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This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness

Mary Oliver
cited by Parker J Palmer,
Quaker elder and columnist for
On Beinghere

What would the world feel like tomorrow morning if broadcast ‘world news’ tonight was comprised of just the one piece of Wisdom Mary Oliver notes here?

No advice, no opinions, no looking to leaders of any kind, nor any seeking to lead or be led. Just every single person in the world watching quietly, without reaction, and with benign interest, the stream of soul-destroying thoughts ticker-taping inside their own head. And letting them go.

What would the world feel like tomorrow morning if there was a complete absence of noise – noise replaced with no thing other than focused attentiveness, however brief?

Could we laugh at ourselves and our shifting certainties? Could we put to one side our politics and religions, our tribes and education, our perceptions of culture and dominions – even for a little space? Would we yearn to return soon to the stillness and silence of such a soul-building place?

In the morning and at afternoon and evening: let it begin, again, with me.




5 thoughts on “Attentiveness

  1. Oh Simon, you describe the perfect day – when all can suspend their explicit and implicit biases to just feel the soul. Beautiful and hopeful as always…xx


  2. I am reading this in November 2020. You posted this August 19, my birthday, in 2017, the year my husband died. I found this while searching for a source for the Mary Oliver quote. Grateful the threads drew together and brought me here today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. My inattentiveness has meant that I’ve come to your kind note rather late – on Christmas Eve 2020. I too am grateful for the threads that gently draw us to encounter – and for introduction to your own ‘scatteredsacred’ … 🙏. Warmest greetings.


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