The Language of the Heart 心灵的语言

The Language of the Heart 心灵的语言

Soapy Smith is a twenty-four-pound calico rex rabbit. A rex rabbit’s coat lacks the stiff guard hairs of other breeds, resulting in a fur texture that is as soft as a cloud. People look startled when they first touch him and remark how soft he is. I’ve noticed he seems to make everyone who meets him a little softer, too.

索比·史密斯是只24磅重的卷毛花兔。卷毛花兔没有其他种类兔子的那种有防护作用的硬毛,它的毛柔软得像一朵云彩。人们第—次触摸索比时,都对它这么柔软的皮毛震惊不已。我注意到,它似乎让每一个见了它的人也变得柔和起来。

One day, Soapy Smith and I visited a shelter for battered women located in a bedraggled section of the city. The women in the shelter looked at me through downcast eyes. No one smiled a greeting, and they appeared uninterested in Soapy’s carrier. Everyone seemed tense and ready to flee. One little girl in particular moved like a wisp in the background. Never raising her eyes, near reaching out, she drifted in and out of the gathered group. The staff informed me that she had been there for over a month and had not spoken the entire time. Nothing they tried had any effect. Her mother said she had talked at one time but not in recent memory. I didn’t want to imagine what could have happened to rob this little girl of the natural curiosity and enthusiasm so natural to childhood.

有一天,我和索比·史密斯前往位于城区破败不堪角落里的一个收容所,看望那里的受虐妇女。她们用沮丧的眼神看着我们。没有人微笑表示欢迎,也没有人对装着索比的箱子感兴趣。所有人都显得精神紧张,似乎准备随时逃离。尤其有个小女孩,在人群后像一阵风似的快速移动。她始终不抬眼睛,也不接近别人,只是飘飘忽忽地来到这群妇女中间,又飘飘忽忽地离去。这里的工作人员告诉我,这女孩已经来了一个多月了,这期间她一语未发。不论这些人怎么尝试,她就是不开口说话。她妈妈说,她曾经开口说过话,但那是很久以前的事了。我不愿想象究竟发生过什么,竟然剥夺了这个小女孩的好奇心和热情,而这本是儿童应有的天性。

Spreading a blanket on the floor, I sat down and opened Soapy’s carrier. As the silent child circled past me, I told the group that Soapy would come to talk to them if they sat on his blanket. Several children did this, including the silent girl. In a short time, Soapy emerged from his carrier and slowly hopped from one child to another. Unlike visits at schools where the first touches produced squeals of delight, this visit was unusually quiet. After touching Soapy, these children looked down and sighed softly or smiled into their hands. Soapy continued his rounds, and the children and their mothers gradually began to talk about Soapy and ask questions.

我在地上铺了块毯子,然后坐下来,把装索比的箱子打开。那个沉默的女孩在我们身旁绕过时,我告诉大家,如果她们坐在毯子上,索比就会与她们交谈。有几个孩子坐下了,包括那个沉默的女孩。索比很快就从箱子里出来了,慢慢地从一个孩子跳到另一个孩子。不像以往带索比去学校时,孩子们一摸它就高兴得尖叫,这回是异乎寻常的安静。这些孩子抚摩着索比,低头一看,轻声叹息或者双手捂住脸笑。索比继续绕着圈跳来跳去,孩子们与她们的妈妈逐渐开始谈论索比,而且还提出问题。

I chatted with the women and children as I kept one eye on the little girl. She sat rigidly at the edge of the blanket, legs held stiffly out straight in front of her. She was staring hard at Soapy. It appeared that he kept making eye contact with her. He would hop from child to child, each visit taking him closer to the girl. I began to wonder if he was pausing to give her time to watch him. During all other visits we had given together in schools, his usual behavior was to hop around the circle letting each person pet him. When he got back to me he would wash his face and then start the circle again.

