There is much good writing being done these days. This poem by Mark Nepo came to me via Parabola, and I am grateful. During my time with SpiritCare, I have indeed witnessed many old trees slipping into winter. Yes, it is true, at times I do want to hold on to a good strong branch – to pause the inevitable journey that I am also on. I cannot, of course, and that is a blessing.
It could be the letter never answered,
the one in which you declared your love
in such a tender way, admitting to every-
thing. Or when the shell you brought all
the way from the Philippines is dropped
by some loud stranger you never wanted
to show it to in the first place. It could all
unravel the moment the shell shatters on
your floor. Or on a summer bench, your
eyes closed, your fear about to vanish, the
heat bathing you as bees begin to fly.
It could happen anywhere you linger
too long, anywhere you stop hauling and
counting, when your mind spills its tangle
of lists. Often it comes with the relaxation
of great pain. When the hip finally mends
enough to step. Or your need to know
is broken by a bird lifting into light.
Or when succeeding in being something
you’re not. Being influential when you’re
shy. Or rugged when you’re tender.
Or while watching an old tree slip into
winter, like the one thing you won’t let
go of dropping all its leaves.
When the elements in all their beauty
reshape our eyes, it is God’s kiss: gentle
as erosion. When you could crumble in
an instant—all your pain, salt waiting
for a wave—you are close.