Daily Doodle #14: Listening is like the Rain

Ink on paper. 7 1/2" x 5". 11/ 18/ 2013. Win it here.

I woke up to a gray Seattle day and started doodling buildings, then the sky came alive with swirling rain clouds and rain, and I started musing about the monsoon season when I lived in Arizona. The sky opens, and pours rain, cacti bloom, there's this indescribably sweet smell, streets and washes flood, and there's a rain line so sharp you can actually walk in and out of the storm.

My dad, born and raised in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, taught me how to draw an urban silhouette when I was in 4th grade. We made a black and white cityscape mural all over my walls. It was awesome, we even found some old windows, painted them white and hung them on my walls with lights behind them.  However, my bedspread, a hand-me-down with colorful flowers on it, clearly didn't fit into my black and white designer vision. So, he told me that it was Central Park.

Today's doodle's rain strokes, also remind me of musical staffs, and the first time I heard John Cage's "4 minutes and 33 seconds of Silence." A concert pianist sits down, opens his music, and proceeds to "play" 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence. Framed by the expectation of music, the sounds of the room came alive, and the experience stayed with me as I walked home that rainy day along an old stone and moss covered street in Seattle's Capitol Hill. Listening to the rich and varied sounds of raindrops falling on moss, roof, metal cars, and pavement that day remains one of the most beautiful auditory experiences of my life.

All of these doodle thoughts about urban monsoons, listening to rain like music, and my Dad' growing a big flowery park in the imagination to resolve my 10-year-old-designer-dilemma, reminded my of one of my most favorite quotes: 

Listening is the oldest and perhaps the most powerful tool of healing.  It is often through the quality of listening and not the wisdom of our words that we are able to effect the most profound changes in the people around us.  When we listen, we offer with our attention an opportunity for wholeness.  Our listening creates sanctuary for the homeless parts within the other person.  That which has been denied, unloved, devalued by themselves and by others. That which is hidden.

In this culture the soul and the heart too often go homeless.

Listening creates a holy silence. When you listen generously to people, they can hear truth in themselves, often for the first time.  And in the silence of listening, you can know yourself in everyone.  Eventually, you may be able to hear, in everyone and beyond everyone, the unseen singing softly to itself and to you.

Not long ago I was walking in the rain in the place where I was born, New York City, thinking of the green place where I now live, grateful for the ease with which things grow there.  Not all things have room to grow and fulfill themselves.  The rain made me intensely aware of the hardness and grayness of this world of cement and brick and the awesome capacity  of human beings to prevail over what is natural and bend it to their will. For miles and miles there seemed to be nothing living that could respond to the rain. But the important thing is that the rain comes. The possibility of growth is there even in the hardest of times. Listening is like the rain.

-Rachel Naomi Remen MD from Kitchen Table Wisdom. (So good!)