我一边与那些妇女和孩子聊天,一边注意着那个小女孩。她僵直地坐在毯子的边缘,僵硬地伸出两条腿,聚精会神地盯着兔子。索比似乎一直在与她眼神交流。它在孩子们中间蹦时,每绕过一个孩子,它就越来越靠近那女孩。我开始纳闷,索比是不是为了给她时间让她注意它而停步。我们去学校与孩子们见面时,索比通常是绕着圈子蹦跳,让每个孩子抚摩它。回到我这边以后,它就会把脸洗干净,然后再继续绕圈。

That day, I watched as Soapy finally worked his way toward the girl. She didn’t reach out to him or encourage him in any way. Rather she sat tensely, just staring.

那天,我看到索比终于走向那女孩。她没有伸手,也没有任何鼓励索比的动作或表情,而只是紧张地坐着,凝视着对方。

Finally Soapy came to a stop about two inches from her thigh. He quietly reached out and laid his chin on her knee. I was astonished. While a common behavior for dogs, this is not a behavior exhibited by rabbits, especially not by this rabbit.

最后,索比在离她腿两英寸的地方停了下来。它悄悄地伸出脖子,把下巴搁在那女孩的膝盖上。我惊呆了。这对狗来讲是个平常的动作,可不是兔子的行为,尤其不是这只兔子该有的举动。

The child did not reach out to pet Soapy. Instead, she slowly leaned toward him. When her face was within inches of his, she carefully reached out and circled him with her arms. So softly that no one in the room could hear, she began to talk. Folded around the rabbit, she pillowed her head on his back and whispered to him. Soapy remained motionless.

那孩子没有伸手去摸索比,而是慢慢地朝索比俯下身。当她的脸离索比的脸只有不到几英寸时,她轻轻地伸出手,用双臂抱住了它。她开始说话了,声音轻柔得屋里没有人能听得见。她抱住兔子,把头枕在它的背上,与静静待着的索比窃窃耳语。

I looked up and noticed that the shelter workers had stopped talking. Every adult in the room froze in place. Time seemed suspended. Then quietly the child unfolded and sat back up. Soapy sat up too, reached forward and briskly licked her knee. She did not smile. She did not reach out to him, but the rigidity of her back relaxed, and her shoulders rounded into a comfortable slope. The little girl stood up and walked over to her mother and began to suck her thumb.

我抬起头一看,发现收容所的工作人员都停止了交谈。屋里的每个成年人都呆住了。时间好像停滞不前了。然后那女孩轻轻地收回双臂,又重新坐直了。索比也坐了起来,往前挪动,俯身舔她的膝盖。她没有笑,也没伸出手来,可她的背放松了,肩膀也有了看着舒适的斜度。她站了起来,走向她妈妈,开始吮吸自己的拇指。

The little girl reappeared when I was preparing to leave. She reached her hands out and looked me directly in the eye. I held Soapy out to her. She wrapped him in a big hug and pressed her face against him. Suspended from my hands as he was, I was concerned that he would begin to struggle. Instead he reached out his head again and laid it on the child’s shoulder. His breathing slowed and he closed his eyes. As quickly as it happened, the little girl released her hug and stepped back. As she turned away, I thought I saw the beginnings of a faint smile.

当我正准备离开时,这个小女孩又出现了。她伸出手来,直视着我的眼睛。我把索比递给她,她紧紧地抱着它,把脸紧贴在它的身上。它被别人举在手里,我担心它会开始挣扎。相反,它非但没有挣扎,而且还伸出它的头来,把头贴在女孩的肩膀上。索比的呼吸变得缓慢了,它闭上了眼睛。此时小女孩松开了手,往后退了几步。当她转身离开时,我想我看见她的脸上开始露出一丝浅浅的微笑。

The rabbit in his cloud of soft, warm fur had touched something deep in the child—something that had died from too much hard experience. Soapy’s innocence and trust appeared to kindle those very same qualities in the little girl.

这只兔子云朵一般柔软而温暖的皮毛,触动了孩子心灵深处的某些东西——因无数的痛苦经历而消失的感情。索比的天真和信赖似乎点燃了那小女孩同样的情感。

Numerous times, I’ve seen how the loving presence of an animal can heal where words have no effect. It seems the language of the heart is simple after all.

我无数次见证过,一只充满爱意的动物的出现是如何医治言语未能奏效的创伤。看来,心灵的语言是最简单的。