Sarah Morgan

Healthcare Geek.
Professional Communicator.


It Is Only Kindness That Makes Sense Anymore

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.

When poetry is good, it can be really, really good. It can change your life and shift your thinking and the memory can stay with you for always. But when it’s bad, it can be truly, disconcertingly, eye-rollingly bad, and just thinking about it can make you cringe. A bit like pizza, sex, and people spontaneously bursting into song in public.

But that’s okay, because this poem is good. Really, really good. Almost-made-me-cry good. (Thank you, Patti, for pointing me to it.) It says ever so much more beautifully than I could what I believe about life – that the dark nights of the soul help us see how bright and beautiful the sunrise is.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye


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