Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’




Self-forgiveness is not the first impulse.

In fact, I curse. Run my hands through my hair,


tug at my scalp. Sigh. Again. My shoulders fall slack

in the place where my wings would be.


In my gut, the seed of apology starts to root.

Perhaps that is what changes things,


what allows me to let failure look me in the face,

let it trace my cheeks, the barest caress.


It never asks me to be beautiful. It never

expects nor wants perfection. It touches me so tenderly,


is it any wonder that soon the apology

spills from my lips like the clearest stream,


and I stand in the cold clear rush of it.

The whole world looks different from here.

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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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on my shoulder

small drip of last night’s snow—

all my frozen places take note

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Again this morning

the invitation to be soft,

to notice how when we wake,

the cage of thorns that sprang up

yesterday is not now here.


It takes only just one thought of blame

or righteousness, and the thorns

return in all their ferocity

and brandish their barbs,

and flaunt their hooks,


but there is this moment

when we can simply notice

how soft we are, how vulnerable,

and choose to stay that way,

and a moment later, choose again,


oh, the morning, it smells like freedom.



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I’m not saying we shouldn’t be angry.

Anger seems reasonable. But perhaps

we will do what I’ve heard the Inuit do—

spend the emotion on walking, walk a line

until all the anger has left our bodies.

The moment the Inuit notice the anger is gone,

replaced, perhaps, by sadness or fear,

compassion or just a quietness,

they mark that spot with an object

to show the extent of their anger.

And perhaps, if we’re lucky, when we walk

this way, it will be a long enough walk

that we arrive at each other’s doors,

object in hand, and when the object

leaves our grip, we’ll be able to use our hands

to greet each other, touch each other’s faces,

point to the horizon to all the other places

we might choose to walk now together.

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After the frost,

the sweet peas

rise from the dirt

like little green angels

with bowed heads

and tiny green wings—


it’s enough to make

a woman believe

small miracles can happen

if only she plants

the seed.

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unforecast, this thawing of the heart, a puddle now where yesterday I slipped

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One Warm Discovery




that fence I built

around my heart

makes real good kindling

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Two Realizings


with gratitude to Rachel Kellum



holding out the olive branch,

surprised to see the end’s

been set on fire—

oh foolish woman who hesitates

to drop it before she is burned




olive tree,

may you grow many branches,

may I prune you often

but not to the point of risking the roots—

for now, here is water, time

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The baby black swift is born behind a waterfall.
It never leaves its nest until one autumn day
it leaves the damp familiar and starts to fly.

Though it has never flown before, it will not land
until it reaches Brazil, thousands of miles away.

There is, perhaps, a wing inside forgiveness.
Just because it has never flown before,
just because it’s never seen beyond the watery veil
does not mean that it won’t instantly learn
what it can do.

Like the baby black swift, it has no idea
what it’s flying toward. It only knows
that it must fly and not stop until it is time to stop.

It sounds so miraculous, so nearly impossible.

It is not a matter of courage. It is simply
what rises up to be done, the urge to follow
some inaudible call that says now, now.

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