By the Touch of a Listening Heart

I was battered and scarred and the people I knew
Thought it scarcely worth their while
To waste much time to listen to me
But they gave advice with a smile:
"Keep it hidden, my dear," they said.
"You'll see it's best in the end."
"A smile for another." And, "Work, work, work."
"Everyone has pain, don't you see?
"Yours hollers out, but please keep it nice."
"Better day soon!" ---But wait!
From the gloom and lack, through graying mist,
Came forward a listening heart.
Then, wiping away the old cliches,
And tightening her lips on advice,
She heard the melody pure and sweet,
And she danced to make it real.

The listening increased, and listening hearts,
With voices quiet and low,
Said, "Thank you for sharing and being real."
And their eyes toward each other glowed.
One brought her dog and we roamed the fields.
Two made a group, and then I found three.
Three women, then some men, and more,
A church, a club, a spree.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
"We do not quite understand.
"What makes this work?" Swift came the reply:
"The touch of a listening heart."

And many there are with life out of tune
And nowhere to sound the strings.
They wander deep in the toughtless crowd
Or give up to mindless things.
Too many are hurting. All talk at once.
"You should know better." "See, I'm strong."
"I'm in charge here." "Do as I say."
And, "Why can't we all just get along?"
But some will take turns, and the foolish crowd
Never will quite understand
The worth of a person and the change that's wrought
By the touch of a listening heart.

Apologies to Myra Brooks Welch, author of the poem, "The Touch of the Master's Hand."