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Posts Tagged ‘compassion’




Her smile was clear sky, was green grass,
was slender stream of waterfall.
Her smile said, You are welcome here.
Her smile said, You are not alone.

She waved to me as I climbed the hill
to sit by the grave of my son and she offered
to water the flowers I’d brought from the garden.
Her offer was pink snapdragon, was orange marigold,
was golden calendula. Her offer said,
There are some things we can do.
Her offer said, I see you.

Thank you, I said. Thank you
 for taking care of this place.
I looked around at the trim lawn,
the lovely, well-cared for space
where we bring our dead.
She shrugged and smiled and said,
We love Finn, and backed away,
her right hand pressed to her heart,
her eyes embracing mine.

There are moments so flooded with tenderness
every wall around our heart collapses
from the beauty of it,
and we are left wet and trembling, like newborns.
There are moments when we are so naked
love enters us completely, shakes us from within
and wrecks us, and there,
in the rubble of our defenses
we fall so deeply in love with life,
with the goodness of people,
we are remade.

When I left, she blew me a kiss.
I caught it. Twelve hours later,
I still cradle that kiss in my hand.

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One Small Act


after watching hundreds killed in the thriller
I find a spider in my bathroom—
so gently I deliver it outside

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Sometimes when I catch myself
judging someone else—
a stranger or perhaps a beloved—

I imagine my son and father watching me,
not looking down from above,
I imagine them looking out from inside me.

I don’t worry I am disappointing them—
I feel certain they would be generous with me.
See how human she is, they might say,

loving me despite my humanness,
because my humanness.
In that moment of imagining,

I feel myself soften,
feel my heart unfurl like a new leaf in spring,
feel how possible it is to be generous

with the humanness of myself and others
and the relief it brings.
In that moment, it is easy to be alive.

Easy to notice my annoyance
and be gentle with the self who gets annoyed.
Easy to touch my palm to my heart

and know it as the palm of my son,
the palm of my father,
reminding me how truly I want to walk it,

this path of compassion.

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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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