Monday, June 30, 2008

The Gift of Goodbye

Often when one even thinks about the idea of fasting, apprehension descends like autumn nightfall. Many of us have spent so much time cultivating an intimate or oppositional relationship with food, that the idea of letting go, even for a day, is too terrifying to contemplate.

Below is a poem that I first heard while on a seven-day silent meditation retreat. It spoke to those contracted places inside of myself where I hold on, often for dear life, to things, attitudes and positions that I know are no longer serving me. Hearing this poem gave me courage and wings.


It is a good word, rolling off the tongue
no matter what language you were born with,
Use it. Learn where it begins,
the small alphabet of departure,
how long it takes to think of it,
then say, then be heard.

Marry it. More than any golden ring,
it shines, it shines.
Wear it on every finger
till your hands dance,
touching everything easily,
letting everything, easily, go.

Strap it to your back like wings.
Or a kite-tail. The stream of air behind a jet.
If you are known for anything,
let it be the way you rise out of sight
when your work is finished.

Think of things that linger: leaves,
cartons and napkins, the damp smell of mold.

Think of things that disappear.

Think of what you love best,
what brings tears into your eyes.

Something that said adios to you
before you knew what it meant
or how long it was for.

Explain little, the word explains itself.
Later perhaps. Lessons following lessons,
like silence following sound.

~Naomi Shihab Nye
from Words Under the Words

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