Archive for the ‘David Whyte’ Category

IMG_4866It’s been a quiet time over here at My Inner Edge…I have been living in my own inner edge, absorbed in work and life and celebrating the arrival of my new granddaughter, Hazel Pomeline. One season has dissolved into the next and the next and the next…the leaves changing, dropping…bare trees against an early winter sky.

A recent adventure for me–hanging out at Story U, working on my “undeniable story.” Fabulous. Challenging. It’s gotten me writing again! The journey through my own backstory and story-ing myself into my future reminds of this poem by David Whyte.


Be infinitesimal under that sky, a creature

even the sailing hawk misses, a wraith
among the rocks where the mist parts slowly.

Recall the way mere mortals are overwhelmed
by circumstance, how great reputations
dissolve with infirmity and how you,
in particular, stand a hairsbreadth from losing
everyone you hold dear.

Then, look back down the path to the north,
the way you came, as if seeing
your entire past and then south
over the hazy blue coast as if present
to a broad future.

Remember the way you are all possibilities
you can see and how you live best
as an appreciator of horizons,
whether you reach them or not.

Admit that once you have got up
from your chair and opened the door,
once you have walked out into the clean air
toward that edge and taken the path up high
beyond the ordinary, you have become
the privileged and the pilgrim,
the one who will tell the story
and the one, coming back
from the mountain,
who helped to make it.

– David Whyte –


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Warmer today. The temperature rises above 25 degrees. Ice flows move south on the Hudson. In the first light a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers  gore the half dead Catalpa tree by our pond. There are eight male cardinals waiting…taking turns at the feeder. Bluejays, rosy finches, goldfinches, juncos, sparrows, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches and the smaller woodpeckers hunker in the brush. There are bird songs…some sense of spring gathers.

I take a break to walk with my friend Sunny–both of us hoping for snowshoeing weather. The predictions for tonight are that the pending storm will swing south of us…we’ll get a light dusting.

Later in the day, I visit my Dad, stopping on the way, as always, at the Goshen Bakery. This time it’s a mini Chocolate Mousse Tart and a piece Chocolate Cheese Cake to share. He’s in heaven…”Delectible!” he says, over and over again. He tells me that he’s been gone a lot and when I ask where he’s been, he says, “All over the place…everywhere! In fact, I just got back today.” Some thing has changed for me. I no longer feel the need to “correct” his reality–I just smile now and say, “I’m so glad you’re here.”

Last month I reread Reeve Lindbergh’s book, No More Words. It is a memoir of the last seventeen months of her mother’s life…the experience of coming to grips with loss, with acceptance, with the enduring wish that things might be different, with the strangeness of a parent who becomes gradually smaller, more childlike, silent, dependent, fiercely frail, disconnected, delusional and yet still here. This along with all of the second guessing, the longing and the yearning to be close, the recognition that there is no separation, the fear, the frustration, the buffeting between generosity, obligation, resentment, compassion, deep caring and protective distancing. She captures so completely the initial stages of relating to the promise of death…how the expectation, perhaps spoken–“It won’t be long now, maybe a few months.”–begins a process of stiffening and tightening, a certain quality of vigilance and separation…and how later, there’s a softening when the predictions are past their shelf life and the preciousness of connection, regardless of how it unfolds, is enough…is, in fact, deeply satisfying and nourishing. Time and the person of the parent becomes kaleidoscopic…their youthful qualities mix with memory, humor and the poignancy of the present.

The first time I read her book, I soaked the pages with tears…seeing myself; understanding and relating to all the contrasts of her life–her visits with her mother, her times with her husband and son…the joy of the changing seasons and bittersweetness of month after month after month awaiting the inevitable. This time I cried, too, but differently…perhaps simply being moved by how much I’ve let go and allowed my own heart to soften.


Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath,
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.

Until now.


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When you eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize it own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.


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FROM David Whyte:

“We have the strange idea, unsupported by any evidence, that we are loved and admired only for our superb strength, our far-reaching powers, and our all-knowing competency. Yet in the real world, no matter how many relationships may have been initiated by strength and power, no marriage or friendship has ever been deepened by these qualities. After a short, erotic honeymoon, power and omnipotence expose their shadow underbellies and threaten real intimacy, which is based on mutual vulnerability. After the bows have been made to the brass god of power, we find in the privacy of relationship that same god suddenly immobile and inimitable to conversation. As brass gods ourselves, we wonder why we are no longer loved in the same way we were at our first appearance. Our partners have begun to find our infallibility boring and, after long months or years, to find us false, frightening, and imprisoning.

We have the same strange idea in work as we do in love: that we will engender love, loyalty and admiration in others by exhibiting a great sense of power and competency. We are surprised to find that we garner fear and respect but forgo the other, more intimate magic. Real, undying loyalty in work can never be legislated or coerced; it is based on a courageous vulnerability that invites others by our example to a frontier conversation whose outcome is yet in doubt.

We have an even stranger idea: that we will finally fall in love with ourselves only when we have become the totally efficient organized organism we have always wanted to be and left all of bumbling ineptness behind. Yet in exactly the way we come to find love and intimacy with others through vulnerability, we come to those same qualities in ourselves through living out the awkwardness of not knowing, of not being in charge.

We try to construct a life in which we will be perfect, in which we will eliminate awkwardness, pass by vulnerability, ignore ineptness, only to pass through the gate of our lives and find, strangely, that the gateway is vulnerability itself. The very place we are open to the world whether we like it or not.”

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Another beautiful day. Lunch and a walk with my dear friend Patricia to celebrate her birthday. We bask in gratitude…here we are, Patricia retired…me, able to schedule my work life pretty much as I please. My wish is that we have many more years of friendship–walks, talks, tea, deep reflective listening.

We talk about fear and faith…about our abiding faith in something larger–an order in the universe that can and will prevail in the face of ignorance and violence. I think of this poem…


I want write about faith,
about the way the moon rises
over cold snow, night after night,

Faithful even as it fades from fullness,
slowly becoming that last curving and impossible
sliver of light before the final darkness.

But I have no faith myself
I refuse it the smallest entry.

Let this then, my small poem,
like a new moon, slender and barely open,
be the first prayer that opens me to faith.


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There are some people in this life who seem to have more than their share of challenges. For whatever reason, they are faced with one thing after another. This has been true of late for my dear friend, Kathleen. And yet, in the face of it all, she has kept her sense of humor, oiled up her patience and continued to express her gratitude. She has been up against physical challenges, financial challenges, family challenges, professional challenges and just when the light has begun to shine, another dark cloud has gathered on the horizon. She has cried, she has laughed, she has thrown up her hands in exasperation. She has NOT given up; she has NOT given in. Call it faith, call it determination, call it persistence…perhaps stubbornness…her dedication to manifesting the life of her dreams is unwavering and continues to bear fruit in spite of everything. Cheers to you, Kathleen! I bow to your grace under fire.


And we know, when Moses was told,
in the way he was told,
“Take off your shoes!” He grew pale from the simple

reminder of fire in the dusty earth.
He never recovered
his complicated way of loving again

and was free to love in the same way
he felt the fire licking at his heels loved him.
As if the lion earth could roar

and take him in one movement.
Every step he took
from there was carefully placed.

Everything he said mattered as if he knew
the constant witness of the ground
and remembered his own face in the dust

the moment before revelation.
Since then thousands have felt
the same immobile tongue with which he tried to speak.

Like the moment you too saw, for the first time,
your own house turned to ashes.
Everything consumed so the road could open again.

Your entire presence in your eyes
and the world turning slowly
into a single branch of flame.


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