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Love After Love

Derek Walcott wrote this wonderful poem about celebrating life. He suggested we greet ourselves offering hospitality as we realize that we let other things take the place of getting to know the person who was us.

The poem describes a wonderful (wonder filled) companionship in the second stanza. Companionship is sharing meals as we sojourn. Journey is the daily, perhaps moment-to-moment work we do while sojourning. Jacques Derrida drew on an Algerian-French-Jewish background in writing about greeting the stranger, but I don’t know if he meant ourselves.

I considered this today as I prepared a presentation. The world speaks to us and we speak to it, but are we listening as the conversation unfolds? It is in listening to our self that we make sense of the world and it in turn makes sense of us.

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Love After Love

I have thought about this poem a lot lately. It just keeps popping into my head during quiet times. It is a beautiful poem by Derek Walcott. Whenever I read it, it reminds each moment is a fresh beginning and it passes with its own truth contained within it.

As I mature, I get a sense of both getting to know me better and, at the same, realizing how little I know about myself. These feelings would feel counter-intuitive if they did not feel so right.

The time will come

when, with elation,

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror,

and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who loved you

all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.

Love After Love

We arrived safe and sound. There was not much traffic and the roads were clear through the mountains. It is a bit tiring with a lot of visiting of family and friends. We are a large family spread out geographically so we do not see each other often. It is different to see each other face-to-face, have conversations, share meals, and reminisce. There is much laughter.

I find it is in these gatherings that I look in. I greet my self through the presence of siblings, parents, nieces, nephews, and a varied assortment of relatives. Who do we resemble inwardly and outwardly? It is not always obvious until we see others who helped form of our lives. It is like meeting yourself on the journey of life. It is in this companionship, with others and eventually our self, we rediscover our self.

Derek Walcott wrote this beautiful poem around that theme, meeting yourself on life’s journey.

The time will come

when, with elation,

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your mirror,

and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.

Love After Love by Derek Walcott

Here are a couple of poems. The first is by Derek Walcott and speaks to the relational nature of being with our self. The second is a haiku I wrote yesterday about the need to live in relationship starting with one’s self and extending out to beloved others.
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Sitting in circles
Revealing our inner most thoughts
A covenant grows
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