Of Note: Through the Unknown and Unknowable
one long listening: a memoir of grief, friendship, and spiritual care by Chenxing Han
North Atlantic Books, April 19, 2023
In one long listening: a memoir of grief, friendship, and spiritual care, Chenxing Han grapples with what it means to practice chaplaincy, especially as she mourns the passing of her closest friend. At one point, Han asserts, “Not-knowing is most intimate.” At another, she shares, “This not-knowing is terrifying.” Han’s memoir holds both truths, inviting readers to listen to the tension between them, and to experience how, at times, they intertwine. This memoir gifts its readers opportunities to practice listening from a position – to printed language one cannot translate, for the patient refusing care, alongside incomprehensible loss, and in moments of joy. Listening becomes a series of ethical choices, made again and again, to tune in as one’s self to each moment, each person, and especially amidst pervasive uncertainty. Han comes to understand that “learning to accompany others through the unknown and unknowable” is core to a chaplain’s practice. The same holds true for an educator's practice. How might we listen when we do not know – or when we believe we do? How do we listen each other through? One long listening is full of complexity, possibility, and care – an ethical listening that may accompany us through rupture towards repair.