A poem about poetry as scripture: People of the Book
Anticipating what's next

For the days when you feel thin-skinned: Listen





The craving for distraction
-- maybe you should open
four different social networks
in four adjacent tabs --

is a messenger.
Some part of you
wants to pretend
you're not feeling tender.

Your beating heart is too big,
too vulnerable. You've stretched
until your skin's too thin,
your knobby places exposed.

Offer a gentle greeting
to the little girl who hopes
that if she spurs the acrobats
and keeps the sparkles flashing

no one will notice
the smudges on her knees
or the circles beneath her eyes.
Let her stop performing.

Ask your aches to gather round
and teach you what they know.
Then they can go, gentle
as a hair drawn out of milk.

One of the things I value most about contemplative practices, prayer and meditation among them, is that they offer practice in noticing one's own emotional landscape.

Imagine if you could make a practice of not avoiding what hurts, but rather greeting it with compassion: what might that change, in your life?

The final image in the poem is drawn from Talmud, where Rav Nachman describes death as being as painless as "drawing a hair out of a bowl of milk." I like the idea that once we ask our wounds to teach us something, they might quietly disappear.

G'mar chatimah tovah: may you be sealed for a good year.