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Poetry of Transformation: “The Journey”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In everyone’s life, there is a journey difficult to undertake — daunting in every way measurable — but necessary for one’s spirit to be honored, one’s destiny to be fulfilled.

I first encountered these words of the Taoist sage Lao-Tzu during my college years. But it would take me another 4 decades to really know what it meant on the inner planes… a metaphysical journey of conscience, a quest for healing and wholeness…a point reached when you must honor and save the only life truly in your hands: your own.

This sacred test of courage and conviction resonates through every line of Mary Oliver’s poem, The Journey. A masterful reading of her poem by the British poet David Whyte is one of my favorites…and searching on YouTube, I found this homespun audio clip – where you’ll see that dogs are as entranced by his voice as I am!          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ3PC-84ImA

The Journey

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice–

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles.

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do–

determined to save

the only life you could save.

– Mary Oliver