Sunday, September 02, 2012

The Kindness Chronicles

the kindness chronicles
Kindness - by Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
Patti Digh made me aware of this poem. Patti and her husband John are going through a terrible thing right now. Read about it here.

And remind yourself, like I remind myself...try to be kind. to everyone. always.


  1. Jane

    What a powerful poem. Thanks for sharing it.

    Marlene (from Alaska - we met last week at Chicago CREATE)

  2. Oh dear yes! Brought tears to my eyes.

  3. so lovely and thought provoking. thanks for sharing!

  4. Beautiful poem. Thank you for posting it.

  5. Naomi Shihab Nye is one of my favorites! What a great poem!!

    Oh dear - I just read Patti Digh's blog. ;-( Since you and I were together, I went back and found Lesley Riley's interviews. I relistened to yours, and then I listened to Patti's. I was instantly a fan! I'm so sorry to hear about her husband, and hope and pray for a positive outcome. I'm sure you are great support for her right now.


  6. Jane, so glad you are continuing with this. And I'm so sorry to hear about your friend Patti and her husband. Beautiful poem.
    I've been trying to share things from my garden with neighbors and other folks and notice others are doing the same. It's so nice to go into the teachers lounge and see a plate of tomatoes or limes that are being offered. I have gotten many lemons from my neighbor Denise. Another kindness I have been aware of: people who let you into traffic. I've been trying to be considerate of other drivers in this way and I realize that the little things like that make you feel so good, especially when they are acknowledged with a smile or wave. This is really little, but I have tried to smile and wave back at the newspaper hawkers on the corner (I realize they are being helped by a rehab program) I have been doing the same for the people who have what I consider an awful job of spinning signs to draw business for a store. They try to be friendly and probably get ignored by most people, so I'm trying to at least acknowledge some of them when I can. I hope to continue having my high school students write about their Kindness Chronicles this year. This week we will be talking about peace and kindness within ourselves as we begin our "Pinwheels for Peace" project.


Thanks so much for visiting!

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