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The Layers and the Litter

I was struck and inspired by a homily our Reverend Sue Browning gave recently. I am a knowledge seeker and a student of thoughts and actions, choices and acknowledgements. She mentioned this poem called The Layers by Stanley Kunitz and I was intrigued.

A thoughtful piece about looking for ourselves, our good moments, our bad moments in the time that has passed and the anticipated time of the future. Choosing how to be with it. Be with our lives and our choices. How to judge them, share them,  keep them, and let them go.

The Layers

By Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,

some of them my own,

and I am not who I was,

though some principle of being

abides, from which I struggle

not to stray.

When I look behind,

as I am compelled to look

before I can gather strength

to proceed on my journey,

I see the milestones dwindling

toward the horizon

and the slow fires trailing

from the abandoned camp-sites,

over which scavenger angels

wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe

out of my true affections,

and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled

to its feast of losses?

In a rising wind

the manic dust of my friends,

those who fell along the way,

bitterly stings my face.

Yet I turn, I turn,

exulting somewhat,

with my will intact to go

wherever I need to go,

and every stone on the road

precious to me.

In my darkest night,

when the moon was covered

and I roamed through wreckage,

a nimbus-clouded voice

directed me:

Live in the layers,

not on the litter.”

Though I lack the art

to decipher it,

no doubt the next chapter

in my book of transformations

is already written.

I am not done with my changes.

 

trees from Layers and litter on Shalavee.com

This 70 something man summarized what I would hope I could say at his age too. And thus maybe I can learn to let go sooner with his help.

And Coming Soon, the video walk through of my newly rearranged downstairs!

You’ve asked for it and you’re gonna get it. It’ll be any day now so keep reading!

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3 Responses to “The Layers and the Litter”

  1. Shannon says:

    Amen!! Layers not litter. Get weighted down by the garbage, don’t we? I am keeping this poem.

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