Listen to It All

  Listen to It All
 ©2021 Louise Gallagher
 I want to listen
 to it all
 to the sun rising
 into the indescribable blue of infinity
 full of whispering clouds floating
 within the sweet nothingness of
 endless sky falling
 into the story of forever 
 kissing the far-off horizon
 where it dips down to touch
 the untold mysteries of the sea 
 diving deep
 deep into the silence
 of the womb
 of mother earth’s divine creation.
 I want to feel 
 it all
 deeper than my skin
 peeled back
 to reveal
 my blood flowing red
 my heart beating wild
 in love with the ecstasy
 of being alive
 in this world
 of beginnings and endings
 forever tied up in the stories we tell
 so that we do not have
 to listen
 to the beauty of the silence
 that yearns to be heard
 above the cacophony of our human noise.
 I want to listen
 without knowing
 I am listening
 to anything
 other than life
 in all its mysterious beauty
 and unfathomable cruelty
 impregnating the darkness and the light
 with the wholeness
 that rises up
 to embrace me
 when I listen
 to it all. 

Can you hear the wisdom of your heart?

It can be easy sometimes to get caught up in believing someone is doing something purposefully to bother you.

To skip over the possibility they are doing whatever they are doing with good intention, not ill. Or that they are simply unaware of the impact of their actions on you and others.

When we are feeling stressed, overlooked or under-appreciated, we humans tend to see ill-intentions all around.

Giving grace, holding space for others to have good intentions or to be unaware is vital to our capacity to live life in peace and harmony.

If you are reading this today and feeling out of sorts or like the world just isn’t going the way it should, ask yourself:

Am I seeing dark clouds everywhere?

Am I looking for fault in what everyone else is doing, creating a story in my head where I am The Victim and they are wrong?

Be honest. Be humble. Be sincere with yourself.

And if there is any iota of a sense of connection with the questions above, ask yourself…

Is it true? Is the story I’m telling myself in my head about the other person their truth or mine in this moment?

Because, when we ask ourselves if our stories about others are true, inevitably the answer is, “I don’t know.”

We never know the stories of another. We never know what is true for them, unless we ask.

So, if you hear yourself telling yourself that someone is plotting to ruin your day, ask them for their truth. And listen to their answer with a soft heart.

We hold many things as true but when we soften our hearts, we discover light doesn’t bounce around with sharp edges like prism’s of sunlight refracting off  a crystal hanging in the window.

In a softened heart, light imbues everything with a warm and loving glow. It soaks in. Warm. Inviting. Welcoming. Healing.

We humans are not all that different. We are all struggling to make sense of this journey of life.

We have all felt heartbreak. Disappointment. Pain.

We have all at some point been confused by the actions of others. Blamed them for our misfortune. Held them accountable for our mis-steps.

We have all felt like ‘nobody understands’ or cares.

And we have all known what it feels like to be misunderstood. Blamed for things we never did. Shunned for things others thought we should do.

It is part of our shared human journey, this place where we jump first to conclusions about another. We tell stories about others and harden our hearts to keep us from standing lovingly in the truth of our own feelings, emotions, accountability, thoughts, creations, mistakes…

As you travel through your day, ask yourself often, “Is the story I’m telling myself about what they’re doing a reflection of them, or a reflection of the story I tell myself about my right to feel…. angry, hurt, confused…. [fill in the blank].

Soften your heart and listen deeply to what it has to say. You may be surprised to discover what your heart truly knows.



Practice Deep Listening | 52 Acts of Grace | Week 9

acts of grace week 9 copy

It doesn’t have to be a co-worker you take out for coffee. It could be a daughter or son, your cousin, neighbour, a friend, your spouse…

The question, “What are you passionate about?” is a direct line of communication to the heart. It speaks to purpose without asking “what is your purpose in life?” Which for some people can be a daunting question if they’ve never really stopped to think about their purpose in the world. Being asked the question,”What is your purpose in life?”, especially if we’ve never explored the question, can cause us to feel vulnerable, exposed. It leads us directly into our heads as we scramble to find the ‘right answer’. And, because we think there’s a right answer, it can ignite the fear we won’t get the answer right, or that we’ll be judged if our purpose isn’t clear, or ‘big’, or headline making.

But when we ask, “What are you passionate about?”, we are speaking heart-talk. We are saying, “I have a deep interest in knowing who you are and what you’re about.” In the open expanse of the question, people click into that space within where their heart beats freely and their mind knows what they’re talking about is not about getting the answer right, but rather about what calls to their heart.

People can be passionate about many things. Collecting stamps. Being a Big Brother or Big sister. Their family. Reading. Mountain Climbing. Volunteering at a hospice.

Asking them to share about their passion, and listening deeply, builds connection. It strengthens the bonds that unite us as human beings and as we listen deeply, gives the gift of being heard, seen, known and valued.


Ask a question and listen deeply.

You may be surprised by what happens next.

All I need to feel at peace exists within me.

It wasn’t as warm as the weather report said it would be, but once I dropped down off the escarpment, the wind died down and it felt less frigid.

Though, I hadn’t quite planned for how cold it was. I’d worn my gloves and not my mitts and my fingers felt the chill. I walked and tucked my hands into my jacket pocket. For a moment, my mind wanted me to believe that I was stupid to not wear my mittens. I told it to be quiet. It had nothing to do with my intelligence and everything to do with not wanting to be disturbed by less than thinking interrupting my walk.

