Surprising as unplanned kisses, all you haven’t deserved
of days and solitude, your body’s immoderate good health
that lets you work in many kinds of weather. Praise
talk with just about anyone. And quiet intervals, books
that are your food and your hunger; nightfall and walks
before sleep. Praising these for practice, perhaps
you will come at last to praise grief and the wrongs
you never intended. At the end there may be no answers
and only a few very simple questions: did I love,
finish my task in the world? Learn at least one
of the many names of God? At the intersections,
the boundaries where one life began and another
ended, the jumping-off places between fear and
possibility, at the ragged edges of pain,
did I catch the smallest glimpse of the holy?
This poem, in itself surprising as unplanned kisses, asks us to praise those things that come into our life unbidden – all you haven’t deserved, oh my, could we even begin to catalogue that! Your body’s immoderate good health, regardless of its present state, quiet intervals though they may be rare for you, books, always books – they are definitely my food and my hunger, the coming of night, walking at the end of day. All these and more you can list endlessly for yourself.
Praising these for practice – the easy stuff, the things we love and want to remember, to celebrate – a practice so that you might arrive at the place of praising grief and the wrongs you never intended, the inevitable part of life that comes along with joy, the other side of the coin. This we must give thanks for also.
I love her questions (to which there may be no answers). Yes, I have loved; no, I haven’t finished my task in the world – I’m only beginning to understand what it may be; I have learned my own name for the God of my understanding. And yes, I believe I have caught the smallest glimpse of the holy at those intersections, the boundaries where one life began and another ended.
All of this is worthy of praise, the ragged edges of pain and the talk with just about anyone. I hope this is true for you too, that you will always sing the praises for what comes into your life.