What I Must Tell Myself

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Above the water and against the mountain the geese fly through the brushed darkness of the early morning and out into the light, they travel over my immovable house with such unison of faith and with such assurance toward the south cresting the mountains and the long coast of a continent as they move each year toward a horizon they have learned to call their own.

I know this house, and this horizon, and this world I have made. I know this silence and the particular treasures and terrors of this belonging but I cannot know the world to which I am going. I have only this breath and this presence for my wings and they carry me in my body whatever I do from one hushed moment to another.

I know my innocence and I know my unknowing but for all my successes I go through life like a blind child who cannot see, arms outstretched trying to put together a world.  And the world works on my behalf catching me in its arms when I go too far. I don’t know what I could have done to have earned such faith.

But what of all the others and the bitter lovers and the ones who were not held?  Life turns like a slow river and suddenly you are there at the edge of the water with all the rest and the fire carries the feast and the laughter and in the darkness away from the fire the unspoken griefs that still make togetherness but then just as suddenly it has become a fireless friendless night again and you find yourself alone and you must speak to the stars or the rain-filled clouds or anything at hand to find your place.

When you are alone you must do anything to believe and when you are abandoned you must speak with everything you know and everything you are in order to belong.  If I have no one to turn to I must claim my aloneness.  If I cannot speak I must reclaim the prison of my body.  If I have only darkness I must claim the night.

And then, even in the closest dark the world can find me and if I have honor enough for the place in which it finds me I will know it is speaking to me and where I must go.

Watching the geese go south I find that even in silence and even in stillness and even in my home alone without a thought or a movement I am part of a great migration that will take me to another place.  And though all the things I love may pass away and the great family of things and people I have made around me will see me go, I feel them living in me like a great gathering ready to reach a greater home.

When one thing dies all things die together, and must live again in a different way, when one thing is missing everything is missing, and must be found again in a new whole and everything wants to be complete, everything wants to go home and the geese traveling south are like the shadow of my breath flying into the darkness on great heart-beats to an unknown land where I belong. This morning they have found me, full of faith, like a blind child, nestled in their feathers, following the great coast of the wind to a home I cannot see.

~David Whyte from his book of poems the “House of Belonging”

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