It didn’t matter what I wore. The sun was shining, the birds tweeting and twittering all around. The day was glorious.

I dropped by Ellie, The Wonder Pooch’s memory place in the woods, took a picture of her two hearts nestled amidst the trees and snow and text them to my daughters, “She’s always with us,” I wrote.

And it’s true. Over six months since the wonder pooch’s passing, and still I feel her presence. I also still miss her quiet padding along beside me, tugging at the leash, stopping to sniff at every leaf and branch upon the trail.

Walking without her does have its advantages though. I can sit on a bench for as long as I like and not have her nudging me to get going, get moving along! Which means, I can sit and enjoy the silence, close my eyes and breathe into the soundscape all around, mapping the sounds as I learned to do from Sherri Phibbs of the W.I.S.H. Studio.

I listened deeply to the world around me. I listened to the birds, the chittering of a squirrel, the grass rustling in the soft breeze that meandered through the creek bed. I listened to the silence of the snow hanging at the edges of a tree branch as it let go with a soft whoof and fell to the ground. I listened to the way the fir tree needles grate against one another when the squirrel who was stealing all the bird seed skittered back across their branches. And in the distance, I listened to the muffled sound of city traffic carried across the miles by the wind.

And I listened to the stories the wind had to tell me of the faraway places it had roamed, the sites it had seen, the wonders it had witnessed.

I listened and felt the awe of the moment descend around me and envelop me in the possibility of a world where each of us is doing more today than we did yesterday to create a world of peace, love, hope and joy all around us.

In the quiet of the woods, I sat and listened to the wind and felt my spirit softly settle within me.

Yes. There is war and hatred and intolerance and abuse and homelessness and disease and cruelty and distrust. They all exist in this world.

And so does love.

It exists along with peace and harmony and people getting along and helping one another. Love exists in tolerance and kindness and giving and cures for diseases and loving compassion. It is there in gentleness and trust and treating each other with respect. It is there in one person helping another to get up, in caring for those who have nothing, those who are sick, those who are feeling blue.

Love exists in giving up a seat on the subway so a mother and child can sit.

It exists in letting a driver merge, in not cutting someone off, in smiling at a stranger, in holding a door open.

In all the intolerance and anger and hurt and pain in this world, love exists.

It’s just sometimes, amidst all the noise we forget to stop and sit quietly listening to our heart beat, listening to the trees rustle, the birds tweet, the wind whispering stories through the trees.

I listened to the stories the wind had to tell me and remembered that in this moment right now, all I need to feel at peace exists within me.

I am grateful.

The difference when I stop, look and listen

I am standing by the Navel Orange bin, focused on picking just the right ones when I feel someone watching me. I look up and see a man, walking towards me, his eyes focused intently on my face. I recognize him as he approaches. Smile and give him a wave.

“I know you,” he says, the rubber stopper on the bottom of his multi-coloured metallic cane making a soft thump as he plants himself in beside me. “Why do I know you?”

I know him from the homeless shelter where I used to work.

In a public place like a grocery store, it’s not always caring of the other to tell them that.

“I was the spokesperson for the DI (the street name for the shelter where I used to work),” I tell him. “I was on television a lot. Maybe you recognize my face from there?”

He gives his head a quick shake from side to side. Then nods it up and down. “Yeah. That’s why I remember you. You were one of the nice ones.” He pauses, lifts his cane and thumps it on the ground. Not loudly. Just a gentle statement of fact to punctuate his words. “I didn’t like it there. Who could? Full of drunks and drug addicts. And the staff…”

He looks away.

“Glad I’m out of there now.” He finishes his statement and looks me in the eyes. “I’m gone you know.”

“So am I,” I tell him. “How are you doing?”

And he rushes into a story about an accident that broke his hip. A two month hospital stay. A landlord who ripped him off and a host of other sad events that have brought him down.

And  I listen. It is all I do. Listen. Deeply.

It is what he needs. Someone to listen to him. To give him space to give voice to his pain, his fears, his sorrow. And, his possibilities.

“I worked construction you know,” he tells me. “That’s over with now. But I can cook. Got a friend who’s got a friend who owns a restaurant that’s just opening up. Gonna go submit my resume. You could come visit if you want.” And he gives me the approximate location of the restaurant. “I can’t remember the name. But I’m sure you can’t miss it. It’s the pub right beside the gas station.”

I tell him that I’ll definitely drop by sometime over the next few weeks. Check if he got the job. See how he’s doing.

“What I really need is better housing,” he says. “Someplace where I’m not sharing space with others. I talked to Calgary Housing but their wait list is too long.”

“Have you spoken to the Homeless Foundation?” I ask.

“What’s that?”

And I explain about their housing programs and find a piece of paper and write down their number and pass it to him.

He’s excited. Another path to explore. Another possibility opening up.

And we part and I am grateful for our encounter. He has reminded me of the importance of seeing people. Of honouring the human being through creating space for story-telling to happen, of listening to the stories that are shared with an open mind and loving heart and a belief in the sacredness of the truths that are revealed when we take time to see and listen to the story-tellers.

Thank you John. You made a difference yesterday by giving me the gift of listening on purpose.