Trust is a reflex

Trust is a reflex

when eyes can’t see

when a presence passes over

and mouths open

anticipating sustenance.

Trust is a reflex

when others draw near

when in their shadow

minds open

to positive intentions.

Trust is a reflex 

perhaps, more than a choice

that the proximity of others

portends benevolence

not harm.

Trust is a reflex

a silent cry of the heart

believing that somehow

someone is near enough 

to hear.

23 thoughts on “Trust is a reflex

  1. We so often hear that trust is earned, but you’ve demonstrated that it really is a reflex, learned from positive interactions. It reminds me of a student I once had; his home life had been unstable and unpredictable, and so trust at school had to be learned. I can remember holding him in a restraint (we were well trained in how to do so safely), and just telling him, “You’re safe. You’re safe. We’re not going to hurt you.” After two years, school was his safe place, and walks to cool down replaced restraints. Trust became his reflex.

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    • Trust as a response to positive interactions, yes – and early in life, simply expecting interactions to BE positive. Something your student had lost as a result of suffering. I read your words with an ache in my heart: “You’re safe; you’re safe.” Learning to trust again, after such desperation for it – I am just awed. Chris, by this story. Deeply grateful to know it – thank you.

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  2. Trust is a reflex…I never thought of it that way, but your poem proves the truth of it. It is a “silent cry of the heart,” and your accompanying photo illustrates the theme of your writing. I love it.

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    • I knew the baby bird’s mouth was open as a response to my presence, expecting food without even knowing what I am or if I meant harm or good. These babies did not yet have any voices and it did look so like a silent cry that I began to think of our silent human cries, needs, heartaches. Yes – as children, we instinctively trust. It’s planted in us. And then it changes.

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  3. Like Margaret I’ve also never thought of trust being a reflex. And your poem bears out the many ways it can be. I was drawn to your post because I’ve been thinking about institutional trust and how we come to place trust in organizations. Your poem makes me want to spend a little more time thinking about origins of trust.

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    • Those baby birds sparked the idea. Not yet being able to see, they assume my shadow over them means food. The little mouth opens … I started thinking about what makes us trust/not trust, for, as children, trust is so natural and inherent. Now you have me thinking about institutional trust – a topic very worthy of exploring. Thank you for your response!


  4. Tears came to my eyes when I read your lines “Trust is … / a silent cry of the heart / believing that somehow / someone is near enough / to hear.” I thought, when there is no one to trust, no one to hear, even that silent cry of the heart is silenced. It reminded me of two of my grandsons, two boys my oldest son and his wife adopted from an orphanage in Bulgaria six years ago. They had been so horribly neglected–one was 3 yrs old the size of a 9 month old and the other was 6 yrs old the size of a 2T. Neither had core strength–could not sit by themselves, could not walk or crawl. Neither boy cried for any reason. It was like all crying had long ago been silenced. After lots of love and care, during their first year with us, they both learned to cry. It was such a happy sound to our ears. The oldest can walk awkwardly now. The youngest can if you hold his hands.

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    • Oh, Alice – this heartrending story of the children suffering so. Not even able to cry. To think of hearing their cries as a welcome sound, a sign of their healing and safety. They now trust that someone hears and responds. I could not have imagined such a piercing response. What a story on the power of love – and trust. Thank you for sharing it with me. A corner of my heart now belongs to you all, for continued strength and healing each day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Fran. I do want to write about them but need to know it is okay with my son and daughter-in-law. We pray for miracles and watch them happen.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Lisa. The baby birds inspired it – they are so new; do they even have a notion of danger yet? My approaching shadow caused that open mouth. Got me thinking, too!


  5. This is beautiful! I love that line: Trust is a reflex. I have felt that way sometimes — when people tell me to be careful with who I trust… I realize that for me, trust is sometimes a reflex! Loved this poetry slice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. 🙂 The idea came to me when I went to photograph these baby birds and one assumed my presence meant food. Got me thinking about trust as a reflexive response – in humans, too.


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