Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Grief: Kindness

For some reason, maybe Artie's birthday on Dec. 11th, maybe the holidays, I have not been ready to write.  I'm still not.  Once again I have allowed myself to be carried away on the dark black tide.  I have forgotten to spend a small time focused on what is difficult and a large time focused on wonder and joy.  I am working my way back and who knows?  Maybe tomorrow I will write all the blog posts that haven't made it from my brain on to the page.  The screen?  Is a screen a page? 

Until then I am giving you Naomi Shihab Nye's poem Kindness which sums things up in a lot of ways.  It is kindness we reach for - but we must see it when it happens and we must open our hands and our hearts to give it return.  I hope, dear Naomi, you will forgive what might be a copyright breach as you would know I am posting this to bring comfort.  I met Naomi when - as a Jewish woman - I was having trouble understanding the Palestinians.  Whenever I give in to prejudice I have Naomi's loving, laughing face in front of me and the prejudice disappears.  She taught me about kindness, and I am grateful.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye

I wish you all kindness - to yourself - first - then from others to you - and from yourself to others.  I have not been kind to my mind and body and soul lately.  I have let myself live in the desert when the oasis is only step away.  Here's to taking that step to the oasis. Thank you to all of you who love me in all my many incarnations.   xo


1 comment:

  1. Dear Jan,

    My comment ended up under the Thanksgiving blog, so I repeat it under the right post.

    Thank you for this post--honest, heartfelt, true, and with my favorite poem. My husband Vic who died in 2008 ended his last book with this poem, and it is included in the book I'm writing in a scene where I read the poem as Vic was undergoing a medical procedure with a grumpy doctor. The poem turned the feelings in the room to love and compassion.

    I will read more of your articles and you might be interested in my blogs and bereavement writing about love, loss, and life on my own.

    With appreciation for you and your willingness to share your journey through grief,