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If I Had Known…I Would Have….

If I Had Known…I Would Have….

[Note: These Resources for Recovering Resilience will now post weekly in 2023, on Thursdays; always archived on my website.]

If I had known to post the poems below to mark the turn into a new year tricky with both hope for and disillusionment with humanity, I would have. Friends shared the poems below, The Birthday of the World by Marge Piercy and Quiet Psalm by Silvio Machado, at our Gourmet Poets Society gathering on New Year’s Eve, sharing our own hopes for healing in a vulnerable world.

May they provide wise counsel as you reflect on how to keep your own showing up for what you have done and left undone alive and kicking. And then enjoy Joanna Macy’s vows from The Work that Re-Connects (my friend Lee’s e-mail signature) that skillfully show us how.

The birthday of the world
By Marge Piercy

On the birthday of the world
I begin to contemplate
what I have done and left
undone, but this year
not so much rebuilding

of my perennially damaged
psyche, shoring up eroding
friendships, digging out
stumps of old resentments
that refuse to rot on their own.

No, this year I want to call
myself to task for what
I have done and not done
for peace. How much have
I dared in opposition?

How much have I put
on the line for freedom?
For mine and others?
As these freedoms are pared,
sliced and diced, where

have I spoken out? Who
have I tried to move? …

In this holy season, I stand
self-convicted of sloth
in a time when lies choke

the mind and rhetoric
bends reason to slithering
choking pythons. Here
I stand before the gates
opening, the fire dazzling

my eyes, and as I approach
what judges me, I judge
myself. Give me weapons
of minute destruction. Let
my words turn into sparks.

Quiet Psalm

-by Silvio Machado

Let there be a quiet that falls like grace,

over all of us:

over our hands

which have slowly become guns,

our teeth, now daggers,

and over our hearts,

which explode with the suicide bombs.

Let us take ourselves back

to the first time we saw each other

on the Fertile Crescent,

where we drew water to drink

from the same river,

or back to the first playground

where you asked, What’s your name?

and I responded, I am you.

Let us follow this unmentioned history

back in time so that we may see

that the suffering of one

is the suffering of all,

and furthermore,

the responsibility.

Let us gather up our missiles,

our shrapnel, our tanks,

our nuclear threats, and our hatred

and ask:

How could I have thought

to use these against you?

And let there be a quiet that falls over us like grace,

as we stand dumbed by the asking.

And then

let there be a Listening

for the deepest of answers.

Five Vows From Joanna Macy and the Work that Reconnects

I vow to myself and to each of you:

  • To commit myself daily to the healing of our world and the welfare of all beings.
  • To live on Earth more lightly and less violently in the food, products, and energy I consume.
  • To draw strength and guidance from the living Earth, the ancestors, the future generations, and my brothers and sisters of all species.
  • To support others in our work for the world and ask for help when I need it.
  • To pursue a daily practice that clarifies my mind, strengthens my heart, and supports me in observing these vows.

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