one long listening: a memoir of grief, friendship, and spiritual care (Paperback)

one long listening: a memoir of grief, friendship, and spiritual care By Chenxing Han Cover Image

one long listening: a memoir of grief, friendship, and spiritual care (Paperback)


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For readers of The Wild Edge of Sorrow and Crying in H-Mart--a profound and searching memoir of life, loss, grief, and renewal from one of American Buddhism’s most vital new voices.

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.
Chenxing Han is the author of the widely reviewed Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists (North Atlantic Books, 2021). She is a regular contributor to Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, Buddhadharma, and other publications, and a frequent speaker and workshop leader at schools, universities, and Buddhist communities across the nation. She has received fellowships from Hedgebrook, Hemera Foundation, the Lenz Foundation, and the Institute of Buddhist Studies. 

Chenxing holds a BA from Stanford University and an MA in Buddhist Studies from the Graduate Theological Union. Her chaplaincy training began in Cambodia and continued in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she completed a yearlong residency on an oncology ward. She is a coteacher of Listening to the Buddhists in Our Backyard at Phillips Academy Andover and a co-organizer of May We Gather: A National Buddhist Memorial for Asian American Ancestors.
Product Details ISBN: 9781623177850
ISBN-10: 1623177855
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Publication Date: April 11th, 2023
Pages: 304
Language: English
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

“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 offers honest and poignant stories about cultural displacement—a great challenge of our time—that will charm and unsettle you.”
—Norman Fischer, Zen priest, poet, and author of When You Greet Me I Bow

“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

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 Yorker staff writer and author of The Loneliest Americans

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

“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

“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

“Chenxing Han’s luminous spiritual practice of friendship, as the Buddha said, is not ‘half of the holy life—it is the whole of it.’ Her journey as a Buddhist chaplain is grounded, unmade, regrounded by an immense understanding of her relations with other humans and nonhumans as instances of companionship, transient yet eternal in its recurring resonance. Each meeting unfurls with tenderness, intimacy, generosity. This sustained climate of sacred concordance—with friends, strangers, patients, teachers, winds, birds, trees—is a flower nourished by, as Han writes, one long listening. In a world deprived of listening and overfilled with pain and grief, Han’s habit of listening is a habit of love.
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 by Nguyễn Thanh Hiện