She slipped in through the back door
In the dark night, only the tiniest
light from the sliver of silver moon,
she tiptoes inside the back door, careful
not to let the screen door clap closed
behind her. She moves like
slow sliding slippers across the tile
kitchen floor, pulls her way up
the ladder of stone stairs, into your
room at the end of the hallway, with its
walls painted in pictures of serious
and smiling children. She inches her way
into your bed, like a caterpillar
crawling and settles beside you, silent
except for the soft sound of her breath like
morning dew on the strawberries out
in the garden. When you wake, you sense
her presence lingering there, having almost
forgotten what she feels like.
This poem was inspired by John Barrymore’s quote: “Happiness often slips in through a door you didn’t know you left open”.
I have been reading a chapter or two or three a week of The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World with his holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams, which was given to me earlier this year as a birthday gift by a dear friend. I love what they say on pages 274 and 275 about a generous spirit and generosity, which I’ve excerpt below:
“When we have a generous spirit, we are easy to be with and fun to be with. We radiate happiness, and our very company can bring joy to others. This no doubt goes hand in hand with the ability…to be less self-centered, less self-regarding, and more self-forgetful. Then we are less burdened by our self agenda: We do not have anything to prove. We do not need to be seen in a particular way. We can have less pretension and more openness, more honesty. This naturally brings ease to those around us, too; as we have accepted ourselves, our vulnerabilities, and our humanity, we can accept the humanity of others. We can have compassion for our faults and have compassion for those of others. We can be generous and give out joy to others.”
“In generosity, there is a wider perspective, in which we see our connection to all others. There is a humility that recognizes our place in the world and acknowledges that at another time we could be the one in need, whether that need is material, emotional, or spiritual. There is a sense of humor and an ability to laugh at ourselves so that we do not take ourselves so seriously. There is an acceptance of lie, in which we do not force life to be other than what it is. There is a forgiveness of others and a release of what might otherwise have been. There is a gratitude for all that we have been given. Finally, we see others with a deep compassion and a desire to help those who are in need. And from this comes a generosity that is ‘wise-selfish’, a generosity that recognizes helping others as helping ourselves.”
I want to be a generous spirit, to be what the Archbishop describes as “becoming an oasis of peace, a pool of serenity that ripples out to all of those around us.”. And, I want to contribute to creating a more generous world. Where I am now, I see opportunity for growth in expanding my self-compassion and enhancing my ability to laugh at myself.
* I took this photo in Istanbul Turkey in 2010. I picked a photo from this lovely country because in my experience there, I felt a the people’s generosity of spirit, kindness and hospitality very strongly. I especially liked photo because it captures the simple joy that kids spread.
Then a wren in the privat began to sing.
He was positively drenched in enthusiasm,
I don’t know why. And yet, why not.
Don’t you love that phrase: “positively drenched in enthusiasm”? It makes me heart patter in happiness and invites me to inquire, what positively drenches me in enthusiasm? Well, perhaps quite simply, the sight and sound of the wren singing with joy for possibly no reason at all, other than he is able and it feels delicious.
For a few weeks, I’m featuring posts from Mary Oliver’s A Thousand Mornings. If you missed last week’s post, you can read it here: Three Things to Remember.
* I took this photo at my friend’s cabin on Lake Koronis of a wren on the deck railing singing it’s morning song.