As I sat down to read my book this evening my eyes caught the spine of another book sitting on my shelf.  Succulent Wild Woman by SARK, I picked it up at the thrift store and haven't gotten around to reading it yet.  I'm always doing that-collecting stories for later like a squirrel preparing for winter.  Upon seeing it I was reminded of her inspiration line-a hotline you can call that has a recorded message on it.  I found it after my mom died and use to call in frequently when I was feeling lost.  But it's been years since I dialed the number.

I found myself being pulled to dig it out and listen in.

Of course it was exactly what I needed to hear.  Especially this poem she read...

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 every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Maybe it will be what you need to hear too.


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