Holding the Light by Stuart Kestenbaum

Gather up whatever is 
glittering in the gutter,
whatever has tumbled 
in the waves or fallen 
in flames out of the sky,

for it’s not only our
hearts that are broken, 
but the heart
of the world as well.
Stitch it back together. 

Make a place where
the day speaks to the night
and the earth speaks to the sky.
Whether we created God
or God created us

it all comes down to this:
In our imperfect world
we are meant to repair
and stitch together 
what beauty there is, stitch it 

with compassion and wire. 
See how everything 
we have made gathers 
the light inside itself
and overflows? A blessing.

Holding the Light

Kestenbaum’s poem chose itself to be the first offering for this new year, a poem that is in itself a blessing. He urges us to gather up all that which is found in the gutter, the waves, the sky, to do this because it’s not only our / hearts that are broken / but the heart / of the world as well. Our broken hearts, the heart of the world, both need mending. We must take these broken pieces and stitch it back together.

This we do because day to night, earth to sky, God or no god, what matters is this: we are meant to repair / and stitch together / what beauty there is. And there is so much beauty to be found in both the world and in our hearts. We are called to do this with compassion for the suffering in this imperfect world, to use the wire of suppleness and strength and deep love.

Then he asks us to see the light gathered within each thing and how it overflows, the way morning sunlight pours over everything in its path. That light, when we hold it, grows, expands and blesses us all. This is how we repair the brokenness of our collective hearts, stitch together our beautifully flawed world. May we each carry light going forward into this new year, a year as Rilke said, “full of things that have never been”.

12 thoughts on “Holding the Light by Stuart Kestenbaum

  1. To repair and stitch together what beauty there is and then see the light that overflows – I really like that.
    Thank you Jan. 💖


  2. Stitching the brokenness together with love and kindness repairs and heals us all.
    A beautiful poem to begin this new year. Thanks Janice, a happy new year for all.


  3. This seems based upon, or at least reminiscent of, the Jewish origin story of how God scattered itself into a zillion pieces, broken into all aspects of life on earth, to be repaired by each fragment living Itself out. Or something like that! Maybe someone here can do a better job…it’s much more moving than my telling. Anyway. Beautiful wording; the poem grabbed me immediately. Thanks Jan for a great Jan(uary) beginning,, and what you offer here.


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