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We are all spinning with shock and sadness , anger and confusion after the senseless shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut today.

This is the poem I reach for in times of tragedy. When my mind goes numb and my heart is breaking.

my Jenny, the animal whisperer

I share it as an offering.

Anger, blame and righteousness can be the first responses of a frightened mind.

But the heart?   It’s natural response is kindness.

The very bravest response is kindness.


KINDNESS                    Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

– from The Words Under the Words



6 responses to “Kindness”

  1. Sylvia Catron

    This piece “Kindness” is beautiful,meaningful, and from my experience,very true. I discovered many years ago that the depth of sorrow over what is lost equals the height of the joy I had experienced. Kindness does not leave and makes sense of all that follows loss..

  2. Kelly

    Thanks for sharing. This is a lovely poem.

  3. Brenda Dolly - "Earth Angel"

    Beautiful response Beth…
    I immediately said prayers for those innocent souls who left us so unexpectedly….for them to go into the “Light” quickly and find their way easily…Also prayers for the precious families left behind…gifts wrapped and ready for these children…plans made to gather with all their loved ones – now empty and sad…So many happenings in the world to get our attention to show compassion for one another..

    “God Bless Us, Every One.”
    Brenda Dolly – Earth Angel

  4. Toni

    Thank you, Beth.

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