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Posts Tagged ‘service’

I Want a Lot

You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.

     —Rainer Maria Rilke, “You See, I Want a Lot,” trans. Robert Bly

Rilke, you were right.

I want so much to be useful.

Today I stared at the brown cardboard box

on the counter and marveled

at how a box knows exactly what it’s here to do—

it holds what needs to be held,

it keeps things together,

it helps things move where they need to go.

It is a fort for a child or a bed for a cat

or a makeshift sled in winter.

I hazard to say the box never worries

if it is enough. It simply folds up

when its task is done and waits to be of use again.

Or not. Oh, this longing to do more, to be more,

to serve more, because in every direction,

the need is so great. Oh, this fear

that no matter how much I do, it is never enough.

A man is not a crowbar, a hoe.

A woman is not a box,

but oh for a moment to be able

to keep things together.

I know it’s not how it works,

but oh, for a moment,

to hold all that needs to be held.

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Any light I carry

is nothing I

have manufactured.

It’s entirely unearned.

It is easiest to notice

in the dark.

It cannot be faked.

Perhaps I wished

I could control it.

Instead, I marvel,

ask it, how

can I serve?

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Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.
—The Wizard of Oz

Give me a heart that breaks,
a heart that longs to open
wider and wider, always revealing

more space. Give me hands
that long to serve. Make them strong
enough to build what must be built.

Make them fall in love with letting go.
Make them unable to hurt. Give me a mind
that leans toward generosity. A tongue

that speaks in only we. Feet that run
toward those in need. Eyes
that see beneath the masks. Ears

that hear the silence
that is the staff for every sound. A nose
that follows the fragrance of truth.

Blood the same red as everyone else’s.
And give me a heart that breaks again
and again, the way ocean waves

break, unpredictable, an endless
breaking, an endless release,
in which nothing is ever really lost.

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