I recently came across poet David Whyte. He has Irish and English roots and a hypnotic voice that draws you in to his poems. There is a segment in the Waking Up meditation app where he shares some of his work. He writes words that really cut you open and change the way you see things. Things you thought you knew seem new again.
In The Bell and the Blackbird, he recalls an old Irish story of a monk standing by the monastary in early morning and hearing the bell ring, calling him to his work of prayer. The monk thinks this is the most beautiful sound. He turns to go but then hears the blackbird singing in the forest and he thinks this is the most beautiful sound. We don’t know what sound the monk chooses to follow, but he represents us all. Where will we go next on our journey? We have many compelling options.
When we are young, we face choices every day about homework to do, courses to take, post-secondary decisions to make. Then when we get older, sometimes we get into a lane and remain there, not aware of paths that merge with new opportunities. Or not wanting to get off the road we know so well.
But if we remain true to that place deep inside that knows what lights us up, and fan that flame in the current moment, while remaining open to new doors that may appear, we will find our way. As David wrote in a poem about driving through Connemara, Ireland, “Seeing at last the star you didn’t know you were following.”
The world is waiting for all we have to offer. Becoming who we were meant to be, is as important as arriving. The timing is not on our clock.
In his poem Everything is Waiting for You he writes,
“The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.”
I’ll close with his poem, The Bell and the Blackbird…
of a bell
or a blackbird
from a corner
into this life
or inviting you
to one that waits.
either way wants you
to be nothing
but that self that
is no self at all,
wants you to walk
to the place
where you find
you already know
how to give
every last thing
that is also
the meeting itself,
you have always
carried with you
as you walk
by every corner
of the world