PZI Teacher Archives

Words, Not Swords – Listening to the Universe with Grace Martin


PZI member Grace Martin wanted to renew communication with her adult son. She drew inspiration from a talk by John Tarrant and landed on the perfect method: Grace reads to him (and us) from Daniel Pinkwater’s book, Wingman—one of her son’s childhood favorites.

This morning I needed to send some words of my own to someone very dear—my son.

I did not want my words to be swords. I did not want to draw forth swords in reply. I wanted to speak sincerely; I wanted to connect heart to heart. But hearts that have been wounded withdraw, don armor, become difficult to access. For years I have doubted that my heart even exists. Worse, much worse, I have feared that my son’s heart has been fatally wounded. By me.

What words? What words to use? And then my eye fell on a little book I’d read to my son when he was a child: Wingman, by Daniel Pinkwater. I remembered that we’d both loved the story, that something about it was magic, that that’s why I’d kept it all these years. I thought it might help me find my heart, and maybe the words I needed, waiting there. I think it might have. We’ll have to wait and see.

These words of John Tarrant held:

When we are blocked, when circumstances are not ripe, we have to find some way of acknowledging that, that we are pregnant and not merely asleep. Pausing like this is at the heart of meditation practice. When we attend closely to our lives, though it seems that nothing is happening, in the subterranean currents reconciliation is setting off, invisible until the moment of its arrival. This waiting is not an effort at working a problem through, nor is it getting out of the way—it is being in the way just a little, just enough to allow the universe to work the problem through.  —John Tarrant

I hadn’t realized what the book really was until I started reading it out loud. With apologies for my presumption, and my terrible pronunciation of Chinese names, I’m attaching what I heard myself reading, in case you might like to hear it too. There are lots of meditative spaces. If my attempt doesn’t work, just enjoy the view from the girders.


Grace Martin

The book Grace reads from: WINGMAN by Daniel Pinkwater
Summary: The only Chinese kid in his New York City school, Donald Chen finds solace reading comic books high up on a girder on the George Washington Bridge. One day while he’s up there reading, he meets Wingman, the most wonderful hero a boy could have. Wingman has a cape, gray feathers, and armor, but best of all, he’s Chinese.