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“The Still Heart That Refuses Nothing”

Lake and Maple 

I want to give myself
as this maple
that burned and burned
for three days without stinting
and then in two more
dropped off every leaf;
as this lake that,
no matter what comes
to its green-blue depths,
both takes and returns it.
In the still heart that refuses nothing,
the world is twice-born –
two earths wheeling,
two heavens,
two egrets reaching
down into subtraction;
even the fish
for an instant doubled,
before it is gone.
I want the fish.
I want the losing it all
when it rains and I want
the returning transparence.
I want the place
by the edge-flowers where
the shallow sand is deceptive,
where whatever
steps in must plunge,
and I want that plunging.
I want the ones
who come in secret to drink
only in early darkness,
and I want the ones
who are swallowed.
I want the way
the water sees without eyes,
hears without ears,
shivers without will or fear
at the gentlest touch.
I want the way it
accepts the cold moonlight
and lets it pass,
the way it lets
all of it pass
without judgment or comment.
There is a lake.
Lalla Ded sang, no larger
than one seed of mustard,
that all things return to.
O heart, if you
will not, cannot, give me the lake,
then give me the song.

-Jane Hirshfield

I am finding myself short on my own words these days, content to rest in the silence of my “still heart that refuses nothing” and be nourished by poetry.  I am deep in the process of writing my next book on lectio divina and pondering what this really means to allow my still heart to refuse nothing.  I am engaging the ancient practice of lectio with this single phrase which has chosen me these days to listen to.  I am living into the contours of its meaning for my life right now.  This phrase is calling me to be fully aware in the midst of life’s messiness, challenge, and unknowing and to welcome in the wideness of my own experience. 

Refusing nothing means making room for the equal measure of sorrow and ecstasy which shower me daily.  I have become so aware these autumn days of all the moments when I want to refuse my experience, when I want reality to be other than it is, and then I hear the call to rest into the truth of what is.  I breathe deeply, I allow the energy of what I resist to have a place in my heart, and somehow I am able to bear it.  Like the poet, I too “want to give myself utterly” as the trees I see beginning to wield their jeweled surrender.  I want to offer myself to what is most real, because that is where holiness pulses like the shimmering of sunlight on water.

Return on Monday and we will celebrate more poetry together with our next Poetry Party.

May your weekend reveal to you the song in your heart so that you can welcome in everything that is.

3Oct 2007 SeattleA

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10 Responses

  1. Thank you for your generous self-giving in this offering. I am nourished, especially in the wordless, imageless places.
    Gratitude for you, Christine!

  2. What a beautiful poem and exquisite photograph.
    Which book of Hirshfield’s poetry is this one from?

  3. I inhale your words this morning as the Twin Sisters reveal their majesty in a foundation of clouds and I silently declare, “sacred ditto.”

    with gratitude and blessings,

  4. a still heart can listen to the sounds of creation.
    and the creation is sound … an unthinkable huge cosmic musical instrument .

    blessings, Christine

  5. Thank you for sharing this beautiful reflection, and for all the others you have shared in the past. Today there is a dearth of spiritual guides. I thank the Lord for your generosity of spirit in allowing us to journey with you and thereby be enriched, and enlightened.

  6. Thank for this gift. I was reading Patti Digh’s new book, “Creative Is A Verb” early this morning. There is a wonderful section on stillness. I came down stairs a bit later and found this while enjoying my coffee. I will be journaling this.

  7. What a timely reminder to beckon the lovely, even (or especially) in the midst of busyness. Dear friend, thank you for your beautiful way of writing and encouraging your community to love well.

  8. this is very grabbing for me . . . the post is inspiring and the image lovely. I need to let the song in my heart reveal what is there and not to push or rush it . . . Silence and Beauty!