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CYC-Online 76 MAY 2005
ListenListen to this


Listen to the silence

I don’t remember when I first met Henry Maier, or even how I came to know about his work. Ultimately it doesn’t matter of course. What matters is that he was a part of our field: an integral part. In recent years many of us had taken to calling him “a grandfather” in our field. People did this, I think, not just because he was aging but because, like a biological forefather, his work served as a stimulus for other work in the field. In many areas he cleared the land, built the foundation, planted the seeds, and opened the doors, so that the following generations of Child and Youth Care Workers might have a secure place from which to develop.

On April 30th of this year, in Seattle, Washington, Henry died.

* * *

A few years ago, Henry was giving a talk and during an open question period, someone asked him what he thought about agency policies that forbid the accepting of gifts from clients. “If I reject what you offer me, don’t I reject a part of you?” Henry responded.

Ah, and he gave so much himself, to this field and the people who work in it.

* * *

One day Henry was at a meeting with a number of other “leaders” in the field. As they looked around the table (reflecting on their own contributions, I suspect), one of them wondered out loud, “I worry for the field. Where are the future leaders? Who will lead the field in the future?”

After a lot of head-nodding and mutterings of approval for this questioning, Henry spoke up. “I suspect they are working today,” he said. “I’m not worried. They will come when they are needed.”

* * *

Henry was conducting a training one day and, as often happens, there arose one of those moments when silence fell over the group. Why, doesn’t matter. As people fidgeted, Henry urged them to relax. As they showed signs of wanting to speak up, he encourage them to be silent. After a moment he urged us all to “listen to the silence”.

“There is never nothing there,” he said. Even the silence has something important to say.

* * *

I could say more, but Henry was always critical of too many words. Best to just accept what he offered and listen to the silence. Don’t rush to fill the space. They will come when they are needed.


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