I wanted to share a poem about silence and peace. Not only ’tis the season, but we’re all in need of more of both. In this beautiful (regardless of your season or hemisphere) scene one can feel the solace of deep peace. In searching for words I come back to an old metaphorical friend, the late poet and great humanist, John O”Donohue. For those of you not familiar with this gifted soul, I believe you are in for a wonderful discovery. For those who know and love John’s work, as I do, revisiting his words are always a comfort.
John’s work still resonates with many of us today. His sudden death in 2008 left us wanting more of his beautiful words and lyrical voice. John understood the power of silence to ease the mind, soothe the heart and restore the body. It’s especially true at this time of the year as we transition into another. But I believe it is even more important after a year that shook the personal and collective foundations of many lives. For many of us it is a time for deep reflection. As John so eloquently wrote, “The tide you never valued has gone out. And you are marooned on unsure ground.”
We’ve come to realize, perhaps more deeply than in years gone, that we’re all on unsure ground. Uncertainty is a place we must learn to live in – with more ease and much more grace. These days can be rich with peace and rest as we ease our grip on outcomes, “the desire that drove you has relinquished,” and just allow, “There is nothing else to do now but rest and patiently learn to receive the self.”
May the last days of the old year be gentle, filled with peace, rest and whatever enlivens you.
A Blessing for One Who is Exhausted
When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,
The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.
Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.
The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.
You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.
At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.
You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.
Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.
Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.
Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.
Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.
Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.
(from John’s last book, To Bless the Space Between Us)
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Louise Altman, Partner, Intentional Communication Consultants
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