Having spent the whole winter listening—to the river, to the wind, to the crackling of the fire, to my wild, chaotic heart—it felt like perfect timing today, now that spring has arrived to melt the ice and warm the earth, to find David Whyte‘s poem, “A Winter of Listening.” Mark Nepo, author of Seven Thousand Ways to Listen, says “to listen is to lean in, softly, with a willingness to be changed by what we hear.”

This winter I was changed by what I heard when I leaned in and listened.


No one but me by the fire,
my hands burning
red in the palms while
the night wind carries
everything away outside.

All this petty worry
while the great cloak
of the sky grows dark
and intense
round every living thing.

What is precious
inside us does not
care to be known
by the mind
in ways that diminish
its presence.

What we strive for
in perfection
is not what turns us
into the lit angel
we desire,

what disturbs
and then nourishes
has everything
we need.

What we hate
in ourselves
is what we cannot know
in ourselves but
what is true to the pattern
does not need
to be explained.

Inside everyone
is a great shout of joy
waiting to be born.

Even with the summer
so far off
I feel it grown in me
now and ready
to arrive in the world.

All those years
listening to those
who had
nothing to say.

All those years
how everything
has its own voice
to make
itself heard.

All those years
how easily
you can belong
to everything
simply by listening.

And the slow
of remembering
how everything
is born from
an opposite
and miraculous
Silence and winter
has led me to that

So let this winter
of listening
be enough
for the new life
I must call my own.

© David Whyte
From The House of Belonging
Many Rivers Press

2 Responses to “Listen”

  1. Sheila Peters

    Lovely, Leslie. That wonderful time of year just before everything bursts open – I often find myself hunkering down beside a little clump of melting snow and listening to it melt – an amazing intimacy. A musician I know like to figure out what notes the creek is playing. Always worth stopping to hear what the physical world has to say.

    • commatologist

      I love the idea that the creek plays a song. Thank you, Sheila.


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