2016 Grateful 37

Sometimes, we journeystay in relationships for the good of others and to the detriment of ourselves We put up with situations for a quiet life, not caring about the damage we are doing to our souls. We sacrifice, we struggle, we stay, thinking we are doing the right thing. And slowly, we die. Alone in our misery. Unhappy.

Selflessness can be over-rated. People can give so much of themselves that they have nothing left to give to themselves. We can accomplish so much more if we are strong, sorted, sensible. And yet all too often we fail to prioritise our own health and wellbeing. We put others before ourselves. Understandable, yes. Especially for those with children and dependants. But what happens to our dependants when we break down, when we have neither the physical nor the emotional energy to care? What then?

Last week, I was grateful that I had shared an inaccurate post that led to the discovery of a wonderful poem, one that has stayed with me all week. This week, I’m grateful that a comment on that post led to the discovery of yet another one I think worth sharing.

The Journey, by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations – – –
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – – –
determined to save the only life you could save.


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  • 6 Responses

    1. “David Whyte makes the reading of poetry a matter of life and death.
      His writings have moved me and changed me.”

      – Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides and Beach Music

      house of belonging



      I awoke
      this morning
      in the gold light
      turning this way
      and that

      thinking for
      a moment
      it was one
      like any other.

      the veil had gone
      from my
      darkened heart
      I thought

      it must have been the quiet
      that filled my room,

      it must have been
      the first
      easy rhythm
      with which I breathed
      myself to sleep,

      it must have been
      the prayer I said
      speaking to the otherness
      of the night.

      I thought
      this is the good day
      you could
      meet your love,

      this is the black day
      someone close
      to you could die.

      This is the day
      you realize
      how easily the thread
      is broken
      between this world
      and the next

      and I found myself
      sitting up
      in the quiet pathway
      of light,

      the tawny
      close grained cedar
      burning round
      me like fire
      and all the angels of this housely
      heaven ascending
      through the first
      roof of light
      the sun has made.

      This is the bright home
      in which I live,
      this is where
      I ask
      my friends
      to come,
      this is where I want
      to love all the things
      it has taken me so long
      to learn to love.

      This is the temple
      of my adult aloneness
      and I belong
      to that aloneness
      as I belong to my life.

      There is no house
      like the house of belonging.

    2. ‘The Journey’ is one of David Whytes’ favorites……….thank you for introducing him to me Mary.

    3. I love it, I love it, I love it!! And sometimes I need words like these to tell me that I’m not selfish but taking care of myself. Thank you for sharing, Mary!

      1. Mary & Evozeta,
        I’m no expert ( and everyone has opinion & free speech ) but I’d add my 2 pence worth, if you allow.
        To start with if there is selflessness or meaness, self centeredness in a relationship … !
        Well then isn’t it just a bad relationship that you’d be better off not in ???
        On the other hand, what’s a good relationship then ?
        Which is why I’m responding …
        To me, a good relationship is putting your ” other first” & they would also need to apply in equal measure the same principle. Always make sure ( but never mention) the balance is equal.
        If each puts this principle in practice then your soul is replenished & there is no struggle, no sacrifice.
        It really is that simple.
        “Live for love”

        1. My bullet theory: For the ‘ever and ever’ to work, you’d take a bullet for them and they would take one for you. Antony de Mello has some good stuff to say on this – his book, Awareness – worth a read.

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