stand by me, still your hearts, and listen. Do you hear it, too? Maybe it is the sound of calming wholeness, spirit, peace, and healing. Maybe you hear love?
Dawn L. Hayward