If They Come in the Night - The Poem That Changed My Perspective

If They Come In The Night – The Poem That Changed My Perspective

by Lindsay on May 9, 2012

in Attitude, Inspiration, Kindness, Spirituality

I said I like my life. If I have to give it back, if they take it from me, 
let me only not feel I wasted any, let me not feel I forgot
 
to love anyone I meant to love, that I forgot to give
 
what I held in my hands, that I forgot
 
to do some little piece of the work that
 
wanted to come through.

Marge Piercy excerpted from If They Come in the Night

From the day I first read these words, they imprinted themselves on my brain and heart. Those words remind me of a quote that the Hospice I work for often uses: “Add life to your days, not days to your life.”

Sun and moonshine, starshine,
the muted light off the waters
of the bay at night, the white
light of the fog stealing in,
the first spears of morning
touching a face
I love. We all lose
everything. We lose
ourselves. We are lost.

No matter who we are, what color our skin is, what we’ve endured, what kind of childhood we had; no matter what we’ve accomplished or haven’t done, we all share two experiences: birth and death. Nothing is permanent in the physical world.  Mostly…

Only what we manage to do
lasts, what love sculpts from us

There are plenty of times when I’ve needed to see these words: like when I felt the dark parts of life residing heavily on my chest, looming just above my head, trying to make their home in every cell of my being. They also help me remember what is important – about life, love and gratitude.  Only what I do will last – what kind of love I’m sculpting and leaving on the hearts of those I share this journey with.

Do you have a favorite poem, quote, book or saying that changed the way you view life? Share it with me in the comments! 

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Ängry umlÄut May 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm

“you are better than no one else…and no one is better than you” :)
Also “never assume what someone else is thinking/how they will react. No matter how well you (think) you know them. Chances are you will be wrong and or underestimating them. And..you miss out on too much when you do this”.

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Lindsay May 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I love those ones, too. Hey – did you take the personality test (Meyers Briggs)?

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Julie | A Clear Sign May 9, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Oh that is lovely!

I have many, but I think the biggest impact would probably be the P.G. Wodehouse books (Jeeves and Wooster). They brought me into people’s lives and minds with such hilarity – and I was such a serious little child – that it made me look forward to being an adult and seeing the world through different eyes.

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Lindsay May 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I’ve never read those books, but you make me wish I had! My niece is a pretty serious kid and she’s 8 years old. Do you think she’d like them? I’m always on the hunt for good books for her. She’s a book worm!

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Julie | A Clear Sign May 10, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Actually they are for adults. Eight is too young to get it. Get thee to a library post haste!

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Julie | A Clear Sign May 10, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Oh and I have about a million suggestions for 8 year olds since my bookworm is 7. Has she tried Lynne Jonell’s “Emmy” series (I think there are 3 or 4 books, like “Emmy and The Home For Troubled Girls”)?

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Lindsay May 11, 2012 at 7:25 am

GREAT suggestion. I just bought them on Amazon for her. She just finished the Lemony Snickett series so this is perfect timing. I am going to check out the other books for myself, too. Thanks for these!

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Melissa May 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm

“The Invitation” By Oriah Mountain Dreamer – completely changed my adult view of relationships. It changed me, and for the first time in my life I knew exactly what, and how I was going to go for what I wanted!

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Lindsay May 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm

YES! I love that one, too. I have it printed and hanging on my fridge. <3

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Veeh Cirra May 14, 2012 at 2:00 am

Me too…the Invitation is one of my all time favorite poems…I read it daily…there is a way it pierces my heart and gives me new eyes of seeing life…

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Lindsay May 14, 2012 at 9:04 am

You’re so good with words, Vee. I love the way you described how you feel when you read The Invitation. <3

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Andrea Friedmann May 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm

There are so many. Poetry whispers to my soul. Thank you for this post, for reminding me to give thanks for poetry!

Max Ehrman’s A Prayer is one of my favorites, and I love Mary Oliver, Denise Levertov, William Stafford, John O’Donohue, Lisel Mueller, Wendell Berry and David Whyte.

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Lindsay May 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Thank you for all of these names, Andrea! I haven’t heard of quite a few of them – guess I’ll be googling lots tonight! Thanks so much for sharing.

