“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.”
— Naomi Shihab Nye
“Anyone who holds on to life just as it is, destroys that life.
But if you let it go, reckless in your love,
you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”
— John 12:25
“Failings are the foundation for growth.
Those who have fallen, failed or ‘gone down’
are the only ones who understand ‘up.’”
— Richard Rohr
In the most recent “On Being” podcast, Naomi Shihab Nye says “your life is a poem.”
She goes on to talk about how each of us can listen, journal about, and learn from our life story.
Her father was a Palestinian refuge journalist, her mother a U.S. citizen. She was raised in Palestine and Ferguson, Missouri. She has lived in San Antonio since she was a religion major at Trinity University many years ago.
We are soon approaching our “Pathway to Peace” Interfaith gathering to be hosted by FUMCFW on Sunday afternoon, August 28. Naomi’s interview is a powerful invitation to listen to the depths of your own unique story, and prepare to hear others from that deep, sacred space of compassion within the heart.
Her poem entitled “Kindness” has been a powerful compass for many people as they lose or let go of their shallow assumptions (we all have far too many to count.) But if we pay attention along the way through our own “second breath” spiritual practice, we will be surprised as we are opened up to the greater depths of Interfaith, spiritual community.
God, help us follow your pathway of kindness, compassion, and peace . . .
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
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