Later, when I stood in front of an altar waving incense, I would remember standing in front of the bar at Dante’s waving cigarette smoke out of my face, and the exact same feeling of tenderness would wash over me, because the people in both places were so much alike. We were all seeking company, meaning, solace, self-forgetfulness. Whether we found those things or not, it was the seeking that led us to find each other in the cloud even when we had nothing else in common. Sometimes I wondered if it even mattered if our communion cups were filled with consecrated wine or draft beer, as long as we bent over them long enough to recognize each other as kin.
Flat outstretched upon a mound
Of earth I lie; I press my ear
Against its surface and I hear
Far off and deep, the measured sound
Of heart that beats within the ground.
And with it pounds in harmony
The swift, familiar heart in me.
They pulse as one, together swell,
Together fall; I cannot tell
My sound from earth’s, for I am part
Of rhythmic, universal heart.
Whereas during those months of separation time had never gone quickly enough for their liking and they were wanting to speed its flight, now that they were in sight of the town they would have liked to slow it down and hold each moment in suspense, once the breaks went on and the train was entering the station. For the sensation, confused perhaps, but none the less poignant for that, of all those days and weeks and months of life lost to their love made them vaguely feel they were entitled to some compensation; this present hour of joy should run at half the speed of those long hours of waiting.
I felt part of a group for the first time in my life. Not a family, just a group of people who liked being together, who sat as we did, leaning towards each other, leaving just the right amount of space in between, whose thoughts and words flowed easily and naturally, whose voices and accents were so different from each other and yet mingled in harmony as though in a song.
―Indu Muralidharan, The Reengineers
Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.
I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring—
afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy
in the raw wind of the new world.
―Louise Glück, Poems 1962-2012
I would like to hold your hand as it holds this green leaf, yellowed, that fell early from its tree, this Autumn. And I would like to imagine that it feels your careful care, for your eyes are warmed by your heart, and I would let you sadly nestle into me as a bird folds into its nest, resigning itself to a storm. For my heart is as large as a city, and it glows with the fire that, with the right mischievous love, shall serve to inspire thousands upon thousands to inspire thousands upon thousands.
―Waylon Lewis, Things I Would Like To Do With You
When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we’d be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing.
―Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart
ANDE-2 Spheres CASTOR (left) and POLLUX (right), via Nasa (Public Domain)
Compassion- which means, literally, “to suffer with”- is the way to the truth that we are most ourselves, not when we differ from others, but when we are the same. Indeed the main spiritual question is not, “What difference do you make?” but “What do you have in common?” It is not “excelling” but “serving” that makes us most human. It is not proving ourselves to be better than others but confessing to be just like others that is the way to healing and reconciliation.