“Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the
conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.”
– David Whyte
“Put down the weight of your aloneness.” When I first read this line several years ago, it took my breath. I am an introvert, a proud INFJ, a sensitive and old soul, who would rather spend time with her family or drinking tea in silence with her cat than go to a bar in New York City. This strong tendency toward introversion, however, can lead to feelings of isolation. When I am sick or overly worked or stressed or sleep-deprived, I retreat into the sanctuary of my own mind, to my desk in the corner of our small apartment.
For me, the ways in which the world guides us and speaks to us is both frightening and beautiful. At times, more frightening, and other times more beautiful. It is the blessing and the curse of the hyper sensitive individual.
Mary Oliver writes in “Wild Geese,” “The world offers itself to your imagination.” The world is communicative. It calls to us. Wait, notice. Do you see me? Or Shh. Listen. Do you hear that? For the spiritual among us, this means that God is not separate from the world. God does not loom above it, but is present within it, within every thing.
I tend to think of hope as the antithesis of despair, but increasingly, I think there are things that bridge the two: inspiration and attunement. Inspiration is hope’s fuel. But if we are not attuned to the rhythms of the world, to its varied communications, to cries of joy and suffering, then we cannot receive inspiration and we cannot cultivate hope. Despair, on the other hand, is the fruit of numbing and retreat, of forgetting that the world is also beautiful, that beauty can be found in the vastness of landscapes, in the connection between people, and in the mundane.
Communion, by definition, means the intimate exchange of thoughts, feelings, ideas. To be in communion with the world is to be in conversation with it. It is an orientation of openness, of active listening with a willingness to offer something in return. Communion, in the Christian tradition, means Eucharist, which in the most basic terms means sharing and inviting others to the table.
Whyte’s poem is an invitation to a renewed awareness of how the world calls into a deeper sensitivity to what creates wisdom. “Everything” is a reminder that we are not alone, that we have not been abandoned, and that, perhaps, the world is not always falling apart.
The world is speaking. Let us be wise enough to listen.