Don’t ever think compassion is weak. Compassion is about strength. ~ Joan Halifax
I stood before the bars of Fate
And bowed my head disconsolate;
So high they seemed, so fierce their frown.
I thought no hand could break them down.
Beyond them I could hear the songs
Of valiant men who marched in throngs;
And joyful women, fair and free,
Looked back and waved their hands to me.
I did not cry “Too late! too late!”
Or strive to rise, or rail at Fate,
Or pray to God. My coward heart,
Contented, played its foolish part.
So still I sat, the tireless bee
Sped o’er my head, with scorn for me,
And birds who build their nests in air
Beheld me, as I were not there.
From twig to twig, before my face,
The spiders wove their curious lace,
As they a curtain fine would see
Between the hindering bars and me.
Then, sudden change! I heard the call
Of wind and wave and waterfall;
From heaven above and earth below
A clear command—”ARISE AND GO!”
I upward sprang in all my strength,
And stretched my eager hands at length
To break the bars—no bars were there;
My fingers fell through empty air!
Ellen M.H. Gates
It Takes Courage
It takes strength to be firm, it takes courage to be gentle.
It takes strength to conquer, it takes courage to surrender.
It takes strength to be certain, it takes courage to have doubt.
It takes strength to fit in, it takes courage to stand out.
It takes strength to feel a friend’s pain, it takes courage to feel your own pain.
It takes strength to endure abuse, it takes courage to stop it.
It takes strength to stand alone, it takes courage to lean on another.
It takes strength to love, it takes courage to be loved.
It takes strength to survive, it takes courage to live.
Courage is the strength to stand up
When it’s easier to fall down and lose hold.
It is the conviction to explore new horizons
When it’s easier to believe what we’ve been told.
Courage is the desire to maintain our integrity
When it’s easier to look the other way.
It is feeling happy and alive, and moving forward
When it’s easier to feel sorry for ourselves and stay.
Courage is the will to shape our world
When it’s easier to let someone else do it for us.
It is the recognition that none of us are perfect
When it’s easier to criticize others and fuss.
Courage is the power to step forward and lead
When it’s easier to follow the crowd; their pleas resound.
It is the spirit that places you on top of the mountain
When it’s easier to never leave the ground.
The foundation of courage is solid,
The rock that doesn’t roll.
Courage is the freedom
Of our mind, body, and soul!
M told me she could see me becoming stronger each day. She asked me to write four letters to Babe. I was to write each letter in the present tense as if Babe were still alive. I frequently paused while I wrote these letters to compose myself. It was a very emotional experience, but, it was a liberating experience that strengthened my will to go on. Here is an excerpt from my love letter to Babe in Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again:
You’re my first thought when I awaken and the last thought before I fall asleep. When I awaken in the middle of the night and I whisper, “Babe, I love you. I’ll love you forever.” Did you know, I trace the sign of the cross on your shoulder while you are sleeping? I do it every time I wake up in the night. When I trace it, I ask God to bless you and watch over you. The first words you utter after you open your eyes are, “I love you, Bun.” I touch you and say, “I love you, too.”
Each day, your joy of life lights a fire within me. When you open your eyes and turn to me in bed, I see the sparks of joy, life, and love. I know in that moment all is right, all is good, and it will be a great day. You ignite the flames of love, hope, and joy within me. You teach me to lighten up, have fun, and enjoy life’s gifts. “It’s not all serious and it’s not all work,” you tell me.”
Ordering information for the paperback or ebook version of Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again may be found at https://dancingalone530.com/dancing-alone/
Excerpt From: Dancing Alone: Learning to Live Again by Ray Calabrese. This material is protected by copyright
To keep my health!
To do my work!
To see to it I grow and gain and give!
Never to look behind me for an hour!
To wait in weakness, and to walk in power;
But always fronting onward to the light,
Always and always facing towards the right.
Robbed, starved, defeated, fallen, wide astray—
On, with what strength I have!
Back to the way!
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea,
Yet never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
– Emily Dickinson