"Take a walk at night. Walk so silently that the bottoms of your feet become ears."
— Pauline Oliveros, "Meditation #5," Sonic Explorations (1974)
This month, in seeking to flesh out our monthly congregational theme of Deep Listening, I love Pauline Oliveros' expansion of what it might mean to "listen" deeply, drawing an unexpected part of the body—the bottoms of feet—into the service of experience intake. There are so many ways that we engage in listening, more broadly defined: whenever we focus our attention with intention there is nearly always something new to be known.
We'll be hearing more about Oliveros from our Music Director Louise Chernosky as part of this week's Worship Service (the link to be delivered on Saturday night), but I am drawn to Oliveros' Deep Listening aesthetic, and her insistence on the two-way street of listening: she stressed that, for deep listening to occur, first, our own inner experience needs to be heard by us and made manifest; then, we can be prepared to tune in to our surroundings and to the communications, direct and indirect, of others. In other words, there is personal authenticity at the heart of deep listening, and engaging in it can be both healing and sustaining.
Are you able to bring your authenticity into the life of this congregation? Can you welcome the authenticities of others and learn from them? It could be that this is an inevitably scary, and perhaps risky, proposition. Dare we engage in the kind of deep listening Oliveros longed for and spent her career trying to elicit in herself, others, and the natural world that surrounded her? And how do the contours of the pandemic inhibit or shape the ways we listen?
We would love more deeply to listen for the authenticity that is uniquely yours. Next week, a number of us will gather virtually to discuss how we might be in better connection with one another. Do you have ideas? We would love to hear from you.
Rev. Craig :)