Starting Point

A Care Package for Care Givers

An offering of poetry, podcasts, and meditations. (Illustration by Jocelyn Tsaih)

Poetry Unbound

In Gratitude

In this Poetry Unbound episode, host Pádraig Ó Tuama reads Leanne O’Sullivan’s poem, “Leaving Early,” and reflects on the various shapes of presence and love manifest by those caring for bodies and spirits in hospitals and clinics and ambulances. “Their life and their story is being wrapped into a story of care and they, too, deserve the same care that they’re giving.” Listen here.

An excerpt of Krista Tippett’s beloved conversation with Dr. Remen, a pioneer in the “human agenda” in medicine. The basic qualities of the Hippocratic Oath are not scientific qualities, she says, but spiritual qualities of human response and connection: harmlessness, service, reverence for life, courage, and love. And the power to help — to be a healing presence — is not dependent on the power to cure. “We burn out not because we don’t care, but because we don’t grieve.”

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Simple ways to understand our emotions, and treat ourselves kindly, amidst pandemic realities, and why loss without closure is so stressful — these are themes touched on in this personal “Living the Questions” conversation between Krista and Pauline Boss. She created the field of “ambiguous loss” within psychology and family therapy. This is a companion conversation to our longer On Being conversation with Pauline: Navigating Loss without Closure.

“When you breathe in, your mind comes back to your body. And then you become fully aware that you’re alive, that you are a miracle and everything you touch could be a miracle — the orange in your hand, the blue sky, the face of a child … And that is a miracle because you know the role that suffering plays in life. And you are not trying to run away from suffering anymore.”

— Thich Nhat Hahn, in the On Being episode “Being Peace in a World of Trauma

Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower

Quiet friend who has come so far,

feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29

Read by Joanna Macy. Translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows, reprinted here with permission.

This poem was originally read in the On Being episode “A Wild Love for the World.”

Watch a poetry film version of this on our YouTube channel.