Words of WonderThe Journey - David Whyte

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again

painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
enscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

first, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes
of your life.

You are not leaving
you are arriving.

by David Whyte


David Whyte is one of my favourite poets, have you come across him before? He often manages to capture a rich and textured inner landscape with few words, usually relating it to images from nature, comforting me in his knowing of the mysterious terrain. ‘That first, bright and indescribable wedge of freedom in your own heart’… yes, that one.

Today I woke up in a cabin in the mountainous Norwegian woods, on the farm of artistic and fully alive people, with the thrill of morning frost and quiet sunlight through the trees. And as I was looking at the grey remains of last night’s fire, pondering my place in the family of things, this poem peeked around a corner of my mind. It speaks to me of the joy of being immersed in the natural world, as well as the layers of lostness and belonging that can simultaneously be present inside, the ashes of what has been and the hope of what may come.

I like how the poem speaks of the sky, too – of its openness and vastness and brightness. In traditional Buddhist teachings as well as in mindfulness, the sky is often used as an metaphor for the mind. We can get so preoccupied with the little topics of thoughts and feelings flying round, that we lose touch with what it’s happening inside of: the great sky of awareness. Pema Chödrön reminds us that “you are like the sky, everything else is just the weather”…

What does it do in your practice, when you return again and again to the sky-like nature of the mind? It might include a newfound freedom…

Photo by Ameen Fahmy on Unsplash