The great Sufi poet Rumi wrote, “Hear blessings drop their blossoms around you.” In the past few days I’ve been hearing blossoms all around. Ironically, it’s happening as I am trying to de-clutter my home office. Never easy, because I’m finding treasured letters, notes, emails…often kept for years. Such kindness comes from friends, family, even strangers I’ve met on book tours…clearly soul gifts. So, I stop and reread these blossoms.
One that stunned me again with its beauty came from Lynn Liebert Caruso, a marvelous poet and published author, who wrote “From Pieces.” The daughter of a close family friend, she grew up with Krista, and saw our hearts shattered at Krista’s death while volunteering in Bolivia. She knew of our trip to Bolivia with Aaron (Krista’s husband) to help him close their one room adobe home in a remote village, and the healing we have found in creating gardens and the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship.
She drew on the image of the ceramic cups that ancient Japanese monks kept as one of their few possessions. It has been told that, centuries later when one of these cups was dropped-shattering to the floor, it was not discarded. Instead, it was repaired with gold solder. The repair made the break more prominent, but also gave the cup a new beauty. Her sensitive gifts with language offer blessings to many.
When the call came that your daughter had died.
That the bus left the road and fell to the valley floor
below. That her husband searched the Bolivian hillside
to find her in the black night. Then walked on alone.
Your cup slipped. Shattered.
When you buried her beside a statue of St. Francis,
beneath stories of love and life lived richly.
When you mourned the daughter you had known
in your womb and feel, again, those first kicks.
When the dogwood bloomed that spring
and you realized great loss lives in the same
house as great love.
You knelt to gather the pieces.
When you traveled to her home in that mountain village,
and hiked to the ravine where she died. When you set
flowers on the scar–carved deep into the earth
by the falling bus and knew this would be a wound
that would always show.
When you knelt where her body
might have lain and wondered what she last saw–
the sky of stars, her husband’s wild eyes, black night?
You worked to match the shards.
When you met the old woman who took your place
to dress your daughter’s broken body.
When you sprayed her mud home for scorpions
and the villagers came weaving their stories of your
daughter’s love for the cooperative,
for the children, for the God of tarantulas.
When you knew that she would choose to live on.
You warmed the gold solder and poured it in the open places.
When you returned home to find the grief was so
deep it held you to your bed and your keen rang on.
When you finally stood and said,
then filled the hillside behind your house with peonies
and cherry trees and found that with your hands
you could make things live.
You held the pieces till the solder cooled.
When you started a library, and a foundation that
sent out others in her name. When you learned that burrowing
into the grief that buried you, there was a spring called love.
And it was deep. And it would never dry up.
And drinking of it gave you life.
You rose and passed the cup.
Poet, Lynn Liebert Caruso
Lynn so beautifully captures the essence of the deep spring of love that lives forever in a parent’s heart.
Thinking of you and hope that Rumi’s image will give you pause to hear all of the blessings given each day whenever you see blossoms fall.
A favorite quote…..
For all that has been, Thanks.
For all that will be, Yes!
Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations, in Markings
Sometimes we grieve the loss of a person we’ve never ‘known’ except through their public contributions to our world and our own lives. I feel this way about Maya Angelou, who gave our nation such truth and wisdom in her honest writings and public presentations. Often I have shared her story of a life-changing moment in young adulthood written in her memoir I Know How the Cage Bird Sings. She felt utterly distraught one afternoon, sinking under ravages of guilt heightened by her young son’s distress when she left him for a music tour in Africa. Fearing she was on the verge of suicide, she sought solace from ‘Uncle Wilkie,’ her beloved vocal teacher. With great lament and tears, she told him she thought she was going crazy and might kill herself.
Instead of the comfort she expected, he handed her a legal-size, lined yellow pad and a pen. He said, “Write down your blessings!” Furious that he didn’t understand her condition, she shouted, “Don’t talk nonsense, I’m telling you I am going crazy!”
Ignoring her rant, he said, “Write down that you could hear me say ‘write down’ and think of the millions who cannot hear the cries of their babies, or the sweet words of their beloveds, or the alarm that could help them seek safety. Write down that you can see this yellow pad and think of the millions on this planet who cannot see the smiles of their growing children, or the delight in the faces of their beloveds, or the colors of the sunrise, and the softness of the twilight. Write down that you know how to write. Write down that you know how to read.”
So she began to write, listing all the good that existed in her frazzled life. She found her mood lightened immediately as she gained perspective on the gifts in her world.
In her books and speeches, Maya often told how this story that happened over 50 years ago totally changed the trajectory of her life as she learned to live with a spirit of gratitude. Since then she has written 31 books, essays, plays, and lyrics for songs—all on yellow pads. She will be mourned and missed around the world, but we are immensely fortunate to have the writings of this inspirational woman that will live on, touching our lives.
I have found her memoirs immensely valuable for my classes with college students, for books I write, and for times when I am speaking. Her candid insights have taught me so much and I will be forever grateful that she shared her life with all of us.
Angelou’s words from Letter to My Daughter, a book of essays.
You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
Have you read any of her writings that spoke to you? If so, I’d love to hear about them!