Listening in Tongues (4)


[Harvard Square Post, 2016]

“Words, words, words, I’m so sick of words,” wails Eliza Doolittle. Me, too, sometimes. For no matter how well-chosen or apt, sometimes words are merely background noise while whatever truth welling up within us finds language to make itself understood.

Saturday night, for example, was the “staged reading” of a play I’m working on, i.e. a performance solely dependent on the words the actors read aloud. No sets, no costumes, no bits o’ business, no lighting; no stagecraft! Just words. Lots of them. As four actors holding three-ring binders sat in front of my Quaker meeting’s meetinghouse.

At intermission —or “halftime” as my husband says—a member of the audience came up to me. “I think this is a play about how we know things,” he said. (You could almost hear the capital K as he pronounced “know”) “That’s something I’ve been thinking about, lately.”

And, yes, my play did offer several examples of just what he was talking about. But, clearly, he’d heard an echo of a question he’d brought through the meetinghouse door that night. A profound question—and alive for him right now. So he heard what he heard.

How do we listen in tongues? How do we hear beyond/beneath/(in spite of)  what we know? That’s the question alive for me right now.



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  1. I’m enjoying this series of thought. I also just heard Eliza Doolittle’s song yesterday. Words and underneath the words were in my discussion with my sister this morning. In some was the art of reading the tones and depth is an art form (for good or ill) but we thought this art can turn on you. Sometimes, it’s better to leave the underlying tone alone, hear the words only (as a text ), and give compassion to the rest. I am a high level priestess of tone reading. However, how I respond are novice sometimes. Just because I KNOW what’s behind the words, doesn’t mean “I Know”. A frustrated tone may be correct but frustrated with what, who, why, how?

  2. Dear Patricia,

    Hi, there, Patricia, my so, so very For always dearly special and precious soul sisterfriend who you’re For Always so, so very much!!!!! Wow, Patricia, wow!!!!! Yay yay yay yay!!!!! Wow, sisterfriend, my very prayers, hopes, and wishes have been very delightfully and eagerly answered with this fourth in a series on your very insightful, enlightening, and inspirational Listening in Tongues, Patricia!!!! Wow!!!!! Yay!!!!! I can only hope, wish, and pray for more of this series, my friend! I so hope there will be a fifth in this series next week, my sister!!!!! Wow!!!!! Yay!!!! The title of this blog post article as usual as always is perfect here! The picture which you have very graciously and generously featured with this very fine and excellent blog post article is picture perfect here and perfectly accents and complements the great theme and topic of this very sharp writing here, Patricia!!!! Wow, I love the Eliza Doolittle quote here remembering so from the time when I was a little girl and saw this fun-filled movie, sister!!!! Wow, Patricia, you make such a great point here in your agreement with the Eliza Doolittle quote. You are so right on here, Patricia! It is very true that despite how well-chosen or apt, sometimes words are superfluous in being mere background noise while whatever truth welling up within finds language to make itself be clearly understood. Wow, you as usual as always have and write with such astute and acute sagacity and beautifully clear and sharp, descriptive clarity, Patricia!!!!! Wow, the “staged reading’ of a play you’re working on sounds very interesting and fascinating, Patricia, and like this “staged reading’ would make it clearer to ascertain the nuances and the development of ideas in your upcoming play, sister of mine, Patricia! Sister, I have to percolate on this more, Patricia!!!! What great points you make here throughout this remarkable writing of yours here, sisterfriend of mine, Patricia!!!! Although I’m very perceptive and am able to intuit a lot from people and things(even more so if I can actually see the people right in front of me in person) I rely on words quite a bit. I know how carried away I become with my words, with my overflowing, and with my overabundance of words, adjectives, and adverbs, sister!!!!!!:)!!!!! I want so now to show my love and to speak from my very, very heart, and very, very heart and spirit, sister, and to not express myself so perfectly. I want to be different than when I was a lot younger when I was more defensive trying to prove that I’m black and I’m smart. I made excellent grades growing up in my then majority white suburb of Cleveland Heights, Ohio in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. I want to be myself in my writing and in general without the pretense , and with being myself, and more trusting without having to be so defensive like when I was a lot younger that I had to always be mindful of proving that I”m black and I’m smart, sisterfriend, Sister, I yearn so to try to write from my emotions and my very, very heart, and my very, very heart and spirit even if my sentence structure , word choices, and grammar aren’t absolutely perfect, friend of mine, Patricia! I so, so very much love YOU, dear, dear precious Patricia, and other awesome white persons as my sisters and brothers, and as children of our Good God, very, very especially YOU, sisterfriend, and other wondrously wonderful white women as the black woman, and as the lesbian black woman who I am!!!!! I long to reach out in a cross-racial manner which is my greatest love and greatest passion, and I don’t want to be like I had been when I was a lot younger being very on edge and defensive like I had to always be competitive and to prove at all costs how smart was as a black little girl, young black girl, teenaged black girl, and a young black woman. Now I want to speak and to write from my heart and spirit, and never mind writing with absolute perfection-I aim to show my love and complete trust and confidence in white persons, very, very especially YOU, friend of mine, Patricia, and other wondrously wonderful white women with how I so, so very much love and cherish YOU, Patricia, and other white women as you all are my very, very heart, and also my very, very heartsblood, and very, very lifesblood, and not try to prove that I’m not stupid in wrongfully assuming that I am being perceived as being stupid and that I need to prove my worth as a black person!!!!! Wow, I feel so much better, freer, and healthier in mind and spirit now that I am older, sister!!!!! I so, so very much love words, and the written word, sister!!!!! You have made such deeply profound points here which I need to think on more very closely in my very, very heart, and very, very heart, mind, soul, and spirit!!!!! Patricia, thank-you, thank-you, thank-you so, so very much, so, so very profusely, kindly, dearly, and deeply for this precious gift and blessing which this spectacular blog post article is for certain, along with your other very creative blog post articles and other magnificent writings!!!!!! Wow, I For Always feel even better and brighter, and have more cheer after reading your very endearing and engaging blog post articles and other fine and excellent writings, and responding very joyfully with my very heartfelt, detailed, and thorough thoughts, ideas, and comments!!!! YOU, Patricia, are my very,very joy and blessing, and so are all of your very cool and uplifting blog post articles and other great writings, just as I know YOU are, Patricia, and your stupendous blog post articles and other very salient writings for your other very, very many grateful and appreciative readers !!!!! Wow, Patricia, wow!!!!! Yay for YOU, Patricia, yay!!!!! Yay for our sisterhood and friendship, Patricia!!!!! Yay!!!!! Sister, YOU are just the very best and the greatest, and such the very, very epitome of such overall awesomeness, Patricia!!!!!! Yay yay yay yay!!!!!!

    Sister, please have such a totally terrific and a very thrilling Tuesday, a wondrously wonderful rest of your week and weekend ahead, and may all of your days be so, so very especially blessed!!!!! Spirit loves and cherishes you so, so very much, Patricia, and so do I!!!!!! Yay!!!!!!

    Very Warmly and Sincerely For Always, my so, so very dearly precious and dearly special soul sisterfriend Christian Quaker white woman who you’re For Always so, so very much, Patricia, with Such Very Love and Peace To You For Always, my sister, and with Such Very Blessings and Such Very More Blessings To You For Always, my friend,

    Yours For Always soul sisterfriend Christian black woman and For Always in the very spirit and solidarity, Sherry Gordon in Iowa City, Iowa

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