Kindness

Kindness

Naomi Shihab Nye

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.
View the whole poem here
To me, this is one of the most comforting and profound poems I know.  It captures the essence of how to live in this world.

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.  Kindness and sorrow – two sides of the same coin; both are necessary.  Nye is saying you must see how your sorrow is but one thread in the cloth of all sorrows; how vast this cloth is of which you are a part.

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, Kindness is in the simple basics of everyday life – tying your shoes, mailing letters, buying bread – it does not get more ordinary than that. It truly is the only thing that makes sense.

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. When you become aware of this simple truth, you realize that this is what you have been seeking. Then kindness goes with you everywhere, as close to you as your shadow. You realize it is your true friend.

Notice your shadow next time you are out walking in the November sunshine. Can you see in it the reminder that kindness is your friend and bring it with you, sharing it in the world?

5 thoughts on “Kindness

  1. I meet this poet one day and she explained in detail how she came to write this poem. It was an amazing story.

    I was kind during my year in Kuwait in the Vermont Army National Guard. I gave the Girl Scout cookies that were mailed to us soldiers to Camel Herders just over a barbed wire fence. Gave them some bottled water, too. They were human beings with families just like me. Everybody should be kind and put their guns down. I put my guns down and left the military. I am a kind human being. I know Kindness.

    THANKS

    Like

  2. Pingback: Kindness by Anya Silver | Heart Poems

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