Clearing – Martha Postlewaite

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.


This poem caught my attention for its brevity and simplicity while conveying a profound message. Although I agree the world needs saving in so many ways, I am continuously struck by how inadequate I feel and am in the face of her suffering. Yet, I cannot believe there is nothing to be done, that I have nothing to offer.

So I resonate with what Postlewaite is suggesting, and what I have heard from other,  wise poets (David Wagoner, Derek Walcott, David Whyte, Mary Oliver and more). Stand still, make a space for yourself, wait until the song / that is your life / falls into your own cupped hands / and you recognize and greet it.

And then, as she says, you will know what your gifts are and how to offer them to this needful world. This world so worthy of rescue. And I might add, it probably won’t be grandiose, affecting millions. Instead it will affect one other person, perhaps two or three if you and they are lucky. But those worthy people will be better for receiving your gifts.

The song that is your life – have you heard it yet? Are you listening?

10 thoughts on “Clearing – Martha Postlewaite

  1. This poem is one I could use in my heart at the moment. I am waiting patiently and trying not to get impatient. For me, one day at a time works otherwise I get overwhelmed. I do my part by trying to be honest with others even though it might hurt them or me in some way.


  2. Oh, Jan, this poem and your analysis, is just so perfect for where I am in my own journey. I’ve printed it and will step into embodying it. Thank you so much. 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



  3. Dear Jan – thanks for this wise reminder to tune inward and listen, patiently, for the song of your life. Trusting the gift that is our life and that we, in turn, can give to others. For me, the response to the listening doesn’t necessarily come in words, but rather in a felt sense. Doubts still plague that listening, but slowly I’m learning to trust the pull of the song.


  4. But once you know yourself, your song, your gifts surely it is vital to become politically & socially engaged because there is so much we must fight to change & save in this world.


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