Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Poetry Thursday- Kindness

Someone told me recently that I was the kindest person they had ever met, and frankly, I was surprised. I don't consciously think about what it means to be "kind." I try to treat others as I would wish to be treated, but I think that true kindness is much more selfless than I could ever pretend to be, and demands a willingness to sacrifice and a depth of experience that I have never faced. This poem by Naomi Shihab Nye expresses what I feel kindness demands. I can only hope to have true kindess "go everywhere with me, like a shadow or a friend."


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 beside 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 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 it 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

3 Comments:

Blogger paris parfait said...

Beautiful and haunting; a reminder of how often people make sacrifices for others.

6/01/2006  
Blogger jim said...

Yes! Kindness is much more than just about being polite.

6/01/2006  
Blogger susanlavonne said...

I never thought about kindness in this manner...to realize what it means to be the recipient makes you more conscious of its effect. It is an act of humility in that sense and not just an act of good manners.
Great poem with startling insight..thank you Becca :-)

6/01/2006  

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