A combination of new and returning participants, 28 total, joined us today, representing local and international perspectives.
Our text was Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye, posted below, and it was a crowd favorite. Two readers read the poem aloud. One participant pointed out how we experience loss internally in order to find kindness externally. We also noticed the juxtaposition of the images in the poem. Before we can find kindness, you must come to know it through sorrow and loss. Another participant mentioned that the dead Indian in a white poncho could be any of us who could contract/have died of Covid. Someone else mentioned that there is something of a universal and cosmopolitan approach to kindness, to see the cloth like a whole humanity needing kindness right now, beginning from an individual thread of sorrow and leading to kindness. Many readers pointed out the personification of kindness in small actions throughout the poem–tying the shoes (what a difference that can make to someone who can’t tie their own shoes) and gazing at bread (honoring it, knowing that it’s there). There was a consensus that we all need to be more attentive to the isolated acts of kindness in our lives.
Our prompt was “Write about a time that kindness did or did not find you.” Five participants shared their writing, inspiring a rich array of responses from the listeners. Several of the stories shared were about “simple” acts of kindness that had lasting, healing effects. Other themes had to do with the power of kindness to unite us with others and with the way kindness can even remake and reshape one’s life. Some participants wrote poems with striking, revelatory metaphors for kindness–a small bird, a white box; others wrote moving stories in which unexpected expressions of kindness helped them recover from trauma.
Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.
Please join us for our next session Monday, June 22nd at 6pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.
We look forward to seeing you again soon!
Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye 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 gaze at 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. From Words Under the Words: Selected Poems. Copyright © 1995 by Naomi Shihab Nye.