A Poem for My Daughter
It seems we have made pain
some kind of mistake,
like having it
is somehow wrong.
Don’t let them fool you—
pain is a part of things.
But remember, dear Ellie,
the compost down in the field:
if the rank and dank and dark
are handled well, not merely discarded,
but turned and known and honored,
they one day come to beds of rich earth
home even to the most delicate rose.
God comes to you disguised as your life.
Blessings often arrive as trouble.
In French, the word blesser means to wound
and relates to the Old English bletsian—
to sprinkle with blood.
And in Sanskrit there is a phrase,
a phrase to carry with you
wherever you go:
everything is food.
Every last thing.
The Navajo people,
it is said,
obvious flaws into their sacred quilts …
It is there, they say,
in the “mistake,”
in the imperfection,
through which the Great Spirit moves.
Work on becoming a native of mind, a native of heart.
No thought, no feeling, could ever be “bad.”
It’s just another creature
in the bestiary of Buddha,
the bestiary of Christ.
knowing this down to the marrow,
could save you, dear one,
much needless strife.
Remember that wild and strange animals
paused to drink at the pond
of the Buddha’s mind
even after he saw
the morning star.
...To laugh …
To be shameless, wild, and silly …
To know—fully, headlong,
without compunction—the ordinary magic
of our beautiful human bodies …
these seem worthwhile pursuits, life-long tasks.
By way of valediction, dear Ellie,
I pass along some words
from our many gracious teachers:
The imperfect is our paradise.
All is grace.