Instructions for the Journey by Pat Schneider

The self you leave behind
is only a skin you have outgrown.
Don’t grieve for it.
Look to the wet, raw, unfinished
self, the one you are becoming.
The world, too, sheds its skin:
politicians, cataclysms, ordinary days.
It’s easy to lose this tenderly
unfolding moment. Look for it
as if it were the first green blade
after a long winter. Listen for it
as if it were the first clear tone
in a place where dawn is heralded by bells.

And if all that fails,
wash your own dishes.
Rinse them.
Stand in your kitchen at your sink.
Let cold water run between your fingers.
Feel it.

Instructions for the Journey

I’ve admired Pat Schneider for awhile now and was saddened to learn of her recent death so I want to share one of her poems with you.

All poems of life instructions are naturally unique and I appreciate the simplicity of this one. Don’t grieve for the skin you have outgrown, left behind The way the world, too, sheds its skin. Though at times it feels like nothing changes, in truth, each day the world is new. There is a self you are becoming, wet, raw, unfinished, that is always waiting for you as you move forward in your life. Trust it, she is telling us.

It is easy to lose this tenderly / unfolding moment she warns us, this gentle or perhaps sudden transformation to our becoming. Look for it, listen for it, pay attention: the first green blade / after a long winter… the first clear tone / in a place where dawn is heralded by bells. These are the moments we can notice, the moments we can feel our own unfolding.

And then, if all that fails, you can stand at your kitchen sink washing your dishes – as Thich Nhat Hanh tells us ” wash the dishes to wash the dishes”, just that. Let cold water run between your fingers. Feel it. Try it – leave that outgrown skin behind. Be where you are.

6 thoughts on “Instructions for the Journey by Pat Schneider

  1. Jan, a perfect poem for today, the trees out my window turning their leaves gold and rust, shedding the skin of the season in a year I think we’d all like to be shed of. I too am shedding old expectations of myself, of the world, letting go of my need for certainty and solid ground. How can I have an opinion as I am raw and fresh born in this perfect never-before day? Wonderful poem. Just what I needed. Long distance hugs, Wendy

    Like

  2. I hope you know what an important, truly immeasurable gift you are giving to those of us lucky enough to receive your blog in our inboxes! I’ve shared with several others. The poems you curate and discuss are not often ones I would have been aware of, so that alone is a gift. Then you add your lovely, insightful comments and the whole of it becomes a treasure for our hearts. Thank you so very much for giving of yourself like this, now, when so many of us need to be reminded of good people like you.

    Like

  3. Dear Annie, I am so deeply touched by your words, in tears in fact. It is my passion and my pleasure to share poetry with others, never knowing what will land for someone. When you write that ‘the whole of it becomes a treasure for our hearts’, I am wordless. The world has great need of poetry to remind us of our humanity and our goodness. Your kindness in writing to me will carry me forward, inspiring me to continue. I am grateful to be connected to a good person like you. my very best wishes, Janice

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s