"Recently, I was in Sausalito, having breakfast in the valley, looking at the sculpted hills against the morning sky. As happens, things begin to speak. This is what I heard:

On the Ridge

"We can grow by simply lis-
tening, the way the tree on
that ridge listens its branches
to the sky, the way blood
listens its flow to the site
of a wound, the way you
listen like a basin when
my head so full of grief
can't look you in the eye.
We can listen our way out
of howling, the way the heart
can soften the wolf we keep
inside. We can last by listen-
ing deeply, the way roots
listen for the next inch of
earth, the way the old turtle
listens all he hears into the
pattern of his shell.

"That morning, my understanding of listening expanded and I was reshaped yet again. It sounds simple and obvious but it takes time to listen; time for the deeper things to show themselves. Just as we can't see all the phases of the moon on any one night, we can't hear the phases of truth or the heart unless we listen for how the truth of feeling grows full and dark and full again over time. Patience, the art of waiting, is the heart-skill that opens the world; the way opening our eyes is necessary in order to see.

"Deep listening also takes time because things get in the way that we must allow to pass. When we outwait the clouds, we can feel the sun and see the water bead on the hosta. When we outwait the clouds, the birds in our heart come out and the webs in our mind become visible.

"That morning in Sausalito, I learned that listening this deeply is an act of creation that shapes us beyond our will. I've always been taught that first you listen, then you act. This of course gives time for compassion to rise in the heart. But I’m also discovering after all these years that listening deeply over time is one uninterrupted growing — one continuous act. In this way, the tree on that ridge bending to the wind till it grows to the bend is how it listens over time. And in the act of receiving our darkest cries, the heart begins to soften the howl of our wound. The old turtle is mastered by time, until moving at the pace of being is how it listens. Loving you over time, I take you in, until watching you sleep in the hammock is enough to break my heart into blossom."