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Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

Perennial




Sometimes even a small sweetness—
a kind word, a kind act—

is robust enough to take root,
and though its perfume soon fades

and its petals wither,
the roots persist so years later

when you least expect it,
there in a forgotten field,

or perhaps in your own well-tended yard,
you catch the scent of sweetness

and follow it until you find again
the fragrant bloom of it, not at all

diminished by time. No, maybe sweeter
because it was forgotten.

Sweeter because with roots like that,
you now trust it will come back again.

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Somewhere I’ve never been
reaches across the ocean
and wrenches my thoughts.
I don’t try to push it away.
I let the ache in,
let sorrow do its terrible
work. It slices in
deeper than I want it to,
but I do not resist.
All day I think of the small child
being pulled from the rubble.
All day I think of the many hands
reaching for small frightened body.
All day, I am softened by
grief, ravaged into tenderness.

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Small Things

Small things aren’t just important,

says my father. They’re everything.

And I think of how,

night after night, he’d lie

on his back on the floor

and bench press me

as I stood with one foot

in each of his hands.

Years later, every morning

he’d lift me with a phone call—

This is the Broadmoor. This is your

morning wake up call.

He’d say it in his snootiest,

haughtiest British butler voice.

And years later,

when we hold hands

he rubs his thumb across my thumb,

a small, familiar gesture of love.

Now, wishing I could hold

his hand while we sit

in different rooms together

a thousand miles away,

I can almost feel

the pad of his thumb

move across my knuckles

the way wind moves over water

and creates the weather.

It lifts me.

It’s everything.

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Kindness went out and got itself

a new engine—a twin turbo premium

unleaded V-6 cylinder engine.

Something with real oomph.

Something that provides a bit of giddy-up

when the going gets tough. Turns out

kindness likes horsepower.

A lot of horsepower. Plus it sprung

for direct fuel injection to maximize

its power output. Everyone thinks

kindness prefers things quiet and calm,

but kindness is ready for action—

ready to take on the world,

ready to travel every back road,

every highway, every main street

and get this ever-loving show on the road.

There’s a whole lot of work to do.

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And if today we speak at all,

let us speak in golden leaf.

Let’s converse in low clear stream,

whisper in rose-hip pink.

And if we speak at all today,

let’s slip mulch between each word,

aware that what we say will grow—

how powerful the words we sow.

And if we speak at all,

let’s speak in mountain, speak in field,

speak only words that lift and heal,

speak only words that lift and heal.

And if we speak,

let’s listen for the quiet in between—

plant tulips bulbs in the silences.

And crocuses. And grace.

And any words with thorns in them,

let’s set them down. Let’s lose them.

And if our words don’t open like sky,

let’s let the sky do all the talking.

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It smacks me, sometimes,

how connected we are—

though we draw boundaries,

build walls, fight wars,

call names, and kill. All it takes

is a photo of earth from space

and I’m stunned again,

how much we are in this together.

And though we’d rather not know it,

every choice we make

affects everyone, everything else.

Perhaps this is why I weep

when the woman I’ve barely met

embroiders me a sweater

with a word she knows I’ll love

and then brings it to my home.  

Because it’s proof of kindness,

a confirmation that beauty

not only exists, it will lead us to each other.

How easily two strangers

might become friends.

It can happen anywhere

on this small blue and green planet—

anywhere two people co-exist,

the invitation to be generous,

thoughtful, to think of new ways

to be good to each other.

Each kindness a bridge that spans

the world’s flaws. Each moment,

another chance to build another bridge.

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for J Unterberg

In the picture on the news,

the little black girl holds a sign

that says, I’m your next president.

And in the grocery store,

the clerk smiles at me from behind her mask

and compliments my dress.

Consumed as I’ve been

with a sorrow so great

it swallowed our country whole,

I had thought it would take an energy

equally great and opposite

to pull me away from the bleak edge.

But then a stranger walked up to my car

where I was parked on the side of the road

to make sure I was okay. And just like that

I felt myself backing away from the edge,

just a bit, just a bit.

It can be so small, what reminds us

who we are—a people who want

to thrive, to live in peace,

a people who are kind to each other

not because we have earned it, but

because kindness is in our nature.

I want to vote for that little girl,

want to help create the just world she rises in.

I want to help someone else

back away from the edge,

just a bit, just a bit, another bit.

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Shabbat

for Peter and Lisa

 

 

We covered our eyes with our hands

and repeated the sacred words that Peter said,

blessing the pomegranate juice, blessing

 

the challah bread. And when we were done

with the prayer, we removed our hands

from our eyes and the candlelit world

 

was surprisingly bright. Such a simple faith,

kindness. The willingness to invite another in,

to make them bread, to offer them soup,

 

to say to the other, Here. Feast. Rest. To share

ancient stories and offer new wisdom.

To pass the braided bread, hand to hand,

 

and eat it together. To listen to each other

until the candles had burned through all their wax.

To continue to listen after the light goes out.

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Someone has crocheted a half dozen blankets—

one dark purple, another camo green, another

with stripes in every possible color.

There are half a dozen quilts with bright squares.

And someone has knit a dozen hats—

and a basket on the shelf overflows with handmade scarves.

 

My friend chooses a pink cotton pillow

that someone has sewn in the shape of a heart

and a long creamy scarf, impossibly soft.

She would rather be anywhere but here,

but look at that smile as she dons the scarf,

as if its stitches are keeping her from falling away.

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If you could use some good news, find your way to DOOGOOD Stories, an international site hosted in Finland, sharing stories of random acts of kindness around the world and their ripple effects.

If you scroll around, you’ll find where I talk about one of my mentors, Art Goodtimes, and how a simple and personal interaction 25 years ago changed everything about how I meet the world, and how that random act of kindness is one of the seeds that made this site and the daily poems happen.

Check it out!

 

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