Impossibility and Grace

My working knowledge of poetry would fit inside the period at the end of this sentence. But, recently, when I heard someone sing the praises of a book called Ten Poems to Change Your Life I was intrigued. So, I requested it from my local library, and I am savoring it. Of course, some of the poems speak to me more than others, but I’m hugely enjoying the thoughtful deconstruction given by the book’s author, Roger Housden.

Last Saturday, during a failed nap attempt, I opened the book to the poem “Zero Circle” by Rumi, the 13th Century Turkish poet. The following stanza and Housden’s commentary so perfectly summed up my chemo experience thus far that I felt compelled to post it. From now on, if anyone asks me what chemo feels like, I will point them to this poem.

Be helpless, dumbfounded,

Unable to say yes or no,

Then a stretcher will come from grace

to gather us up.

Housden writes:

When we fall utterly, something gathers us up. But our falling must be without reservation, without expectation, without hope, though not hopeless. You can’t plan for that kind of falling. When you abandon yourself utterly to life, the river will flow and the log jam will free. Impossible is another word for grace. Who would have thought it, life takes another turn, and you are gathered up into a whole different way of seeing and being.

You are, I am, that we can be sure of, and only that. Falling without either inflation or false humility into our own light.