Our Own Thoughts

All the painful and horrendous things I was imagining were not present, and I realized suddenly and completely that it was my thoughts — and only my thoughts — that were tormenting me. If I stopped my thoughts, the pain stopped. And so it had. For about nine seconds. Then it all came flooding back, although from that moment on I understood one very, very important thing, perhaps the most important of all: learning to work with the pain of a broken heart was about learning to work with thoughts, not about changing any kind of reality. Because in reality, right this second now, nothing is happening.

— Susan Piver, The Wisdom of a Broken Heart, p. 25

Being Human

“Human being” is more a verb than a noun. Each of us is unfinished, a work in progress. Perhaps it would be most accurate to add the word “yet” to all our assessments of ourselves and each other. Jon has not learned compassion. . . yet. I have not developed courage. . . yet. It changes everything. I have seen the “yet” become real even at the very edge of life. If life is process, all judgments are provisional. We can’t judge something until it is finished. No one has won or lost until the race is over.

“Broken” may be only a stage in a process. A bud is not a broken rose. Only lifeless things are broken. Perhaps the unique process which is a human being is never over. Even at death.

— Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, Kitchen Table Wisdom, p. 223


Listening is the oldest and perhaps the most powerful tool of healing. It is often through the quality of our listening and not the wisdom of our words that we are able to effect the most profound changes in the people around us. When we listen, we offer with our attention an opportunity for wholeness. Our listening creates sanctuary for the homeless parts within the other person. That which has been denied, unloved, devalued by themselves and by others.

In this culture the soul and the heart too often go homeless.

Listening creates a holy silence. When you listen generously to people, they can hear truth in themselves, often for the first time. And in the silence of listening, you can know yourself in everyone. Eventually you may be able to hear, in everyone and beyond everyone, the unseen singing softly to itself and to you.

— Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, Kitchen Table Wisdom, p. 219-220