Willfulness September 21, 2015


In November, Sounds True will publish a new, expanded edition of Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, which gathers twenty-eight years of my writing and teaching about suffering, healing, and wholeness, including thirty-nine new poems and prose pieces not yet published. One of the great transforming passages in my life was having cancer in my mid-thirties. This experience unraveled the way I see the world and made me a student of all spiritual paths. With a steadfast belief in our aliveness, I hope what’s in this book will help you meet the transformation that waits in however you’re being forged. The following piece is an excerpt from the book.



(for Nur)


To inhale

enough of the world

when you’re told

you have cancer

so the dark fruit

never seems larger

than your orbit.


To do what you

have never done

to stay in the

current of life.


To fly 1000 miles

to meet someone

you dreamt

might help.


To pray in tongues

you’ve dismissed.


To think in ways

others distrust.


To use money

like a shovel

to dig

for time.


To cross

the grasslands

between us with

a tongue like

a machete



a path.


To weep

when the pain

won’t stop.


To breathe slowly

when the weeping

won’t stop.


To insist

that friends

don’t pamper you

or look at you

as sentenced

or contagious.


To slap the thought

from their eyes

with your heart.


To climb the days

like mountains

for moments

like summits


where the light

spreads your face

and the constant

wind makes you forget

the pains in

getting there.


To stand as tall

as the weight

you are bearing

will allow.


To rely

on your spirit

which waits within

like a thoroughbred

for the heel

of your will

in its ribs.


To feel

the vastness

of night

and know

you still

have love

to fill it.


To accept

you can snuff

in a gust, but

to stay devoted

to the art

of flicker.



A Question to Walk With: In conversation with a loved one or friend, describe someone you know who is both gentle and strong.

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