ON THE DEATH OF A YOUNG WOMAN

26 Aug

ON THE DEATH OF A YOUNG WOMAN

 

The words cry out within me,

and well up as anguish in my throat:

It is not enough!

This life is not complete…

But is it by the numbering of the years

that a life becomes complete?

I think not.

 

Nothing worth doing is completed in one lifetime.

Nothing we do can be accomplished alone.

Nothing is true or beautiful or good in one time or place only.

But I need your life to complete mine…

Yours, and a thousand others

who feel as I feel

and love as I love

and who do together what none can do alone,

And still it is not complete,

nor would I have it so.

For the truth that comes to me today or tomorrow

Is part of the truth of yesterday.

They belong together, each depends on the other.

No power can rend them apart:

Not even death.

And the beauty I have seen yesterday and today

Is part of the beauty of tomorrow.

It is a whole, it is larger than one life or two,

And other eyes will smile tomorrow

and other hearts leap for joy

to share the ecstasy of beauty discovered:

It gives me comfort to know

That before me, beauty was,

And afterwards, beauty shall be,

And new explorers will discover it as I did,

relishing each moment with pleasure too great

for one person to have to bear alone

in one lifetime.

And that which is good also goes beyond time and place…

My share in it is like a piece of a great interlocking puzzle,

A tiny corner of the whole.

Join hands then with me…

Join heart to heart…

Join anguish with anguish…

And seek good.

Good, when it is found, cannot be hoarded.

It can only be received and passed on.

That is what it is for.

That is why I am here:

to receive and to give…

Not passively like a tunnel that merely channels unchanged whatever comes;

But actively,

Receiving truth and beauty and good from others

as raw materials, as resources,

as the basic ingredients

for the gift I have to give –

Truth shared from my own experience,

Beauty revealed through me,

Good that is not mine to keep

But only mine to give away.

 

I am not complete without you.

Nothing worth doing is completed in one lifetime.

Nothing we do can be accomplished alone.

Nothing is true or beautiful or good in one time or place only.

But life is larger than I,

And love is larger.

And in that vast sea of life and love,

I am complete.

 

           ©    Margaret E. Howland

            July 22, 1976

           (with inspiration from

           some words of Reinhold Niebuhr)             

              

 

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