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Posts Tagged ‘compassion’

feeling it inside me
tender and tired
your heart

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I had thought I was already naked.
I had thought I had shed
the mask, the robe, the dress,
the flimsy garments that tease.
I thought I had nothing left
to remove. Then came
slipping out of my laugh.
Taking off my smile.
Dropping my role, my hope.
Losing what I thought I knew.
I could never have said yes to this.
It is happening anyway.
I am less myself, only more.
There is a shawl of compassion, though—
its threads made of sunrise gold.
This. Whoever does the undressing
wraps me now in this.

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for MS


She taught me it is enough to sit
with someone who is grieving—
to sit and listen with your whole body
as if eyes could hear as well as ears,
as if a person’s silence is as essential as her words.

She taught me it is a gift to say
the name of the one who is gone—
such powerful balm, that briefest
of songs, the name.

She taught me to light a candle
and to promise to not blow it out,
not even after the conversation is done.

She taught me the solace
of offering no wisdom, asking no questions.

She gave me the gift of myself. And met me there.  

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Wading into the ocean of grief,
I feel how the tides tug
at the story of how I arrived here—
the waves don’t tear my story away,
no, but float its fabric around me
till I wear it more loosely
and meet the raw self inside the story.
 
How many of us are here
in these waters learning
new ways to swim?
Already we’re deeper, deeper in.
Though it is a terrible gift to be here,
I fall in love with us all,
with our common humanity.
How sweet it is to meet each other
with our vulnerability glittering on our skin,
our bodies more buoyant
than we ever dreamed.
 

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meeting shame in a back alley

I decide to rename it

good teacher

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goldfinch stealing

into the thorn bush—

oh heart, bless you

for being willing, please

don’t follow him in

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that everyone, even the driver in the white jeep

who cut in front of you, yes, even

the elegant woman in the dairy aisle and

the man who seems lost on the library steps

and the child sitting alone on the bench, yes

everyone has a story—fears and hopes

and something to learn and someone they love

and someone who’s hurt them and someone

they long to hold. And though their stories

are mostly invisible, they’re always

more complex than whatever we project

and they’re every bit as real as our own.

The woman in the dairy aisle smiles at you,

and though she is wearing diamonds in her ears,

she looks lonely. Or is it you, who is lonely?

Is it all of us? All of us longing for someone

to truly see us. And that driver you’re cursing,

don’t we all sometimes feel as if we need

to move forward any way we can? And that

boy on the bench, notice the empty seat beside him?

Perhaps you could sit there, too, in the sun.

Who knows what might happen next?

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Across the country, blizzards—blizzards

so big that folks speak of bombogenesis

while standing in line in the coffee shop.

 

And the snow begins to fall, snow

blocks out the sun, snow fills the roads,

the drives, the sills until people begin to forget

 

who they are when there isn’t a storm.

Imagine the storm goes on.

Imagine that it isn’t snow falling,

 

but forgiveness. Imagine all those people

rising morning after morning to find

themselves buried in compassion.

 

Piles of it. Heaps of it. Giant white drifts of it.

It must be dealt with before anything else

can happen. Before people can even

 

walk out the door, they must lift it

and move it and feel its surprising weight.

Who knew there was so much of it? Who knew

 

just how completely it could shut things down

if not engaged with properly? It takes some time,

perhaps, before the people see

 

how beautiful it is, how every single thing

it touches is softened, turned to sparkle,

turned to shine. A disruption, to be sure,

 

but sometimes it takes a blizzard

to find the calm. Sometimes

we must be stopped

 

before we learn how to go on.

And the colder it gets, the more

we must work to be warm.

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You idiot, is what you say

to the driver five cars ahead of you

on the two-lane road that winds

through the river canyon.

There is no passing lane,

and you feel the crush

of the minutes as they rub against each other

while the white SUV five cars ahead

does not pull over

in the wide spot on the road

where all conscientious slow drivers know

to pull over to let the other drivers pass.

Idiot, you grumble, and miss

any beauty outside the window—

red rock cliffs and diamonding streams—

focused as you are on the speedometer,

the brake. Once it was you,

a girl of fifteen, who drove so cautiously

the windy roads to church

on a Sunday morning, that first day

with your driver’s permit.

And who was it in the long line

behind you who called the police

to report a drunk driver?

When the police pulled you over,

not one but two squad cars

with blaring red and blue lights,

you didn’t cry when the officers laughed—

there was warmth in their relief

to find that you were not drunk, but young.

No, you cried after they walked away,

cried all the way to mass.

Bless them, the irate ones,

the ones who fume in the back,

the ones who think furious thoughts.

That’s right. Bless yourself,

you, the livid one who even now

is hurling names at the other travelers

on the same paved path.

Settle in. Sixteen miles under the speed limit

will give you time to think about

how we’re all traveling

the same winding road

no matter which route we take—

all of us pilgrims journeying toward

a generous, elusive grace.

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Midsummer

 

 

 

I pour the hot water

into the sugar that waits

inside the mason jar.

 

Here I am in the kitchen

longing to be

of use in the world.

 

Outside the window,

the broad tailed hummingbirds

swarm the near-empty feeder.

 

They will find, I know,

some other sweetness

if I do not make the nectar.

 

I long to believe

one small act of devotion

might ripple out

 

and affect the world

as profoundly as an act

of hate, but I do not believe it.

 

Still, I stir. The contents

of the jar change

from solid to cloudy to clear.

 

Outside, the blur

of hunger, the whirring

of dark green wings.

 

 

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