Poetry is a spiritual path for me, and Rumi and David Whyte language that path. So, when David Whyte came to Florida this past weekend, I of course went to go see him. During his reading, he spoke about asking “beautiful questions.” Beautiful questions are questions that open-up imaginal horizons to walk towards; they start a conversation; the questions serve as invitations. For the past month, it’s been easy to get caught up in the “thick of thin things” as Covey has said. And then there’s poetry, which permits us to get back to our authenticity, allowing our future selves to look back at our ancestral selves for a conversation.
As a new father to an 8-month old daughter, when Whyte read My Daughter Asleep, I realized again what’s important and thought about all of the carefully wrought lines in her tiny hands; in my hands that once were that small; in all of our hands.
So, in this moment of clarity, I’d like to remind all of you to stay focused on the important things, to ask beautiful questions that allow you to explore your ancestral self, to remind yourself of your intentions, and to continue achieving your goals!
Best wishes, James
My Daughter Asleep
Carrying a child,
I carry a bundle of sleeping
I carry my daughter
adrift on my shoulder,
dreaming her slender dreams
and I carry her beneath the window,
watching her moon lit palm open and close
like a tiny folded map,
each line a path that leads where I can’t go,
so that I read her palm not knowing what I read
walk with her in moon light on the landing,
not knowing with whom I walk,
making invisible prayers to go on with her where
I can’t go,
conversing with so many unknowns that must know her more
intimately than I do.
And so to these unspoken shadows and this broad night
I make a quiet request to the great parental darkness
to hold her when I cannot, to comfort her when I am gone,
to help her learn to love the unknown for itself,
to take it gladly like a lantern for the way before her,
to help her see where ordinary light will not help her,
where happiness has fled, where faith will not reach.
My prayer tonight for the great and hidden symmetries of life
to reward this faith I have and twin her passages of loneliness with friendship,
her exiles with home coming, her first awkward steps with promised onward leaps.
May she find in all this, day or night, the beautiful centrality of pure opposites,
may she discover before she grows old, not to choose so easily between past and present,
may she find in one or the other her gifts acknowledged.
And so as I helped to name her, I help to name these powers,
I bring to life what is needed, I invoke the help she’ll want
following those moonlit lines into a future uncradled by me but parented by all I call.
As she grows away from me, may these life lines grow with her, keep her safe,
with my open palm whose lines have run before her to make a safer way,
I hold her smooth cheek and bless her this night into all these other unknown
nights to come.
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