“Love after Love” —from Collected Poems 1948–1984 by Derek Walcott
The time will come when with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror, and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
And say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart To itself, to the stranger who has loved you
All your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your own image from the mirror,
Sit. Feast on your life.
The Spirit’s Call
I heard this poem many years ago while on retreat in Maho Bay in the Virgin Islands. Jon Kabat- Zinn was one of the presenters at the retreat and he opened with this poem. I was taken by its elegance in describing exactly what I was feeling at that time on my personal journey. I appreciated the poem’s emphasis on the welcome home and not on the time spent away.
The poem invoked feelings of warmth and safety in me and I was intrigued by the idea of coming home to myself. I had felt disconnected from my life for a long time but I had never assimilated the idea that energetically I had left. This poem opened that awareness for me. I was enamored by the thought of coming home to myself and even though years had passed since my spirit felt connected to my physical, mental, and emotional body, my spirit still held that space for me.
This author understood me and described my journey perfectly. The poem also gave me hope that all paths, well marked or otherwise, guide us home if we let them. Our job then becomes an exercise in deep listening so we can heed the call when the Spirit beckons us home.
At the time of the retreat, I had recently started a daily meditation practice and was experiencing emotions that I didn’t recognize as my own. They were compassionate and generous feelings, very different than the hyper-critical, mean-spirited, short-tempered mind I had managed for so long.
My meditation was a simple practice, no more than three to five minutes a day. I did this every day and dedicated myself to it. This was a sacred time that I spent with a part of myself that I had overlooked for so long. I started to experience gentle soothing, supportive feelings and they were coming from inside me, this was my spirit’s call. And the more time I spent in meditation the more I wooed the spirit home. The kinship grew between me and my spirit and small step by small step I began to trust my inner home again.
This tenderness was a welcomed break. The compassion reconnected me to a part of myself that I put away a long time ago. I just didn’t feel worthy enough to embrace the compassionate messages of my spirit, even though it never lost hope in me.
What this poem taught me was that even when we don’t feel worthy of love our spirit holds that space for us. Like a longtime friend that believes in you, prays for you, and holds you until you find the strength to stand on your own again.
Building a power base of self-care will help you secure a safe inner environment. It will create a peaceful haven for your Spirit to arrive in when life feels fragile. It will polish the mirror of your life, and soon you will recognize the person gazing back at you, as you.
There is no need to hide anymore, no more secrets to protect, you are deserving of all the wonder that will unfold. Feast on this wonder, your life depends on it.
If any of these thoughts stir something inside of you and you would like to share your thoughts or questions, please reach out . . . I love this conversation! Sarah@SarahBrassard.com