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the word that is a prayer

07/10/15 1 Comment

shared by former poet laureate natasha tretheway:

What I like best about poems, beyond their sheer aesthetic pleasures, is the way that the intimacy of a single voice speaking across time and space can become a call to empathy. In this poem, the close and particular focus invites a kind of mindfulness — a way to recognize ourselves in others, linked by our common need.

The Word That Is a Prayer
Ellery Akers

One thing you know when you say it:
all over the earth people are saying it with you;
a child blurting it out as the seizures take her,
a woman reciting it on a cot in a hospital.
What if you take a cab through the Tenderloin:
at a street light, a man in a wool cap,
yarn unraveling across his face, knocks at the window;
he says, Please.
By the time you hear what he’s saying,
the light changes, the cab pulls away,
and you don’t go back, though you know
someone just prayed to you the way you pray.
Please: a word so short
it could get lost in the air
as it floats up to God like the feather it is,
knocking and knocking, and finally
falling back to earth as rain,
as pellets of ice, soaking a black branch,
collecting in drains, leaching into the ground,
and you walk in that weather every day.

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sam richards, a senior lecturer of sociology at penn state university, believes that empathy is central to his field of expertise.  in his ted talk, he puts this relationship in action by encouraging his audience to stand in an iraqi insurgent’s figurative shoes.

related:  dr. richards heads up the world in conversation project which “explores the relationships between people of different cultural and ancestral groups through small group dialogues.”  click here for more info.

a radical experiment in empathy

04/21/11 1 Comment

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