Wild & Precious Life

a collection of beautiful words…..

Tag: jeannette encinias

Essay by Jeannette Encinias

Listening is an act of love. An art form. A skill that you can cultivate and practice.

Listening is a gift of silence, of learning, of putting to bed your hungry words so that you can scoop up the voice of another person and hold it in the space between your life and theirs.

What an intimacy this can be. Your ears astute, a person’s story heard, a thread to bind you in a window of time.

Have you felt that before? I have. It’s divine.

Our world is noisy. It’s getting noisier by the day. Peace and quiet often seem out of reach. People feel unheard, left out, alone. The shouting is getting louder. The fences are growing taller. We have created a world where only the voices we are comfortable hearing can be heard and we grow narrow by this apathy. We dismiss each other. We turn our backs. We create an echo chamber that cages us all.

Listening well is a way to untether yourself from this madness. A way to move toward love and a more expansive understanding. A way to grow up and grow wise.

Listening is not passive. It requires your breath and your presence. You must call on your patience and your strength. Listening asks more from you than talking ever will.

Talking is easy and we know it.

But can you be curious and open without shutting the doors of your mind too quickly? Can you sense the fear that lives inside of us all? The love and the longing as well? Can you breathe into the beating heart and expanding lungs? Can you remember that we all have blood and bones and one day none of that at all?

Can you skip a beat? Can you skip two?

There are times to make your voice heard. There are years when your story must be told and when your silence is not a gift. Shout it then. Write it. Paint it. Sing it. Let no one and nothing stop you. And then there are times to prop up those ears and lift your chin. Offer up your beautiful attention.

Just listen.

As we move into the rest of this truly breathtaking year and into the rest of our lives, can you study the art of listening? Can you shake up the talking vs. listening ratio? Can you let this listening strengthen you and not get the best of you? Can you become more than you ever were before?

These are questions I ask myself and so here I offer them to you.

NOURISHED by Jeannette Encinias

I worry seriously
about only a handful of things.
Eyes to the ground
furrowed brow
beating heart
sleep.

Then I remember
that I am here right now.
Here-
with good work and a big, bright love.
With a dog who just had a bath
after running in the mud.
With a mother who gardens and does yoga
and a father who makes rosaries and reads books.
And my brother, my friend, with a sweet baby daughter.

And I have my legs
and they walk for miles when I worry.
And I have my soul
and it is vast and kinder
than this wild world.
And I have books
with their strong spines and medicine.
And music, all the music
and there is the mailman
who delivers mail almost every single day
bless him.

And the market with wine and radishes.
And the flowers falling through my hands
trusting me to make bouquets.
And there is the green earth and the tall mountain
the water birds, seedlings, snowfall, the sound of rain, sun finally
spring!

The bed and the water.
The paper and the pens.
The bathtub and the salt.
And the food he made me
and the letter she sent me
and Spain, San Francisco
your bedroom, this kitchen.

It’s all been so much beauty among
the worry.
And I have kept nourished
and alive
this way.

Beneath The Sweater And The Skin by Jeannette Encinias

How many years of beauty do I have left?
she asks me.
How many more do you want?
Here. Here is 34. Here is 50.

When you are 80 years old
and your beauty rises in ways
your cells cannot even imagine now
and your wild bones grow luminous and
ripe, having carried the weight
of a passionate life.

When your hair is aflame
with winter
and you have decades of
learning and leaving and loving
sewn into
the corners of your eyes
and your children come home
to find their own history
in your face.

When you know what it feels like to fail
ferociously
and have gained the
capacity
to rise and rise and rise again.

When you can make your tea
on a quiet and ridiculously lonely afternoon
and still have a song in your heart
Queen owl wings beating
beneath the cotton of your sweater.

Because your beauty began there
beneath the sweater and the skin,
remember?

This is when I will take you
into my arms and coo
YOU BRAVE AND GLORIOUS THING
you’ve come so far.

I see you.
Your beauty is breathtaking.

Gathering Light For Winter by Jeannette Encinias

When you have no words for the wounds
when your body is as hallowed out and dark
as a jack-o-lantern
in November
when you have lost your north, your south,
your east and your west
stay still.

Words for the pain are forming
beneath the skin of your patience.
Your body is gathering light for winter.
Your compass is emerging through water.

Sometimes dying is the only way to live again.
It may take all your stories away.
It may hunt and kill your pride
so you are left with nothing
but questions and space
howling into the night
what next? what now? what for?

This is when grace
pours her warm milk
into your wounds
and advises you to rest.
To steal the secrets of sorrow
and learn her heavy song
so that you can become an instrument
of resilience, turning ever forward
with more than you were born with.

For isn’t holding hands with
sorrow a bridge?
Dying while you are alive
birthing your next self
and then
beginning anew.

Begin Again by Jeannette Encinias

Begin Again. Little moments. Running the water. Tending to the plants. Cutting the fruit. Opening the curtains so that the entire sky can greet you. It’s never easy but, no matter. Steam from the tea so quiet. An open book, and door, and arms.

You woke up today. You are alive. This is a gift. Even though life may beat you down. Hard. Even though things, situations, and people you love may be taken away from you so that your arms can memorize the grace of letting them go. Even then, especially then, begin again.

Remind yourself that nothing really dies, rather, it transforms. Everything and everyone you have ever loved lives in the mysterious memory of your cells.

Turning. Healing. Renewing itself. Until one day, a photograph of someone very dear, long gone, visits your mind and you bow your head with appreciation.

Meanwhile, take your pain to the sea and your trouble to the mountain. Leave it there and walk home clean. When failure knocks and rattles and quakes, let it. Watch it make a fresh canvas of you. Failure, the great teacher, is kinder if you thank her as you are getting up off the floor. She knows something that you don’t know: she is usually the last face you will see before breaking through. Such a little light in the crack of the door.

But today, if you are wading through the waters of loss or confusion: begin again. Open the avocado. Draw the bath. Gather the books. Play your favorite album. Write. Create art. Open your arms. Move your legs. Lovely, little blessings. Whispering to life that you won’t give up.

Not ever.
Not ever.
Not ever.

Lyrics from ‘Anthem’ by Leonard Cohen

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Martha Beck

There is a forest in your heart, a vast ocean in your mind, a universe in your soul. However trapped or frightened you may feel, you were born to be an explorer.

Maya Angelou

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

Excerpt from High Tide in Tucson by Barbara Kingsolver

Every one of us is called upon, perhaps many times, to start a new life….And onward full-tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore. To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another–that is surely the basic instinct…Crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is.

C.G. Jung

The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.