A while back, I read a short meditation by Henri Nouwen which shared about the virtue of flexibility in the image of reeds. Reeds have the ability to bend amid their windy surroundings. In contrast, a strong, firm tree trunk is unyielding to high winds often causing a tree to become uprooted when a storm emerges. Probably because I struggle with flexibility, this image has stayed with me challenging my pliancy. As life would have it, I regularly pass a field of reeds on my daily walks. Following is a poem on this very idea:
their honey-colored welcome
lost to the gleaming sprawl of ocean,
the expansive lake waters,
the damp marsh filled with life.
Their veiled presence is no fault of their own.
Truthfully — they aren’t much to look at. There’s —
no flourish of bright pink at their tip,
no distinct smell to a breezing passerby,
no fruit to be eaten from their growth.
Yet, when one pauses
long enough to be with the ordinary,
to practice vigilance with the unadorned,
wisdom arises from unexpected places
bubbling extraordinary gifts.
Each reed, a woodsy stalk, a thin prayer,
together a field of gold playing
a mystical melody for ears that hear.
Grounded in Mother Earth’s
drenched soil, love is their foundation.
When the storm gusts harsh, the reeds do not fear.
They breeze to the left, to the right,
they move with the wind not against it,
their roots firm while their body bends,
their roots firm while their body bends.
Can I be this same way?
Can I learn to be a reed in a blustery world?
Can my roots be grounded in love,
my body bending with the winds not against them?
My body bending with the winds not against them?
I am skeptical.
But, i will try.