How Pausing Is Kindness
By Prasanta Verma
i will tell you now
how pausing is kindness.
pausing is the white space,
white space around words.
pausing is the margins on a page,
a space created around words.
pausing is the comma. it is catching one’s breath at the end of a sentence.
it is stopping or slowing down.
pausing is the space in between words–spoken or written–
that is rife with meaning.
pauses and silences
can speak louder than words.
i hear what you don’t say
when you are silent.
pausing is the space created around oneself, around a person’s busyness, activities, life…
a space created in the midst of a day, to slow down, stop, reflect.
pausing is the noticing; taking note.
pausing is noticing details in the world, like the waft of a breeze, a change in the direction of the wind,
or the soft whiz and fling of a bird’s wing,
or the 4:15 am chirping of birds, the trumpet heralds of a new day.
pausing is noticing the first green buds emerging in spring
and knowing when the yellow irises will bloom again
pausing is noticing the peonies survived the blight of last year’s mold,
the ones that were cut down and thrown away,
and it was unclear if it’d work or not but now it’s visible–
it worked and they survived.
pausing is stopping, slowing down, from many things.
pausing is looking. listening. thinking. wondering. pondering.
pausing is a whisper, a soft moment,
unobtrusive and quiet.
pausing means noticing people–
(or it should be)–
and the fragile, vulnerable space occupied by souls.
i don’t know what to do with all the complicated
challenging, difficult circumstances,
mistakes, pains, aches, confusion, and questions…
it is beyond me to know and to answer
so many things; i have no choice but to pause.
i pause and consider the lilies
and their worth.
i stop and consider not a single sparrow
falls without notice,
and i pause to know that the number of hairs on my head
is not too much of an obscure fact to be known.
pausing is noticing, looking, listening;
(it’s the opposite of running and speeding up).
pausing is counter-cultural, even counter-intuitive.
we think we have the answers and are ready to run with them.
pausing is weeping with those who weep,
laughing with those who laugh,
mourning with those who mourn,
singing with those who sing.
pausing means taking a breath.
pausing is love.
pausing is humility.
pausing is kindness.
Prasanta Verma is a writer, poet, occasional artist, and aspiring author. She is passionate about making the way for diverse voices and understanding culture in the context of faith. She was born under an Asian sun, raised in the Appalachian foothills in the Southern US, and currently digs out of snow piles in the Upper Midwest. She coaches team policy debate to high school students and has three children. This poem first appeared on her website, and is reprinted here with permission.