Kindness

As a therapist I use many different ways to support my clients to give voice to their stories. My personal love of poetry allows me to use a creative model that can help open up alternative avenues for conversation. The use of poetry for therapeutic purposes goes back many years with the use of imagery and metaphor helping to give clients a voice to emotional undertones that would other wise be too hard to put into words. I find the abstract nature of  poetry sometimes has a way of making it easier to take a closer look at painful experiences, which might feel too overwhelming to approach in a direct, literal manner. Poetry, just like music, drama and dance has the unique ability to touch people very deeply and can be very helpful to those who can find the more traditional talk therapy threatening. Whether it be reading a poem that resonates with them in some way or writing their own poem, for some, this can feel an easier way to express themselves and to find their voice than speaking directly to me about their feelings and thoughts.

Below I share with you one of my favourite poems written by Naomi Shihab Nye a contemporary poet of American Palestinian background.

Kindness

Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth. What you held in your hand, what you counted and carefully saved, all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness. How you ride and ride thinking the bus will never stop, the passengers eating maize and chicken will stare out the window forever.

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 everywhere like a shadow or a friend.

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