Last night, I read, more like re-read, the first two chapters of Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer. I find it so interesting to read something for a second, third, or fourth time. I always discover something new in the process. It might only be a word, a sentence, a turn of phrase, but it provides new insight. As I read last night, it was no different. Parker included this poem by William Stafford. I had to read several times, because the words are not in perfect order, but life is not either.
I am in Spokane and somewhat settled in. As I struggle a bit with making sense of my dissertation topic, this poem makes perfect sense. It is precise and piercing in its questions and somewhat disquieting. In those moments of perturbation, life makes more sense and I learn.
Sometimes when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
is there, hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.