I would love to hear the sounds roots make as they are growing…reaching into soil, curling around rock, piercing into leaf and loam. Surely it makes a sound, however infinitesimal, this growing, this slow foraging for nourishment and sustenance. Is there a moan or howl as the slimy slender roots move deeper and spread farther?

I would also love to hear a flower bud and blossom. Surely this too gives off something to be heard if we put a microphone to it. Perhaps there’s a crackle or pop as the first petals burst forth. Maybe a rustle and a flutter as they all unfurl and jockey for their final position of glory.

In the aftermath of surgery, I always find myself in a quandary. I imagine this is true following any upheaval or loss in one’s life. You’ve worked through the initial parts of healing and recovery only to find yourself scratching your head and wondering…

What has happened?

How did I get here?

What does it mean moving forward?

It’s a space for listening. A filtered listening, a deeper listening. I’m not interested in the typical stuff I might tell myself–“OK Jen, let’s get on with the show.” or “Everything’s gonna work out,” “Leave it in the past”, or the ever popular “Let it go, Let it go!”


I’m wanting to hear what’s true about all I’ve been through, it’s purpose and meaning and what it means for the future. I’m wanting to “tink” back the already knitted up fabric to see just how it all went down (or came together) and in so doing, see if I can make sense of what it was and where’s it’s going. I’m not convinced this is even possible…it may be a fool’s errand.

My mom assures me that growth is happening. I listen intently to this woman’s voice on the other end of the line. She who has endured the loss of both her parents to horrendous events. She who has endured metasticized melanoma, ovarian and breast cancers, and who, as I’m listening, is experiencing the pain of shingles.

What she tells me is that I cannot see the growing now. Though underground, teeming life is afoot, and has been, in and through the illness and each of the three surgeries. I just can’t see it now, she says. I may see snippets of it in the future, I may not. We rarely ever see roots doing what they were meant to do. I might see a blossom or two in the coming years. But I can know and trust that growth is happening…

…right now.

So I’m (s)training my ears to hear it.

I listen as I draw. I listen as I knit. I listen when I walk.

How do you listen?

**Note: “tink” is a knitting term meaning to unknit each stitch, one at a time, to get back to a certain point in the knitted fabric.


4 thoughts on “Listening

  1. freebirdsings says:

    This I understand more. I can never see the good coming out of the bad experience and always wonder when people say all the comments you list above. If God is so good, why am I hurting so much is more my common thought. My sister despairs of my lack of trust in God’s mercy although I can’t say it’s really a lack of trust. I just have the view that He set things in motion and wants US to fix and heal and create with it and that means some of us hurt more, suffer more and so on because we don’t do a good job of it. She believes he has a purpose for every pain and trial if we but find it. But the comfort is that we will find out some day when we leave this life for the next.

    I read an article several years ago that said trees DO talk to each other. They send out messages in the form of chemicals through the roots from one tree to another and that there might even be a mother tree in a forest that starts the messages such as “this bug is eating us; put up your chemical defense” and so on. I wish I could find it for you. It was very interesting.

    Your poor mother. Shingles on top of all she’s been through? And people think it isn’t important to get Chickenpox vaccinations! I hope it doesn’t last long for her and she feels better soon. Maybe you two should plan a weekend together when you are both healed to celebrate!

  2. Thomasina Tittlemouse says:

    I discovered your blog today via the link in Tangled Happy’s post to your mixed media cowl (which I love by the way – you make the pattern sound such an inviting adventure) and I have spent the last while reading and exploring with much delight. Thank you! On the topic of this post, did you know that if you enter the dark sheds in Yorkshire where they grow forced rhubarb you can actually hear the rhubarb growing, pushing up in search of light with an urgency and determination that is audible? I’d love to hear that live one day. Rhubarb sheds are traditionally only lit by candles in order to avoid introducing any other source of light that would cause the rhubarb to lose its tender pink colour. I think listening in the light of a candle to the stalks growing in the dark might be quite life-changing actually. Putting one in touch somehow with the growing that so often happens unseen and unheard but which is nonetheless going on. I often think that in fact it’s often in the “fallow” periods of life that great creative forces are born and which emerge subsequently. I find that exciting and makes the fallow periods somehow easier to accommodate. Wishing you a space to hear and enjoy your own growing. It’s assuredly there. Now I’m off to find a white bowl to fill with assorted yarn and play with possible mixed media cowl combinations! Just right for a bleak English winter afternoon! Elizabeth x

    • jenpedwards says:

      Oh Elizabeth…I cannot tell you how much your words mean to me! This is simply beautiful to know. My husband’s family have been longtime rhubarb lovers having lived in the upper Midwest portions where growing it in the ground is much more amiable due to the colder climate than we have here in the South. I just read this account to my husband and it is just wonderful! We often dream of traveling to England and would surely want to experience the rhubarb sheds you speak of. I would love to do a follow up post quoting a portion of this that you have written and I would give full credit to you and a link to your blog! I am headed over that way right now. But thank you so much for taking the time to share this with me!! Truly, thank you. And I know you will love crocheting these cowls. You will have one to warm your neck in no time! Sincerely, Jennifer

      • Thomasina Tittlemouse says:

        Dear Jen I’m glad you liked the notion of the audibly growing rhubarb. I’ve found a little audio clip where you can hear it. It’s a bit strange! Counterintuitive actually as one tends to think of growth as a gentle incremental thing and the sound is much more sporadic and gives an impression of bursts of activity interspersed with pauses; a kind of speeded-up version of “fallow” periods of life interspersed with more active ones. Have a listen here , if you feel so inclined! It’s been magnified quite a bit and as I say it does sound a bit strange but there’s something very alive about it. I am looking forward to reading more of your posts in the future – whatever they’re about – what and how you write resonate with me very much. Sending you a hug across the pond. E x

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