one long listening
a memoir of grief, friendship, and spiritual care
by Chenxing Han
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Pub Date 11 Apr 2023 | Archive Date 01 Apr 2023
How do we grieve our losses? How can we care for our spirits? one long listening offers enduring companionship to all who ask these searing, timeless questions.
Immigrant daughter, novice chaplain, bereaved friend: author Chenxing Han (Be the Refuge) takes us on a pilgrimage through the wilds of grief and laughter, pain and impermanence, reconnecting us to both the heartache and inexplicable brightness of being human.
Eddying around three autumns of Han’s life, one long listening journeys from a mountaintop monastery in Taiwan to West Coast oncology wards, from oceanside Ireland to riverfront Phnom Penh. Through letters to a dying friend, bedside chaplaincy visits, and memories of a migratory childhood, Han's startling, searching memoir cuts a singular portrait of a spiritual caregiver in training.
Just as we touch the depths, bracing for resolution, Han’s swift, multilingual prose sweeps us back to unknowingness: 不知最親切. Not knowing is most intimate. Chinese mothers, hillside graves. A dreamed olive tree, a lost Siberian crane. The music of scripts and silence. These shards--bright, broken, giddy, aching--are mirrors to our own lives in joy and sorrow.
A testament to enduring connection by a fresh and urgent new literary voice, one long listening asks fearlessly into the stories we inhabit, the hopes we relinquish, and what it means simply to be, to and for the ones we love.
A Note From the Publisher
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“one long listening is a beautifully written, thoughtful, and thoroughly honest journey through loneliness, grief, and fulfillment. It is a book that resonates deeply, both emotionally and on a literary level, as a sentence-by-sentence pleasure whose distinctive structure distills each chapter down to a powerful essence.”
—Jay Caspian Kang, New York Times Magazine staff writer and author of The Loneliest Americans
"Han’s writing, like her presence, is a radiant stream of wakeful, loving life. She plays with multiple layers of language, translation, legibility and karmic force as she listens to the poetry, calamity, comedy, and mystery of life unfolding. The dreamlike vignettes of her own and others’ moments of despair and delight, sickness and stability, flow like a vast river, with no beginning, no end, now terribly agitated, now exquisitely calm. Reader: Exhale deeply, empty yourself to listen to Han listening. Watch how bodily and psychic pains could turn into smiles in this magic river of long, long listening.”
—Quyên Nguyễn-Hoàng, translator of Chronicles of a Village
“Written with the delicate ellipsis of Chinese poetry and a novelist’s eye for telling detail, Chenxing Han’s one long listening is an engaging collage of unforgettable vignettes that meander through her years of hospital chaplaincy, Buddhist studies, world travel, and the heartbreaking loss of her young best friend. Born in Shanghai, raised in America, Han’s honest and poignant stories about cultural displacement—a great challenge of our time—will charm and unsettle you.”
—Norman Fischer, Zen priest, poet, and author of When You Greet Me I Bow
“one long listening is a lyric wonder, a joyful wandering, an ode to unknowing, a love letter to a friend, a still pool of grief, a fuzzy sock, a dancing crane. That a memoir can be all of these things and more is a testament to its author’s boundless curiosity. Chenxing Han beautifully channels Simone Weil’s definition of prayer as ‘absolutely unmixed attention.’ She embraces misspellings, mishearings, and misunderstandings as pathways toward connection, while offering a fresh counterpoint to misrepresentations of hospital chaplaincy and American Buddhism. We need more books like this: a tender and patient act of care.”
—Simon Han, author of Nights When Nothing Happened
“one long listening is Chenxing Han’s journey through East and West, life and death, resiliency and vulnerability. It is written like Thomas Merton’s classic, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, but from the perspective of engagement. In one long listening, Chaplain Han actually shares what she heard: amplify the compassion, remember to try and taste the many flavors of this world, and refresh our stories. This book will inspire you to listen very deeply.”
—Pamela Ayo Yetunde, ThD, chaplain, pastoral counselor, and author of Casting Indra’s Net
“In a world living in a sea of grief, this expression from our dear sister in spirit is a blessed gift for the heart and mind of all. Please benefit from this beautiful healing balm.”
—Dr. Peggy Rowe Ward and Dr. Larry Ward, coauthors of Love’s Garden
“Reading one long listening is like walking through a rainbow of light and tears: luminous, transparent, mysterious, and moving, Chenxing Han's exquisite memoir is an immersive exploration of the grit and grief of life interwoven with the boundless glories of the spirit.”
—Catherine Chung, author of The Tenth Muse
“Chenxing Han is a deft guide through the interstices of the heart. Honesty conditions the ever-shifting ground. Insight fuels the flowing movement. Intimacy colors the undulating landscape. Joining her journey into a sublime realm at the core of our humanity, wayseekers are invited to feast on the marrow of life.”
—Paula Arai, PhD, author of Painting Enlightenment
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Editors at Storey Publishing