In the Face of Splendor

Kristy Hellum

Take your grief seriously.
Become the ash urn
For the vanishing wilderness.
Despair for the Dolphins.
Make your own salt water
for the disappearing marshes.
The silent Earth is listening.
Be called to outrageous acts of despair
And then,
every now and again,
In the face of splendor,
Turn towards it.

I offer this small poem especially to my dear friend Wrensong whose eloquent post in response to a different poem can be read here. Like Hellum, she feels the anguish of what is happening in the world and then, having felt and expressed her grief, she is able to see the beauty in her life that is also there.
Though the essence of this poem is contained in its title, I was caught with joyful surprise by the ending. Like all poems that express grief, be it for a person or the world at large, I have found that there is always contained within, the reminder that life is beautiful. There is splendor hidden in the darkest places and we must turn towards it, not to erase the despair, but to balance it  – the duet of wonder and grief as Mark Nepo calls it (see the June 2016 post).
I also recommend the website of my new Ohio friend Kim at  WordSPA where she too has chosen this poem to share, along with many others.
Give serious thought to your grief as the poet recommends and every now and again, turn yourself towards the face of splendor. It will be there.

11 thoughts on “In the Face of Splendor

  1. Oh, Jan, I love the word ‘splendour’. So much of what I’ve been dealing with since Kody’s death includes this experience. Margaret 613-725-6941 h 613-795-9879 c

    “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.”

    – Thich Nhat Hanh



  2. Dear Jan: A beautiful raw poem that moves beyond ‘either/or’. Such a pertinent poem for our times. Thank you. xoxo ML


  3. I loved this. In the midst of raw grief, the beauty of life seems absent.
    Then, perhaps a moment in nature or a sweet kindness opens me to the wonder….”the splendour”….Thanks for the reminder Jan, of how I can learn to turn towards it.


  4. I love the times when something splendid happens right in the mist of dark times when you least expect it. I like my neighbor. He’s 2 1/2 years… a really honest fellow with a huge heart and a face of joy to brighten up the world.


  5. Is the “it” in the last line the earth or the splendor?
    I have been playing with “it’ being one and then the other.
    Why not?


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