I have spent the past five days on a mountain in New Mexico, being introduced to a dialogical way of being, in its simple complexity and its complex simplicity. As a group of 17 therapists, we are coming to the end of our last meditative trek before returning to our own workplaces, our own countries. We proceed in silence, following one another in single file. As we reach the valley we come to a silent grove of aspen trees and we pause as one …

Golden Grove 2.JPG

As the wind blows, progressively stronger and stronger, it gathers a swirl of golden leaves that float suspended for a short while in the air. Then, as the wind gradually drops, silence and stillness return, and downwards fall the leaves. At the end of the line of travellers, I turn, and my gaze is captured by an image of the leaves carpeting the ground with their softness just behind me.

I am transfixed. My senses heightened, I hear a birdsong that seems to be coming from the area on the inside edge of the grove. My senses are drawn towards this place to see or hear more. It seems that the wind is going to rise again and I ready myself to strive to hear through the expected sound. But I have misjudged. The wind that arises is only a whisper. And rather than carry the swirl of golden leaves, this time it carries the repeated birdsong from the same edge.

I feel a sense of calm, a pause, a profound stillness for a moment. And in that space comes a different birdsong, a response this time from outside the grove. I turn to reconnect with my fellow travellers but, unaware of them as I was, I realise that they have already moved on. It seems that this present moment was mine alone … And I am left to reflect on the image in a dialogical sense. There is the energy in the strong wind, as in the energy of the outer conversations; giving way to the subtlety of the wind’s whisper and the isolated bird call, as in the beginning dialogue; which in turn gives way to the silence and stillness, from which emerges the response ...

Judith M Brown, October 2010

So I exposed myself to the distance, open to all sensation and perception. And then, not from a distance but from the air round about me, noiselessly, came the answer. Really it did not come; it was there.
— Martin Buber