Inviting the quiet


My father could hear a little animal step,
or a moth in the dark against the screen,
and every far sound called the listening out
into places where the rest of us had never been.

More spoke to him from the soft wild night
than came to our porch for us on the wind;
we would watch him look up and his face go keen
till the walls of the world flared, widened.

My father heard so much that we still stand
inviting the quiet by turning the face,
waiting for a time when something in the night
will touch us too from that other place.

William Stafford
The Way It Is, New and Selected Poems

Wind in my wheels on today’s ride was welcomed quietness. William Stafford’s Listening is one of my very favourite poems. It speaks to me of lives forever touched for good by the gift of attentive contemplation. “Every far sound called the listening out …”

My longing for the human family tonight is that all of us might learn a tad more gentle reticence, and come to be touched, in the ensuing life-giving hush, “from that other place …”