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
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
and the simple breath that
kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest
you must know sorrow as the other
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.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Kindness - could it be a minimalist value?
Here's poet Naomi Shihab Nye's thoughts on kindness - a favorite poem of mine, and one I'd like to give you to think about before you leave for the summer: