Two Poems to Ponder and a Quote to Question.
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 gaze at 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 everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
– ©Naomi Shihab Nye. Words Under the Words: Selected Poems. 1995
The Patience of Ordinary Things
It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?
– Pat Schneider (Another River: New and Selected Poems (Amherst Writers and Artists Press, 2005).
“He asks of us only one thing: to move our gaze from seeing to beholding the world. He would call that Silver-Branch perception. And there the trouble begins. Because that beholding can instigate disintegration. The money-lenders flee the temple. We begin to understand the sacredness of defeat. There’s a world far bigger than our temporary ambitions. Rilke tells us it’s what we secretly long for, that defeat … that our hubris aches to kneel at immensity’s door.”
– Martin Shaw (A Hut at the Edge of the Village)
Ask yourself the following question: “What do you understand by the “sacredness of defeat”?
Christianity is a slow-opening flower for me. All at once and it would wipe me out. Too much reality. I have to chew on one breadcrumb at a time. There are announcements of the heart so prestigious I am floored, and then lots that feels nutty and restrictive. Then a year later that in turn feels like absolute wisdom. I’m learning not to make too many pronouncements too early. One simply doesn’t know till you’ve tried, and tried for a while at that.
– Martin Shaw (28 May 2023)