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On Joy and Sorrow [1] 

Khalil Gibran  1883-1931

 Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.  

And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. 

And how else can it be? 

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. 

Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven? 

And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? 

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. 

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. 

Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater." 

But I say unto you, they are inseparable. 

Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. 

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy. 

Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced. 

When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall. 


No More Leaving [2]

Hafiz 1320-1389



Some point

Your relationship

With God


Become like this:


Next time you meet Him in the forest

Or on a crowded city street


There won't be anymore




That is,


God will climb into

Your pocket.


You will simply just take







The Happy Virus [3]


I caught the happy virus last night

When I was out singing beneath the stars.

It is remarkably contagious -

So kiss me.


O my friends [4]

Mirabai 1498-1546


O my friends,

What can you tell me of Love,

Whose pathways are filled with strangeness?

When you offer the Great One your love,

At the first step your body is crushed.

Next be ready to offer your head as his seat.

Be ready to orbit his lamp like a moth giving in to the light,

To live in the deer as she runs toward the hunter’s call,

In the partridge that swallows hot coals for love of the moon,

In the fish that, kept from the sea, happily dies.

Like a bee trapped for life in the closing of the sweet flower,

Mira has offered herself to her Lord.

She says, the single Lotus will swallow you whole.


For the Raindrop [5]

Mirza Ghalib, Persian Poet, 1797-1869


For the raindrop, joy is in entering the river--

Unbearable pain becomes its own cure.


Travel far enough into sorrow, tears turn to sighing;

In this way we learn how water can die into air.


When, after heavy rain, the storm clouds disperse,

Is it not that they’ve wept themselves clear to the             end?


If you want to know the miracle, how wind can polish 

   a mirror,

Look: the shining glass grows green in spring.


It’s the rose’s unfolding, Ghalib, that creates the    desire to see--

In every color and circumstance, may the eyes be              open for what comes.



Rainer Maria Rilke 1875-1926 [6]

Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29


Quiet friend who has come so far,

feel how your breathing 

widens the space around you.  

Let this darkness be a bell tower

and you the bell. As you ring,


what batters you becomes your strength.

Move back and forth into the change.

What is it like, such intensity of pain?

If the drink is better, turn yourself to wine.


In this uncontainable night,

be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,

the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,

Say to the silent earth: I flow.

To the rushing water, speak: I am.


Not Altogether Lost [7]

--Rabindranath Tagore


            I know that this life, missing its ripeness in love, is not altogether lost.


            I know that the flowers that fade in the dawn, the streams that strayed in the desert, are not altogether lost.


            I know that whatever lags behind, in this life laden with slowness, is not altogether lost.


            I know that my dreams that are still unfulfilled, and my melodies still unstruck, are clinging to Your lute strings, and they are not altogether lost.

Author's commentary 

   for Maya Angelou: 

           In our current health care world, burn-out and stress can be very real. Strengthening our spirit before we even need care may aid well-being when tough times arise. If a caregiver is rough or unkind when we are weak, defenseless and vulnerable, this can be hard to endure. Forgiveness may not come easily. 

           By dwelling on a few lines of poetry, repeating them silently over and over, we may be able to say with Maya Angelou: “…you may trod me in the very dirt./but still, like dust, I’ll rise…” But still, like dust my spirit rises. My body, my emotions may hurt and feel like crying, but still, like dust, my spirit rises, dances and is free to sing.

Maya Angelou [8]

Still I Rise 


“You may write me down in history/

with your bitter, twisted lies./

you may trod me in the very dirt./

but still, like dust, I’ll rise…”


My Friend [9]

--Rabindranath Tagore


I have come to You to take Your touch before I begin my day.


Let Your eyes rest upon my eyes for a while.


Let me take to my work the assurance of Your comradeship, my Friend.


Fill my mind with Your music to last through the desert of noise.


Let Your love’s sunshine kiss the peaks of my thoughts and linger in my life’s valley where the harvest ripens.


[1] Gibran. This poem is in the public domain

[2] Hafiz, The Gift, trans. Daniel Ladinsky

[3] Hafiz, The Subject Tonight Is Love, trans. Daniel Ladinsky

[4] Mirabai. Risking Everything, ed. Roger Housden, Pp 123, trans. Jane Hirshfield

[5] Ghalib, Risking Everything, ed. Roger Housden, pp 82, Ed Jane Hirshfield, Harmony Books, NY, 2003

[6] Rilke, Trans. Anita Barrows & Joanna Macy

[7] Prayers of Rabindranath Tagore, The Heart of God, pp 23, Ed Herbert F. Vetter, Tuttle Pub, Vermont, 1997 

[8] From “Still I Rise” from AND STILL I RISE by Maya Angelou, copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Used by permission of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

[9] Rabindranath Tagore, pp 18 see [7] above.

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