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A Poem to Share

Posted 9/4/2015

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  For several weeks, I have been exchanging emails and having brief phone conversations with Nancy who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Finally, yesterday, I was able to meet with her and her husband, and it was, I think, a productive and useful hour. I know that I liked them both tremendously and respected her thoughtful consideration of her options.

  Today she sent me this poem which resonated deeply inside me. I hope it is meaningful for you, too.

for a friend, on the arrival of illness
John O'Donohue
Now is the time of dark invitation
Beyond a frontier that you did not expect;
Abruptly, your old life seems distant.
You barely noticed how each day opened
A path through fields never questioned,
Yet expected deep down to hold treasure.
Now your time on earth becomes full of threat;
Before your eyes your future shrinks.
You lived absorbed in the day to day,
So continuous with everything around you,
That you could forget you were separate;
Now this dark companion has come between you,
Distances have opened in your eyes,
You feel that against your will
A stranger has married your heart.
Nothing before has made you
Feel so isolated and lost.
When the reverberations of shock subside in you,
May grace come to restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space in your heart
To embrace this illness as a teacher
Who has come to open your life to new worlds.
May you find in yourself
A courageous hospitality
Towards what is difficult,
Painful and unknown.


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