The Mystery of Paradox

I begin each month sending out an email to everyone who has been a part of one the Circles of Trust I facilitate.  I call it Living Courage.  It is a practice that calls me to the task of listening and keeping in alignment with WholeHeart’s tag line: “living on the learning edge.” Here is my reflection and experience with the Courage Principle: “An appreciation of paradox enriches our lives and helps us hold greater complexity.”  

When I was a teenager, I was drawn to Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA.  In the early/mid seventies it was a place of color and character.  In the summer of 1975, a young man handed me a greeting card. He didn’t want anything in return.  It was a gift he was sharing freely with those passing by.  On it was a pen and ink drawing and the words:


It was a paradox I didn’t understand – speaking without words. I’ve held onto that card for forty-two years.  Its wisdom has slowly revealed itself to me.  

Love is expressed in many ways. It is not limited to “I love you” romance.  It has become my practice to live love, rather than wait for it to find me.  My morning mantra is: May I be lit, May I be light, May I be love.

This month I have been living this paradox.  I began October at a poetry workshop at Kirkridge in Pennsylvania: Bread for the Journey.  I anticipated learning more about writing poetry, but instead learned about living life with attentive presence - as poetry invites. 

Rather than listening and writing down snippets of phrases and images to be crafted into poems, I am listening to and acting upon the whispers that come to me at odd hours of the day and night.  “Gift this person a book, reach out here or there, send a package of old treasures to your childhood friend, drive your parents to say goodbye to their dear friends in Maine...” 

My whispers can be quite clear, but they are a different voice than my to-do’s that also track me down.  There is a different quality to living in this way -  following currents rather than plans.  This is my way of "speaking I love you in ten thousand ways."  Paradoxes are riddles that I need to hold and consider from many directions - sometimes for decades. They contain gifts that unwrap slowly. 

I wonder about our actions and interactions and the unknown ripples they make.  I offer these questions as you live the paradoxes of life:  

·      How might you speak "I love you" without using the words today? 

·      What is calling your attention & attentiveness beyond your to-do list?

Holly Wilkinson is Executive Director of WholeHeart, and a listener to the whispers and small gestures that shape lives, organizations and our communities.