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Heather May 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Great post. Oh, I love poetry too!! One of my favorite books is called The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry by Stephen Mitchell. This is a collection of poetry chosen from different religions and famous poets. This book introduced me to Rumi, who blows my mind!!

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

― Rumi

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

-Wayne Dyer

The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state…Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.

― James Allen, As a Man Thinketh (An awesome book)

Favorite poets from long ago: James Kavanaugh, Leo Buscaglia, Hugh Prather and Merrit Malloy.

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Lindsay May 11, 2012 at 7:24 am

Heather some of the quotes you shared are among my favorites, too! I haven’t ever read the James Allen one, but I LOVE it! Might share that one on FB! :)

Thanks for sharing these. <3

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Karly May 11, 2012 at 11:38 am

I love quotes by American thinkers, like Emerson and Thoreau. One of my favorites is, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” It reminds me to always try and be true to myself no matter what happened in the past or what happens in the future.

P.S. While we’re on the subject of books, I remembered last week you said you enjoyed reading historical fiction. Have you ever read “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana de Rosnay? If not, I recommend it. I thought it was excellent. Also, “Girl With a Pearl Earring” by Tracey Chevalier. I’m just getting into the genre now, so I’m having fun picking out books centered around historical events I’m interested in.

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Lindsay May 12, 2012 at 7:31 am

Hi Karly!

I just finished “Sarah’s Key” about a month ago and LOVED it. I haven’t read “Girl With a Pearl Earring yet” – thank you for the recommendation! Have you read “Year of Wonders” by Geraldine Brooks? One of my all-time favorite historical fiction books. If you like that one, let me know and I can recommend others like it.

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Anne McCarroll May 12, 2012 at 6:22 am

Too many poems to count that mean so much- (Lit major blah blah:) )

but my current favorite quotation that stretches far for me: ‘anyone can be cool but awesome takes practice’.

It makes me laugh, it makes me think, it keeps me humble and makes me want to be the coolest chick out there!

P.s thx for the hint to write. I’m on it – rough at first but I’ll get the groove going… It takes practice :)

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Lindsay May 12, 2012 at 7:32 am

YAY! You’re writing! You are so right – it does take practice. I go back and re-read some of my early, early posts and I almost feel embarrassed. I’ve improved a lot over the past couple of years…it’s all a process! I’m gonna go check out your blog…is it bluevalkyrie4.wordpress.com?

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Anne McCarroll May 12, 2012 at 2:36 pm

That’s it!

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Cheyenne May 13, 2012 at 1:59 am

When I was a kid, prob more like a tween, one of the Sunday schedules at church had on the front page, a beautiful pic of a swan in a pond, his wings spread and the sun beams illuminating his feathers like a full body halo, and written at the bottom of it was the last sentences of “The Ugly Duckling”. “Then he rustled his feathers, curved his slender neck, and cried joyfully, from the depths of his heart, “I never dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.”” I wasnt an ugly duckling, lol, but the pic and the words struck me to my soul for some reason. I could feel the happiness, the majesticness of it. I saved that paper for years. I don’t know where it is now and I haven’t thought about it in a long, long time but maybe this was meant for me to remember. :)

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Lindsay May 14, 2012 at 9:05 am

Now THAT is a sweet story, Cheyenne! I wonder if the paper will ever turn up again? I bet it will now that you’ve talked about it!

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Becki June 22, 2012 at 6:56 pm

My favorite saying is:
People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But they will never forget the way you made them feel
Maya Angelou

After reading this many years ago, it made me take a step back. Such a true statement. I still remember how certain people have made me feel over the years, good or bad, but not what they did or said. Definitely made me want to be a better person.

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Maureen July 12, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Hi, I love this post! I think this is my first time commenting on your site (great site, by the way — I am very grateful to you for the information you share here!).

I wanted to chime in with one of the poems that changed my life. I know Mary Oliver was mentioned here a few times, so I’m sure many people know this poem, called Wild Geese (I hope it’s okay to post the whole thing — I tried picking out a few lines, but loved them all) …

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

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.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

– Mary Oliver

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Lindsay July 13, 2012 at 6:42 am

Thank you so much for sharing this, Maureen. I think it’s exactly what I needed to read right now. I’ve never read this one. <3

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