A whisper is enough

At some place deeper than where I usually live, I’ve passed the proverbial tipping point or am very near it, it seems, with the unrelenting offense from Washington – and from elsewhere, to be sure, but especially from Washington. I wonder less about what shoe will drop next, expecting that all of them will drop sooner or later. Like Job, I hear one message of disaster after another with hardly a moment between to catch my breath. This steady diet of news, opinions, and lamentations, which started to get on my nerves long ago, is now at the very gates of my soul. How long can I live in this angst, I wonder?

Something has shifted, I’m not sure what, like the moment I wrote about recently when spring announces her sure arrival. I’m not ready to put my snow shovel away or take the snow tires off my car. But my perspective seems to be getting longer, and I’ve started to think this, too, shall pass, as times like it, and worse, have passed before. Julian was onto something when she wrote, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

It clicked for me this morning after a longer-than-usual meditation, reading some Shunryu Suzuki, and finally catching something Parker Palmer wrote in his On Being column today, “This Mary Oliver poem [“Mindful”] carries a reminder I can use every day: look and listen all the time for whatever it is that will ‘kill me with delight,’ and that will ‘instruct me in joy and acclamation,’ that will help me grow wise.”

Deep beneath all the bluster of these days, all the arguments and aspersions and the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, still there is something that will kill me with delight and instruct me in joy and acclamation. It’s not going to come from Washington, and it’s not likely to appear in the daily news, but it’s there nevertheless, more subtle and intimate. Maybe it’s akin to the assurance Job finally came to after the long debate about the causes of and remedy for his affliction, that there’s more afoot in creation than we can know, and that nothing and no one can upset God’s plans (Job. 42:1). Ruffle, perhaps, but not upset.

Whatever it is, when I listen, when I allow enough silence of mind and heart, there is a whisper, an inexplicable knowing, and it’s enough.


  1. Ember Hilkert · · Reply

    Your post brings to mind what I read recently in Anne Lamott’s “Small Victories”. She laments that there must have been a book of the bible that was somehow misplaced; a book “that dealt with how we’re supposed to recover from the criticism session in the Garden, and discover a sense that we’re still welcome on the planet.”. She goes on to say that, “Various chapters and verses of this book would remind us that we are wanted and even occasionally delighted in…”. Since that book is not to be found Anne says, (caps are mine) “WE HAVE TO WRITE THAT BOOK OURSELVES.”.

    My daily goal is to keep my eyes, ears and heart open so that I write my own book in bits and pieces every day, if not several times a day. I find myself doing it with pictures, bits of prose, the first sounds of Spring (the peepers are waking up!).

    My most recent moment was a visit to the Bluffs, camera in (frozen) hand, delighting in the dichotomy between the bright blue sky and the frozen shore of Lake Ontario. Breathtaking.

  2. Ember, I’ve not read enough of Anne Lamott; Small Victories may be next. At the heart of it, writing that missing book ourselves is not to me all that different from the ancients writing what’s in our established scriptures. It’s just that what we’re writing doesn’t have accretion of 2,000 to 4,000 years of transmission and tradition. We must, all of us, attempt to express something intelligible of our experience of life, of the divine, and we must do it with little more than the glimpse of that “something white, uncertain / Something more of the depths” that Frost wrote about in his poem, For Once, Then, Something.”

    The spareness of your photo tests us. In such austerity, will we see, can we, the same rich wholeness of life that’s there year-round?

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