12 Aug
Posted in: Poems
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Last night was Jack Kornfield‘s last night to lead the Monday Night Group at Spirit Rock before leaving for a year-long sabbatical. The talk he gave included a lovely dialogue with poet Alison Luterman, in which poetry and personal stories set the stage for Jack to embark on what he said would be a year for him to try out new, creative endeavors. But don’t worry — he’ll be back for the opening of the new Community Meditation Hall next year.

You can listen to the talk here. Here’s one of the poems:

Because Even the Word Obstacle is an Obstacle,
by Alison Luterman

Try to love everything that gets in your way:
the Chinese women in flowered bathing caps
murmuring together in Mandarin, doing leg exercises in your lane
while you execute thirty-six furious laps,
one for every item on your to-do list.
The heavy-bellied man who goes thrashing through the water
like a horse with a harpoon stuck in its side,
whose breathless tsunamis rock you from your course.
Teachers all. Learn to be small
and swim through obstacles like a minnow
without grudges or memory. Dart
toward your goal, sperm to egg. Thinking Obstacle
is another obstacle. Try to love the teenage girl
idly lounging against the ladder, showing off her new tattoo:
“Cette vie est la mienne,” This life in mine,
in thick blue-black letters on her ivory instep.
Be glad she’ll have that to look at all her life,
and keep going, keep going. Swim by an uncle
in the lane next to yours who is teaching his nephew
how to hold his breath underwater,
even though kids aren’t allowed at this hour. Someday,
years from now, this boy
who is kicking and flailing in the exact place
you want to touch and turn,
will be a young man, at a wedding on a boat
raising his champagne glass in a toast
when a huge wave hits, washing everyone overboard.
He’ll come up coughing and spitting like he is now,
but he’ll come up like a cork,
alive. So your moment
of impatience must bow in service to a larger story,
because if something is in your way it is
going your way, the way
of all beings; toward darkness, towards light. 

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