Loss and Returning to Ourselves

I often turn to poets for insight into my life, our life, the meaning of life.  That’s what they do.  They reach into the heart of being human and begin to write there.  They write inside the human heart. They write out of the heart.  They write about the heart.  In many respects they write the heart back into being–and they can because they have traversed there with the heart so intimately.

So these two poets, Mary Oliver, and Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi, and excerpts from one of each of their poems.

Love sorrow. She is yours now, and you mustbench-889222_640
take care of what has been
given. Brush her hair, help her

into her little coat, hold her hand,
especially when crossing a street.

Mary Oliver—”Love Sorrow”

This being human is a guest house.California Nursery Co. Guest House, Niles Blvd, Fremont, CA

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Rumi, “The Guest House”

In very different times, in utterly different languages, these two poets teach me that there is a way of being with one’s experiences that both allow them to be what they are and that whatever they may be brings me back to myself towards a wholeness.  Loss, whatever it is–of a precious being, of a precious thing, or of a precious idea–leaves us in that moment feeling so lost from ourselves.  In the very least, we find ourselves lost because our own being in the world has depended on and taken shape from who or what we have lost.  We have come to think of the precious one or thing as essential to who we are rather than a beautiful, wonderful friend, a delightful guest in our house that is our life.

These poets teach us to love our precious ones, welcome them, treat them with honor, tenderness and hospitality into the house of our hearts. When we do that, we are allowed to remember that we are a wholeness ourselves that is so often enriched by guests, by friends, by loves.  And we can, even as we welcome them and cherish them, return to ourselves at the same time.  When the loss comes, there will be pain and sorrow and grief, but there will also then be the knowing, the wisdom of how to return to ourselves, to our houses of the heart, enriched by all our loves.  Even the lost ones.

Bob Patrick

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