True listening is worship

Here’s Episode 67 of Turning Towards Life, a weekly live 30 minute conversation hosted by thirdspace coaching in which Justin Wise and Lizzie Winn dive deep into big questions of human living.

You can join our members-only facebook group here to watch live and join in the lively comment conversation on this episode. You can also watch previous episodes there, and on our YouTube channel.

Our conversation for this week begins with a piece by John O’Donohue, from his beautiful book ‘Anam Cara‘.

True listening is worship

It is lovely to have the gift of hearing. It is said that deafness is worse than blindness, because you are isolated in an inner world of terrible silence. Even though you can see people and the world around you, to be outside the reach of sound and the human voice is very lonely. There is a very important distinction to be made between listening and hearing. Sometimes we listen to things, but we never hear them. True listening brings us in touch even with that which is unsaid and unsayable. Sometimes the most important thresholds of mystery are places of silence.

To be genuinely spiritual is to have great respect for the possibilities and presence of silence. Martin Heidegger says that true listening is worship. When you listen with your soul, you come into rhythm and unity with the music of the universe.

Through friendship and love, you learn to attune yourself to the silence, to the thresholds of mystery where your life enters the life of your beloved and their life enters yours.

John O’Donohue – Anam Cara

Photo by Jenny Marvin on Unsplash

Dancing With Me in My Kitchen

Here’s Episode 66 of Turning Towards Life, a weekly live 30 minute conversation hosted by thirdspace coaching in which Justin Wise and Lizzie Winn dive deep into big questions of human living.

You can join our members-only facebook group here to watch live and join in the lively comment conversation on this episode. You can also watch previous episodes there, and on our YouTube channel.

One of the weirdest and yet most understandable features of being a human being is how we’ll box ourselves in to an identity – a particular way of being in the world that allows this but doesn’t allow that; a way that we lay out familiar territory for ourselves, fiercely bounded by shame and self-criticism, that easily stops us from bringing ourselves fully to life and from experiencing all that life is bringing us in each moment.

This is our topic for this week, inspired by Anthony Wilson‘s poem ‘When the Holy Spirit Danced With Me in My Kitchen’. The poem is below, and you can read Anthony’s generous and moving response to our conversation here on his blog.

When the Holy Spirit Danced With Me in My Kitchen

the first thing I noticed was his arms,
thick and hairy like a bricklayer’s
with a tattoo of an anchor
as Churchill had.

‘Coming for a spin?’ he grinned,
in an accent more Geordie than Galilee,
and he whirled me
through tango, foxtrot and waltz
without missing a beat.

‘You’re good,’ I said.  ‘Thanks,’
he said, taking two glasses to the tap.
‘You’re not so bad yourself,
for someone with no sense of rhythm
and two left feet.’
He gave me a wink.

‘It’s all in the waist.
The movement has to start there
or it’s dead.’

‘You’ll find it applies to most things,’
he went on, grabbing the kettle.
‘Writing, cooking, kissing,
all the things you’re good at,
or think you are.’
He winked again.

‘You don’t mind me asking,’ I said,

‘but why are you here?’

‘I thought it was about time,’

he said. ‘I mean, you’ve been full stretch,
haven’t you, what with your job,
feeling like a taxi for the kids,
your family living far away,
and you ‘in your head’ all the time
as you said to someone last week.’

I looked at him and nodded.

‘Go on.’

‘I was going to.’
He got down some mugs.
‘Let’s say I was concerned about you.
The thing is, the three of us,
we like you a lot.
We think you’ve got real potential
as a human.  You’re kind and humorous.
You’re also a little scatty.
We like that.  By the way, that fish curry
you made on Saturday was first class.’

‘You know about that?’
‘Everything you get up to,’
he smiled.  ‘It’s nothing to panic about.
Really.  To tell you the truth
you could do with loosening up a little.
Try not beating yourself up the whole time.
A little less rushing everywhere
would do you good, too.’

‘I thought you might say that.’

‘Look at me,’ he said.

‘I came to say:
Keep Going, and Relax.
Also: keep things simple.
If you are doing one thing,
do that thing.  If you are talking
with someone, listen to them,
do not blame them for being hard work.
Write as if you were not afraid,
and love in this way too.
Be patient with everyone, especially
your relations, who (I can assure you)
think you are rather special.
Make big decisions slowly, and small decisions
fast.  Do not make bitterness your friend.
Pray (I will not mind if you use
made up words for this.)
Garrison was right: ‘Why
have good things you don’t use?’
What you have been given to do,
give yourself to it completely,
only by emptying yourself can you become full.’

by Anthony Wilson from Full Stretch

Photo by Ali Kanibelli on Unsplash

The Best Thing for Being Sad

Here’s Episode 65 of Turning Towards Life, a weekly live 30 minute conversation hosted by thirdspace coaching in which Justin Wise and Lizzie Winn dive deep into big questions of human living.

You can join our members-only facebook group here to watch live and join in the lively comment conversation on this episode. You can also watch previous episodes there, and on our YouTube channel.

This week we talk about learning. Not the kind of learning that fills us with facts, but the kind of learning that allows us to open ourselves to more spacious interpretations of our lives, and which helps us to take new kinds of action and enter into relationships that are more truthful, compassionate and alive.

Along the way we talk about what it is to have a kind of ‘critical reflection’ about our own lives, about the gift that human beings can be to one another when we share our stories and when we can hold our stories ‘lightly’ enough to neither abandon them too quickly nor be rigid about them. And we consider how doing this together – in community wherever we can find it – is necessary for cultivating the courage, hopefulness and care that the world calls for.

Here’s our source:

The Best Thing for Being Sad

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn… “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails.

You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins… you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then – to learn.

Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you.”

— T H White, from The Once and Future King, quoted by Parker Palmer in ‘The Courage to Teach

Photo by Ali Kanibelli on Unsplash