It is said that before entering the sea
a river trembles with fear.
She looks back at the path she has traveled,
from the peaks of the mountains,
the long winding road crossing forests and villages.
And in front of her,
she sees an ocean so vast,
that to enter
there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.
But there is no other way.
The river can not go back.
Nobody can go back.
To go back is impossible in existence.
The river needs to take the risk
of entering the ocean
because only then will fear disappear,
because that’s where the river will know
it’s not about disappearing into the ocean,
but of becoming the ocean.
I always appreciate poems being sent to me and while they might not always immediately appear in this collection (the poem drifting to the top in any given week is a many-factored process), this one simply did. Khalil Gibran is an interesting ‘writer, poet and visual artist’ by any account, and as I only knew him from reading his book ‘The Prophet’ a long time ago, I enjoyed reading up on his life and art in the extensive Wikipedia file about him.
The poem probably stood out for me as it arrived in the middle of the Mindfulness for Life retreat – where we did a fair bit of practice around the theme of resting and space . I noticed once again how upping the amount of practice in my days in this retreat context, even though it was at home rather than on the beautiful Holy Isle, really made a difference to the level of settledness and presence I experienced. Retreats are amazing! But there’s also that little bit of habitual resistance before the surrender into that space – I’m so used to my stories and busyness and control attempts, that the unknown of a fuller letting go can feel almost a bit daunting. Yet, perhaps like the river discovers in each moment, it’s so worth it…