Dedicated to the memory of Karen Silkwood and Eliot Gralla
“From too much love of living,
Hope and desire set free,
Even the weariest river
Winds somewhere to the sea—“
But we have only begun
To love the earth.
We have only begun
To imagine the fullness of life.
How could we tire of hope?
— so much is in bud.
How can desire fail?
— we have only begun
to imagine justice and mercy,
only begun to envision
how it might be
to live as siblings with beast and flower,
not as oppressors.
Surely our river
cannot already be hastening
into the sea of nonbeing?
Surely it cannot
drag, in the silt,
all that is innocent?
Not yet, not yet—
there is too much broken
that must be mended,
too much hurt we have done to each other
that cannot yet be forgiven.
We have only begun to know
the power that is in us if we would join
our solitudes in the communion of struggle.
So much is unfolding that must
complete its gesture,
so much is in bud.
~ Denise Levertov ~
(Candles in Babylon)
So much is unfolding that must complete it’s gesture…
I am in a place of unfolding. The unfolding of things that are new, much of which is unseen at this time.
The unfolding also means a closing.
Why is it that grief enjoy so often go hand-in-hand?
This poem is haunting.
… We have only begun to imagine justice and mercy…
At Neighborhood, we swim in rivers where we talk about justice. And sometimes, in the river, The current threatens to pull us under. The fight for justice is real. It has faces. It has stories. It is salty with tears.
And then in the invitation to step into new arenas, the questions remain, hanging in the air.
Not yet, not yet–there is too much Broken that must be mended.
Source: Levertov, Denise. “Beginners” from Candles in Babylon. New York: New Directions, 1982.
From the Lenten Poetry Companion, Mystic Activists, Neighborhood Ministries.