Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Whisperer

I have been thinking about the in-between stage when you are crossing a threshold. It is a potent and painful and transformative time. A time, I believe, when we need to use the whole of ourselves. When we must harness our power, get quiet. Sit in the pain and the mystery, and if we are lucky, lean into the practices we have learned to cultivate.

The image which strikes me is from the film The Horse Whisperer. The scene when Pilgrim, the traumatized horse hears Annie’s (Kristin Scott Thomas) cell phone ring and then bolts out of the water he is being trained and calmed in, and runs as fast and as far away as he can. Tom, (Robert Redford) goes after him but from a very far distance, sits and waits. And waits and waits. He waits for him all day. Until he gains the slightest semblance of the horse’s trust. He sits and waits in the deepest stillness and quiet.  Waiting and watching and showing him that he is simply there. Asking for nothing. But simply offering his devotion.  

For me, this scene is one of the most stunning and exquisite acts of love.  

I am here. I am right here. I see you. I know you hurt. And I am listening. Waiting.  Waiting until you are ready. Waiting without judgment. Waiting with love. Waiting until you are ready to trust me. For as long as it takes.

This is the only way it can work in relationship. The person who needs the least amount of intimacy, no matter the reason, sets the tone. 

I have been the horse. And I have also been the whisperer.

To be the whisperer means to show up without ego. To show up with an intention to see the other as whole and capable. To let go of the stories of the past and see the other as bigger than the stories which have been hoisted upon them. This is what it means to love.

I experienced this with a three year old boy. A child whom I loved deeply. A child who found it challenging to trust the world. As a result, he had a very difficult time attaching himself to anyone. By the time the boy was four, he would cling to my leg and cry when I was about to leave and say goodbye. Because I saw him. I saw past his story and began to heal something without asking anything of him.  

Maybe what happened was I loved him the way I always wanted to be loved and I promised (without saying so) that I would wait until he was ready to approach.  

Imagine what it would feel like to have someone wait for you in love precisely the way you wish. Imagine what it would feel like to have a person sit and hold you in love without judgment. Hold you. And surrender to your approach.  


That boy (now an adult) was my nephew.

None of this was of his choosing and for a brief time, I became the horse, but also had to become the whisperer again. This time, a whisperer for my own healing and for his, so that there would be no more clinging for either of us and so that he could keep bursting out of his hard shell.

It is all in the approach.

Some horses are destined to become whisperers.


Jill Bacharach