Outside beyond our farmhouse front porch under the shade of tall walnut trees I hear the plunk of round green peas falling into the Tupperware bowls on our laps making their own percussion music as our fingers rhythmically pop the smooth green pods open and discard the shells, whop, plop my mother and I sit in lawn chairs shucking the morning’s harvest of peas.
I can’t remember the specifics of our talking, chatting, a mix of conversation and silence and oh yes my mother hummed as I often do without knowing oh so revealing if we had some recorded snippets from decades ago.
I imagine we talked about common daily things but it’s a stretch to remember.
The tone was peaceful and calm with the sound of horse and buggy rolling by, neighbors driving into town perhaps.
I wish she could have shared her wisdom under this shade tree, just slipped it in growing out of simplicity, pain, family, but some words of hers were hidden away like that white cotton handkerchief most Mennonite women tuck in their bras bringing out when needed to wipe a sweaty brow or comfort a crying child.
I listen between the lines to hear her gentle wisdom hearing it in the silences too.
I stumble to the front porch slowly opening the heavy screen door hoping to dampen the noise as it open and settle onto the rattan loveseat in the cool dark quiet.
I am enveloped in the huge space of quiet dark universe with starlight and moonlight shining on the ground the open desert landscape stretching out wildly in what we call a front yard.
In the distance the hoot of an owl followed again by long silence stillness broken later by the far piercing cry of a coyote to the south, a minute later another one joins in and I listen to that mesmerizing chorus then all is quiet again, this stillness, and I hear the call of the owl.
I sat today with an older woman
age 85 recounting her sadnesses
her head leaning forward
barely any pauses
in her litany.
As our hour goes on
I ask if she’d like some conversation “yes but first I need to tell you more…” perhaps that’s what is needed,
to speak, to be heard
and so I listen.
As the hour is ending my mind wanders
glimpsing a memory of my friend Norie
crawling under the table in the hospital
to hold our friend’s feet during a time of darkness
the needed medicine for that day and other days
I wonder… and ask the woman if I may touch her feet.
She is startled and says yes.
I drop to the floor and place a hand around each ankle
holding her feet silently, my head bowed.
She goes silent and then I hear her sob “no one has touched me for years” we hold this silent pause.
The hour is over.
Pamela Dintaman, 2017
Reverie… paying attention to what pops up, mind wandering,
an important part of the process of listening.
Credit to August Cwik’s workshop Nov 2019 for this understanding of reverie…
Sometimes we are diverted to or distracted by something else during a session,
but we can realize it IS connected to the conversation.
Images, thoughts, feelings, books, myths, flotsam and jetsam–
that pop up can be the compass to the work
and the things we sometimes ignore in ourselves,
in a conversation, in a therapy session.
It is actually when we get into theory
that we are farthest away from experiencing,
it is a form of distancing–rather than
entering into that space of healing.
“Let the imagination be the eyes of the heart.” –Cwik
There is a life force in seeds buried in the ground. This is especially amazing in the desert where drought-resistant seeds
lie in the dark for long periods
awaiting the right conditions to spring forth.