Saturday, February 04, 2006

Speaking of poetry...

This morning I began reading a tiny book of prose poetry called The Prophet which was written in the early twentieth century by Kahlil Gibran. In it, Gibran shares the thoughts, the wonderings, and the advice of The Prophet, a fictional character with real-world wisdom. Here are a few treasures I have already unearthed.

On children:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which you children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and he bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

[How often have I tried to bend my children to do my will? To think my thoughts, to see life the way that I see it? How often do I want to keep their hearts and souls safe within my hands when The Archer, the One who has all eternity in His hands, clearly has a plan for their lives that is different than the plan He has for mine? I pray to be open to the bending of the Archer so that these two magnificent arrows we have been entrusted with will reach the target for which they were created.]

On Joy and Sorrow:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftetimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

[I have heard so many stories about friendships lost, marriages abandoned, business partnerships dissolved, neighbors at odds, parents battling with their children, and deep disappointment with church members and leaders lately. In each case, the words of The Prophet ring true. Those relationships that have brought us greatest joy, heartiest laughter, and deepest satisfaction, when they are lost or damaged are the same relationships that sear our souls. Who loves more deeply than a parent loves a child? Yet no wounds hurt more deeply than those inflicted from child to parent and vice versa. No one knows a husband better than his wife, or a wife better than her husband; yet it is the intimate knowledge between lovers that forms the most excruciatingly accurate weapons when battles ensue. It is in the hospital of the soul, the church, where we must put into practice the lessons of forgiveness and reconciliation. If we cannot do so within the walls of our sacred assemblies, then what is the use of our faith or our gospel? How can I be a genuine follower and lover of the God I cannot see if I cannot love and forgive the people I can see? If only we were each brave enough to lay down the weapons of war, vulnerable enough to put up the white flag of surrender, and humble enough to say and do whatever it takes to rediscover the traits, charms, and delights that once brought us joy. "What a wonderful world this would be!"]

On Friendship:
And when he {your friend} is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain...
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

On Talking:
When you meet your friend on the roadside or in the marketplace, let the spirit in you move your lips and direct your tongue.
Let the voice within your voice speak to the ear of his ear;
For his soul will keep the truth of your heart as the taste of the wine is remembered
When the color is forgotten and the vessel is no more.

[There is little that compares to the joy of real friendship. The laughter, the sharing of pleasures, the telling of tales of the journey, the revelation of simple pleasures and profound insights. I have a friend in Spain who reminds me each time he drops me off at the airport and I am awash in tears, that in every good-bye there is a small death. Saying good-bye to him, to Karen when she left after her surprise birthday visit, to Kim after her long weekend with us in Madrid, to Jill after her recent delivery of secret recipe pickles and pepper jelly, to all the well-wishers when we left Connecticut three years ago, even the far less dramatic farewells when saying good-bye to Moneesha or Katie after lunch together, after talking to someone on the telephone, after waxing poetic or prolific through email - they are all times of mourning for me. Who knows when the last email will indeed be the last one? Who knows when the last telephone call or blog or visit will be the last? I never regret telling my loved ones how I feel; I always regret not telling them.

Gratefully, long after the final words are spoken, after the last hug is released, after the pressure of the hand print fades from the shoulder, even then, the color of friendship never fades, the value of friendship never decreases, and the spirit of friendship never dies.]

I haven't yet finished The Prophet. The Prophet is not yet finished with me; I'm not sure it ever will be.

I'm off to hug my daughter (who lost yet another basketball game today!) and tell her that I love her. When Daniel gets home from basketball practice, I'll hug him and tell him the same thing. Steve will have to wait until the children are in bed and sound asleep to get his special hug...

Who are you gonna call, hug, or write to?

1 comment:

Goddess of Leonie said...

i've just picked up this book too...

amazing stuff, hey?