A Poem About Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

By Dianna Bonny

This has been one of my most popular posts over the past year, so I thought I would repost it for my newer readers. Enjoy.

I love the poem “Kindness,” by Naomi Shihab Nye. I thought I would share it because kindness is something that settles deeper and deeper into my being each day. It is a light that connects our kindred souls, the unspoken acknowledgement that we have been in the same place. The kindness of others has lit my way, like candles being set out in an impossibly dark forest, and I am eternally grateful.

In an article in Spirituality & Health, she was asked, “If you could have your deepest desire, what effect would your poems have on readers and the world?”

She replied, “I want my poems to befriend you. I don’t want you to read a poem and feel like it was a test or a maze or a puzzle, or that it took you somewhere and now you have no idea where you are. I want you to feel as if you met a new friend and wouldn’t mind seeing them again. I think that feeling has a lot to with peace, because when we feel befriended in the world, we feel more peaceful. We feel as if, you know, we’re safer and more connected to one another.”

Kindness in Nature | Dianna Bonny Photography

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is

you must lose things,feel the future dissolve in a moment

like salt weakened in a 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 your 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.

From Words Under the Words: Selected Poems

 

I hope kindness finds its way into your life today.

-db

Who is Dianna Bonny?

Hi, my name is Dianna Bonny. It’s my mission to candidly share my journey with you. For me, it’s all about the healing: to create a radiant healing energy for others who have befallen a similar fate. Together, we can forge beautiful lives of belonging and connection. Thanks for joining me today! I look forward to hearing from you.

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