When we sit down together, and you prepare to speak, I am listening.
I am listening with my ears, my heart and my mind.
I am listening with my history, my learnings, my experiences and my hopes.
I am listening as a human, listening to another human.
I am listening with my DNA, my neural connections and with my soul.
I am listening hard, with everything in me.
When you speak, I hear your voice.
I hear your questions, I hear your fears.
I hear your confusion and your certainty.
I hear the things you are speaking aloud, for the first time,
or in a way you might not have spoken before.
I hear your hope and your despair.
I hear your journey, through countries far and wide,
through landscapes that exist within you,
through decades of life.
I hear your passion for justice, for love, for better days, for the future.
I hear your longing for connection, for peace and for healing.
I hear your tenacity, your hesitancy, your courage and your anxiety.
I hear the story of a love gone wrong,
a parent who left too soon,
and a child who you once wronged.
I hear the wrongs done to you that you continue to do to yourself.
I hear of the compassion that you felt that you now freely give away,
of the optimism you have not lost, despite a thousand obstacles.
I hear your sobs of relief and your cry of pain.
I hear the injury behind the anger and the exhaustion behind the irritation.
I hear the dreams you are just barely hanging on to, the firm decision that you’ve already made,
the surprise at your own ferocity and the caution at your own boldness.
I hear a teenager, looking for a hug,
I hear a wise old woman, looking back at a life.
I hear a young man, pushing through his pain
and a young woman, finding her voice.
I hear a human asking for acceptance, just the way they are.
I hear a wife longing to be seen and a husband wondering if his love will be enough.
I hear parents loving, loving, loving their children, in the very best way that they can.
I hear the life and the death.
I hear the riches and triumphs, the sickness and the poverty.
I hear life.
I listen with myself.
I have misheard and misunderstood.
I have heard what no one else had ever heard before.
I have wondered at the questions and sat in awe of the stories.
I have become wealthy beyond measure with the sound of your voice.
I have become wiser with the knowledge of you, with the hearing of you.
I have found myself losing my pessimism with every word that is spoken.
I hear the people.
It is our song. It belongs to us all.
Listen to it.
It heals us, to speak and to listen.
I am listening.