To empathise, to sympathise, to know:
to feel the full measure of another’s grief;
to cry or not to cry, to let things go;
to hold back judgement, to suspend belief.
It is not for you to also suffer:
not for you to incur another’s loss;
It is yours to offer strength, to buffer;
to simply listen, not to argue the toss.
There is no position to be taken.
This is not the time for decisive facts.
Let sleep that which sleeps, do not awaken
the dogs of war; better so to relax;
. better so to listen, gentle of ear,
. it’s their voice, not yours, that will make things clear.
© Tim Grace, 5 October 2012
To the reader: The soft-counselling of a friend provides a safe place for disappointment and sadness to speak its voice. In the resolution of loss or grief there are moments when wise-words are best left unspoken. In these moments, the broken-hearted and the grief-stricken seek nothing more than reassurance. Their healing process begins with the confirmation of a companion that cares enough to listen. In time, the spoken response will be appropriate… save that for later.
To the poet: “Should they be blurred to favour tolerance?” Between writing and interpreting this line of thought, I think I’ve softened the tension between tolerance and suspended judgement. The need for restraint in criticism has been replaced with a more general statement on responsive listening. I’ve not really answered the question: “How much lee-way does intolerance deserve?”