“As healers we have to receive the story of our fellow human beings with a compassionate heart, a heart that does not judge or condemn but recognizes how the stranger’s story connects with our own…. Our most important question as healers is not, “What to say or to do?” but, “How to develop enough inner space where the story can be received?”
—Henri J. M. Nouwen
A Morning’s Task
He overflows, and I try to empty my self, making space,
opening to the geyser of his soul,
him sharing, his story, his
lifetime of pain, terror, loneliness,
now becoming words spoken,
feelings finally heard, honored
through his voice, my listening.
Listening, without judgement, without my views,
my biases, my edits, just
listening, letting him share his story,
and all its agonies, twists, and turns.
Him, finding his voice, now, sorting it out,
making some sense to it, seeing himself
the hero in this tale,
the good soul he really is
An hour, then another, and into the third,
and he speaks on, now finding the words,
and the order in the telling, seeing his life
as his own story, of survival, achievement,
yes, even success and good coming from all that chaos and pain.
I listen, hard not to judge, not to be the commentator,
just simply being there, ears and heart
accepting, present in his life.
And, in that, a gift to him,
in my humanity, my soul’s journey, Everyman’s
need for someone to listen, to hear
for the very first time—
this becoming my gift to him, his first time
being heard, hearing his
—Neal Lemery, July, 2014