Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

You didn’t gift me with charisma

And social chatter feels strange when I attempt it,

Like clothing cut for someone else’s form.

Others can wear it; it flatters them.

I marvel at how it sets off their features

And becomes them.

“You’re always quiet,” he said to me,

And it wasn’t criticism.

Warmth of tone expressed instead

Understanding of my nature,

And acceptance too.

But how often I’ve leveled those words at myself

Like a verdict of guilt

And have wished for ease with worthwhile words.

But that is not the gift you gave.


Yesterday my son grieved for a fish.

It lay dead on a pebbled bed

Under manmade cascades

Of the stream pumped through

The center aisle of Bass Pro Shops.

Water bubbled and laughed around it,

But the silver form could not answer

The current’s exuberance

With flip of fin or flick of tail.

“It’s sad that the fish died, right?”

It wasn’t a question but rather a hope

That someone shared his sorrow.

Again and again, for an hour or more,

He remembered with tears the little life lost.

His grief was not for death alone,

But also for the suffering that surely came first –

The battle waged in that little body

And lost.

I recognize that hurt in my son

And know its shape because it is

The mirror of my own.

So I don’t tell him not to be sad

Or cloak his pain with platitudes,

For he would feel dishonesty there

And learn to hide his tears.

I hold him instead and let him cry

And tell him that I know, I know.

I pray for him to have the courage

To let it hurt

And to let love be the yield.

For this is the seed of a divine gift

To a world afraid of pain.


I received from friends a holy profusion:

Wise words, and witty ones,

A bungled but perfect autograph,

Steady eyes and an easy smile,

A rich cup of coffee, a mother’s gold,

A place at the table,

Dear presence in the shade,

Permission not to be okay,

And songs, such songs!

A chance to hold in my two hands

The life-giving work of theirs.

I felt like a pauper receiving riches

With nothing to give in return.


But my son grieved for a fish,

And it was no small offering.

While I would wish for sweeter gifts,

You have shown me the terrible beauty in this:

To carry their stories in my bones,

To let the weight of their brokenness and glory

Press upon and shape my heart,

To believe for them whose faith has failed,

To hold this pain as a signpost

O’er the furrowed earth

To the harvest you’ll bring

From all this hurt,

And from all this death, at last –

A birth.


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