Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Kindness of Friends...

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 every where
like a shadow or a friend.
 Naomi Shihab Nye

Lately I have known sorrow like an old friend. A minute may pass, an hour, never as long as a day, when out of the blue, I feel a gnawing heartache, the sensation of my stomach sinking to my toes and an all-over fearfulness that makes me feel raw and skinless. It waxes and wanes, somehow manageable, other times, hardly manageable at all. I bought this mixed-media collage from a Silver Bella instructor because the words of Hafez seemed to be an antidote to my fear (and the work is so simple, yet, so incredibly lovely, with its black and white window and embroidered pastels on muslin). Essentially this piece of art says to me that God does not want me to live my life in fear, no matter how frightening the circumstances appear. FEAR-False Evidence Appearing Real, my friend, Betsy, would say. God would like me to find the joy that continues in this lifetime. For one, there is kindness. Somehow in my sorrow and loneliness, someone will do something so sweet and so kind that my sadness and fears melt away.

I bought the first piece from Colette Copeland. I have followed her blog for about a year now and love her work, which often includes collage, painting, embroidery and transfer in one piece. When my package at last arrived from Canada (amazing that Canada is just right across the Minnesota border), I didn't see that there was a surprise. Almost a half hour later, I noticed that there was a hard piece of art board behind my Hafez pieces, and on it it said...

To Suz, With Love. 

I ripped it open and turned it over and there I met "The Little God of Happy Endings." This God has a bird sitting slightly over his bald head, a head sort of like my husband's. What a perfect message. I cried. Happy tears.
There is going to be a happy ending to Jud's illness. 
This I know.
It may not be the ending I think I want, but there is going to be a happy ending.

Here is a picture of Collete and I, she looking not as pretty as she really is and me looking quite gooney with my estatic Silver Bella smile. I am in her class. I have on my riotously fun new craft apron, made by my friend, the talented Jem, and I have been creating, side by side, with my dear friend, Donna, sitting at a table where everyone is freely sharing materials, ideas and complements as easily as they breathe. 
I am so happy that my lips ache from smiling.

Just so you could see how pretty she is, I "borrowed" her avatar. I also wanted you to see what the face of a truly kind woman looked like. This is a woman who has "known sorrow as the other deepest thing" and still finds value in kindness to another who deeply needs it.

I still feel fear.  I still feel sorrow. But there is this other "thing" that keeps me going, keeps me putting my shoes on and trudging out into the world each day.
That, my friends, is kindness. 
If kindness is the currency, I am a rich woman indeed.


  1. I feel that same way about Collete. You sound so in touch with your feelings. The only way to be healthy.

    Ain't it hell though?

    I love this post Suz.

  2. the beauty of your words and feelings leave me speechless dear one....

  3. Your depth of feeling so moves me, Suz...I hope that you both will always feel enfolded in love and kindness. And I do agree, out of our hardest times and sorrows, deep compassion is born...XOXO

  4. Thinking of you today. Collete's work is beautiful...

  5. Kindness IS a kind of currency, the type you can spend and spend and spend and it just keeps sticking around in your pocket and grows and grows the more you need it.

  6. Thinking of you sweet Suz! Such a lovely post. I'm sending you and hubby tons of healing prayers and thoughts as always.


  7. Suz this is such a touching post. May you find solace in your words and in your friends. That was a very sweet gift from Colette. Prayers continue...

  8. Suz,
    As always a lovely post, so honest and raw. I do do appreciate you and pray your journey will indeed have a happy ending.

  9. beautiful beautiful post dear suz. i love the poem and all that you shared. thank you for sharing your kindness... your heart with all of us.

    blessings and hugs to you dear suz

  10. I am so deeply touched by your words. And I am fortunate that my "deep sorrow" didn't brutalize me, rather it made me more undersanding and compassionate.

    I believe that we can act from fear or act from love.

    Let's choose love.

    Always, Colette xoxo

  11. Suz, you have such a way with words. I have a lump in my throat... I pray for you often for you to have the strength you need. The poem was beautiful, and moving. Such a beautiful friend to all of us!

  12. What a wonderful post! I think so many of us who attended Silver Bella this year and was fortunate to take Colette's class, feel the same as you do! She is warm, caring, sweet and so talented! We all love calling her our friend......thank you Suz. Oh Happy Day!

  13. Everyday is filled with such value because we all only have a certain number. Be filled with the value of the day Suz, don't let fear rob you of a single precious moment. Truly, a beautiful gift, a beautiful friend. Elizabeth

  14. You express yourself so fully and beautifully, Suz...I am so sad for your aching heart. But I know--and I know that YOU know--that it WILL all be well once again. You do have friends here...even if most of us have never met.

    Keeping your both in my prayers, and wishing for more moments of joy to come to you more often...


  15. Suz,
    You are a wonderful, sweet, kind woman and I think you bring out the best in others. What a thoughtful gift from a thoughtful person.

  16. Suz,
    This is an absolutely beautiful post. How well you express fear, sorrow and then kindness. Only because you are living it out in such a graceful way, letting the sorrow in and then out and the kindness in.
    Blessings to you my sweet, sweet friend.

  17. Oh Suz...I wish I could take all the pain....fear....and scariness away from you. I wish I could carry your load for just one day to give you peace. You are deeply in my prayers. You have such immense strength.

  18. Suz ~
    This post is so beautiful in so many ways. I love the art and adore reading your words. You are such a treasure Suz and I love you all the more for it!
    Blessings Dear Heart,
    ~ Katie

  19. Dearest Suz~
    This is such a beautiful post. I so admire you for your strength and your grace.
    Sending you lots of love and prayers,

  20. gosh, suz,

    i am sending sunny thoughts your way.

    i am reading lots of wisdom here in comments from friends all over. bask in the warmth of all who are cheering you on. you are such a dear and positive force.


  21. Suz,
    This beautiful post is such a gift to all of us. I'm so sorry that your gift comes from so much pain and sorrow.

    The "Kindness" poem by Naomi Shihab Nye is amazing - I'll have to save that one. But I especially love what you say about happy endings. No question - Jud's illness will have a happy ending. I'm sure of it too. :)