Kindness

This poem was read in retreat last week. I think you will like it.

Kindness

by Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952

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.

The Present Moment

DSC02259“Come, not only to look at a map of the spiritual country, but to possess it and walk in it without fear of losing your way. Come, not to study the history of God’s divine action, but to be its object; not to learn what it has achieved throughout the centuries and still does, but simply to be the subject of its operation. There is no need to bother about what has been told to others; there are words for you alone.”

— Jean Pierre de Caussade (7 March 1675 – 8 December 1751)

de Caussade was a French Jesuit priest and writer known for his work Abandonment to Divine Providence (also translated as The Sacrament of the Present Moment). Caussade believed that the present moment is a sacrament from God and that self-abandonment to it and its needs is a holy state.