Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

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Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

(c) Naomi Shihab Nye

From Words Under the Words: Selected Poems

* Describe the desolate landscape between regions of kindness. What does it look and feel like? How do you recognize it? When do you go there?

*What sorrows do you carry? Write a poem that links your sorrows with the ways in which they have opened your heart.

*Spend  time looking deeply at a photo of a refugee. Write about their journey from their perspective. What kind of courage did it take to flee their homelands? What prompted them to leave? What do they feel having arrived at their destination? Allow your imagination to "catch the thread" of their sorrows and their experiences.