It was a sunny day

and I went to the park

and sat on a bench. I was

one of many coming out

from under our rocks

to warm and lengthen.

He was two benches down,

a gentle older man

staring off into the place

between things, beyond

any simple past, staring

into the beginning or the end,

it was hard to say.

When he came up

our eyes met

and he knew I’d seen him

journey there and back.

There was no point in looking away.

And so, he shuffled over

and sat beside me. The sun

moved behind the one cloud

and he finally said

in half a quiver, “How

can we go there together?”

I searched my small mind

for an answer. At this,

he looked away and the sun came out

and I realized this is what the lonely

sages of China were talking about,

what the moon has whispered

before turning full for centuries,

what dancers leap for, what violinists

dream after fevering their last note.

But I was awkward and unsure.

He stared, as if to search my will,

and after several minutes,

he just patted my knee

and left.

I watched him

darken and brighten in the sun,

and vowed to look

in the folds of every cry

for a way through,

and hope someday

to meet him there.

A Question to Walk With: Discuss with a friend the gentle man’s question, “How can we go there together?”

Recently, Atria published my new book, The One Life We’re Given: Finding the Wisdom that Waits in Your Heart. To make the most of being here, we’re required to learn when to try and when to let go. This is our initiation into grace. The gift and practice of being human centers on the effort to restore what matters and, when in trouble, to make good use of our heart. No one quite knows how to do this, but learn it we must. There is no other way. By fully living the one life we’re given, we’re led to the wisdom that waits in our heart. The above piece is an excerpt from the book.

*photo credit:

Originally published at on October 10, 2016.

Originally published at