Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Who We Can Be

by Naomi Shihab Nye

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 everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.


You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the face of him who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves.

~ St. Seraphim of Sarov


I came across the second quote some weeks ago. I hesitated to post it because I fall so short. And the the poem appeared on Cynthia's blog this morning. I decided to go with them both. To read and savor and remember them both. Falling short is merely human.


Diane said...

thank you for sharing. I'm on the go again now, but I'll be back to read more carefully later.

Mrs. M said...

Thank you, these were both beautiful things to share.

cheesehead said...

Lovely. Thank you.

RevDrKate said...

What beautiful readings to start the day. "We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves," and because we live in terror of the losing that makes us kind.

Jan said...

Thank you. I am going to copy both to save on my computer. How we fall short, but still as Thomas Kelly writes we are "being transfigured and transformed." Thank you, Lord! You, not I!

You change your pictures every so often, and they are all lovely!