We’re nearing the end of this month’s, “Creating Daily Nurture” exploration. As I asked myself what nurturing moment I’d like this evening, my thoughts turned to a particular book.
When I was 17, my PE Teacher leant me a copy of a book. I can remember how honoured I felt that she had brought one of her own books in for me, and said she thought I might enjoy reading it. I was a crazily sporty kid, so between school sports and other sporting events, she probably had a pretty good handle on what sort of 17 year old I was. There was a gentle acknowledgement in her book loan, and the sense of being seen and understood a little… something I appreciated then and remember today, a number of decades later!!
The book was unusual to me at that age, and I loved it. It was The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran.
I read it cover to cover, loving the poetic depth, the exploration of life and our approach to it, the wisdom, the beauty on each page.
I bought my own copy soon afterwards, and still turn to it often. It talks of friendship, marriage, trade, giving, time, talking, kids … all the stuff of life, and death. It’s one of many books that feels nurturing to me – one you can read in any state and find sustenance.
This evening I turned to a page at random and enjoyed richness again. It settled beautifully around me, in the midst of my life as it is at the moment – loving, working, caring, exploring, growing, creating, assisting, giggling…
This is the passage:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper the sorrow that carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight….
To anyone who is – or who has ever – experienced sadness, these words remind us that happy and sad are equal, connected, unavoidable. The depth of sadness reflects the depth of love, joy and delight we share during life and vice versa. It flows in all directions.
Books can nurture, I think, not because they tell us something new; but because they reflect back to us in clear form, that which we only dimly sense in our deepest wisdom. We read a passage and feel, “Yes! That’s exactly it!” We see ourselves, and we know others share our experience.