This week, a delightful yoga teacher in Vancouver, WA, introduced her class to a Robert Bly poem that spoke to her deeply about the theme of “surrender to what is.” Not “surrender” in a painful, woeful sense of giving up, but “surrender” in a sense of relinquishing control over those things which we cannot possibly have any control. The passing of time. The movement of earth through space. Past events and circumstances. The “what is.”
When she read it to us, it grabbed me, too, piercing me precisely at a place in my heart where I was storing the stories I’ve heard recently from some of my fellow living donors who had outcomes more negative than mine. As I reflected and stretched, stretched and reflected during that hour, I found myself praying with every breath for inner peace for the people I know who are feeling grief, anger, resentment, disappointment, pain, regret. And for the same thing for me. For all of us.
The poem, “People Like Us” by Robert Bly, is reprinted with the author’s permission here in full. (I’m not reprinting it on this blog page because of copyright.) At the link above, you can also opt to hear the poem read aloud by Garrison Keillor, as part of a 2005 segment of his daily Writers Almanac show.
While I think the whole poem is great, the last two lines are the ones that I’ve been chanting to myself from the moment I first heard them. “Greatness has a defender. And even in death, you’re safe.”
When I mentioned to my sister-in-law (who was with me in the yoga class) that I loved the poem, she encouraged me to look up another one that she says touched her even more than Bly’s did. It is called “The Guest House,” and is by the Persian poet Rumi. Here is an excerpt from Coleman Barks’ translation, with a link to it on PBS.org:
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor…
Wishing you all peace today.