the human condition

by michelle on January 4, 2012

Poet and teacher David Whyte says that the human heart can’t believe how much pain and suffering there is in this life. And that after a great loss, something in us says, if this is the way the game is played, then I’m not playing.

I would add to that the shock of the pain we cause others. How humbling and difficult it is to hold, to own the fact that inevitably, and sometimes unbeknownst to us, we hurt other people.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this pain lately. Certainly the hurts of the past year, but also memories and images from long ago.

How much pain and suffering there is in this life.

Since the poets say it best, here are two that speak to my heart. The first by Wendell Berry:

A Warning to My Readers

Do not think me gentle
because I speak in praise
of gentleness, or elegant
because I honor the grace
that keeps this world. I am
a man crude as any,
gross of speech, intolerant,
stubborn, angry, full
of fits and furies. That I
may have spoken well
at times, is not natural.
A wonder is what it is.


And the second from Robert Bly:

Wounding Others

Well I do it, and it’s done.
And it can’t be taken back.
There’s a wound in my chest
Where I wounded others.

But it will knit, or heal, in time.
That’s what you say.
And some that I wounded
Claim: “I am the better for it.”

Was it truth-telling or
A thin man with a knife?
The wound will close, or heal
In time. That’s what you say.


As I continue to meditate on the human condition of hurts as well as joys, I send into the new year the following Buddhist prayer of forgiveness:

If I have harmed anyone in any way
either knowingly or unknowingly
through my own confusions
I ask their forgiveness.

If anyone has harmed me in any way
either knowingly or unknowingly
through their own confusions
I forgive them.

And if there is a situation
I am not yet ready to forgive
I forgive myself for that.

For all the ways that I harm myself,
negate, doubt, belittle myself,
judge or be unkind to myself
through my own confusions
I forgive myself.


And so it is.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Denice January 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm

and so it is…


Amy January 4, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Love that last blessing so much. xo


Brittany January 5, 2012 at 12:03 am

Beautiful, Michelle.


Geanette January 5, 2012 at 1:34 am

Forgiving… Especially ourselves is the hardest of all.

I love your open honesty!!



Mel January 5, 2012 at 8:37 am

‘A wonder is what it is.’

Oh my. Thank you for all of these. xo


Madeleine January 5, 2012 at 10:13 am

Beautiful. Thank you.


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