11.15.2015

Kindness: Thanks for the Words of Naomi Shihab Nye

On days like today when there is hurt around the world it makes sense to be angry, feel helpless, feel deep sadness. I always feel like the best thing I can do on days like today is focus on the positive. This poem by Naomi Shihab Nye has gotten me through many difficult times in my life. I had the privilege of hearing her speak once, and she reminded me of the ways we can look at the world with goodness, hope, and love.

Kindness
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt weakened in a 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 your 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.
Naomi Shihab Nye

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