Posts Tagged ‘sorrow’

for Naomi

Into this time capsule
of our conversation
I add a shovel and two trees,
a candle (of course),
a black and white button,
a closing door,
an inner knocking,
a cat box, tears,
wise words from a monk,
what isn’t here,
a dissolving dream,
long ribbon of laughter,
a letter that survived
four years of weather,
books we’ll never read,
the great hole inside,
sorrow that will be with us
until we die, and …
and whoever finds this capsule
couldn’t possibly guess
how this strange collection
nourished two friends.
It just looks like a shovel
and some other strange things—
but for an hour,
oh friend, we had wings.

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Sometimes I notice a sorrow in the soul
like a star that appears to hang in the sky
held in its course by immense gravity.
Like a star, the sorrow is always here,
it’s just I don’t always see it.
Is it strange, I love these clear nights
when the sorrow reveals itself.
And though I can’t name it, can’t track it,
can’t visit it, can’t touch it,
I know the sorrow the way I know any star—
by being still and offering it my attention.
Tears fall so quietly, so innocently.
They help me know it is here, this precious sorrow,
sorrow born of radiance, sorrow born of love.

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Any chemistry student
can tell you: a substance
that undergoes transformation
must first be torn apart.
I have been torn apart.
I have felt the breaking,
the rearranging,
and now the rebuilding
of my bonds. I marvel
at the brand new molecules—
how they transform
from despair to openness.

Though I look the same
and sound the same,
there is no mistaking
I am forever changed—
but not by sorrow, no.
Sorrow is the catalyst
that speeds it all up.
But it is love absorbed
that is breaking the bonds,
and love that evolves
as new bonds are made.

Some days I feel it,
I am less what I was and more
whatever it is that drives
the autumn, the spring.
Every day the chance
for love to find its way in.
And each time love helps me
to meet the unmeetable,
the reactant of self
becomes offering.  

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Sorrow is how we learn to love.

—Rita Mae Brown, Riding Shotgun



If sorrow is how we learn to love,

then let us learn.

Already enough sorrow’s been sown

for whole continents to erupt

into astonishing tenderness.

Let us learn. Let compassion grow rampant,

like sunflowers along the highway.

Let each act of kindness replant itself

into acres and acres of widespread devotion.

Let us choose love as if our lives depend on it.

The sorrow is great. Let us learn to love greater—

riotous love, expansive love,

love so rooted, so common

we almost forget

the world could look any other way.


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And when sorrow arrives for tea

and stains the table cloth

with its great mass of gray,

and when sorrow arrives

and drives everyone else away,

do not leave, alarmed though you are

by its slumping weight.

Offer your attentiveness.

See how it almost radiates?

There are myths in which monsters

transform into princes.

It always takes courage. And kisses.

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I used to loathe them,
the dandelions, the cheat grass,
the tamarisk, the whatever
wasn’t what I had planted.
I’d declare war in the field
and spend hours hunched over
removing the dark green rosettes
and ripping up handfuls of grass.
And likewise, I despised
sorrow, wanted to yank it
like a tap-rooted weed.
Wanted a garden without it.
It is not that I would encourage
sorrow now. Would not sow it,
nor plant a whole bed of it.
But nor would I yank it out.
It is not against me.
Perhaps the garden got bigger,
so much bigger that there
was more room for everything,
though I was not the one
who made it increase.
Perhaps it is that I can see
how much richer the soil is
with sorrow tilled in, too,
how now everything blooms
more beautifully, even all
those golds and purples
I would never have dreamed
of planting myself.

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