Memorial Day – To Acknowledge and Listen


I’ve been thinking, on this cool grey morning with a hint of rose along the horizon, what I might have to say this Memorial Day.  I thought of how much it means when we listen to one another, even when we cannot understand.  Listening is a huge gift.

Then the word “acknowledge” came to mind.  I was interested to read its definition in the dictionary, so I did a Google search.  The first definition on the screen said, “Accept or admit the existence or truth of.”

That is huge.

Once a dear person I know who served in Vietnam called me, after years of silence, to share a little about his experience.  He had read my poetry about the chronic illness and grief I had experienced, and he felt I would understand.  I am still so honored.  For me, this is what poetry is mostly about: healing.  I also love the beauty of language.

I think sometimes we are afraid of saying something “wrong” when really the person who is hurting is so helped by a simple acknowledgment.  A kind word.  Otherwise, the person in pain feels even more isolated.  Also, if we have failed in the past, we can simply say, “I’m sorry.”  We are all human.  I think people know when our hearts are in the right place.

One thing I loved about my mother was (is) her sense of humor.   Now that I am 59, sometimes I have experiences with someone younger who knows so much more than me.  I love this, and this is as it should be.  One day, after an experience in a store, I thought of myself with my mother sometimes, when I was young, and I started laughing as I walked to the back door.  No one was around and I said, “Oh, Mother, I’m sorry!”  I’ve been to family funerals where there was so much laughter with the tears – everyone telling their stories.

It’s a great Mystery, but conversations continue . . . as we acknowledge and listen.

Love and blessings,



The “fruit blossoms” are courtesy of

22 thoughts on “Memorial Day – To Acknowledge and Listen

  1. Listening truly is a gift, both to receive and to give. You triggered a memory for me: when I worked at the local library, I met a Vietnam vet. He was a big dark mountain of a man, and I sensed there was much inside him that probably hadn’t come out. I asked if he’d be interested in sharing some of his memories from the war experience. He thought about it for a week (he was in the library on Friday nights), then said he could only do it by making a cassette tape for me, not an in-person chat. I was so honored to listen to his story–and eventually mailed it back to him, with a note of thanks for his service–and for sharing. God bless you Ellen–love, Caddo


  2. Beautiful reminder, Ellen. When we listen to each other–really listen–wonderful and healing things happen. May you receive the blessings you’ve lavished on us with your writing. Marylin


  3. We tend to forget that compassion and sympathy are slightly different. To show com-passion is to feel with, to suffer with. It’s not only an emotion, but a commitment. You expressed the importance of it perfectly.


      1. I have gone back to college, and had stopped reading all but 2 of the blogs that I follow. Now that the craziness of May is subsiding I am catching up and your words and poems are breathing life into me!! I shared a link to you on twitter and on my Facebook page. You really have the gift Ellen!


  4. I so agree with what you have written here … just listening … it seems so simple, but as it is often all that is needed, it seems such a hard-to-come-by treasure these days. Lovely, lovely reflection, Ellen . XO


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