Reteach a thing its loveliness

The poet Galway Kinnell was a writer of exquisite and moving poetry.

His poem ‘St Francis and the Sow’, which you can read in its entirety here, opens with these lines:

The bud
stands for all things,
even those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing…

This expresses so clearly a central responsibility of leaders (isn’t that all of us?), parents, friends, coaches, consultants, doctors, nurses, teachers of all kinds – to act in a way that enables the people and systems in which we work to flower from within, of self-blessing.

It is ridiculously easy to be cynical. Easy to create distance. Easy to forget the capacities that lie within us. And the easiest (and sometimes, in the moment, most self-satisfying) to pull people and projects apart with our knowing insight and sharp judgement, or with our world-weariness.

And it’s probably the hardest, and most necessary, to be someone who patiently, over time, brings about genuine flourishing by reminding us all of our most life-giving qualities – the ones we so easily forget – so they can be called into expression.

To hear Justin Wise and Lizzie Winn in conversation about this source, please visit Episode 44 of our Sunday morning practice, Turning Towards Life.

Banner image: Gilberto Olimpio / 1360040 / Unsplash