Posted by: Ken Homer | December 17, 2008

Of Course You Can Come – by Mark Nepo

I  first read one of Mark Nepo’s Weekly Reflections back on April 11th, 2000, when a close friend forwarded it on to me. Intrigued by his writing, I signed up for his weekly mailings. I had faithfully read his words ever since – though truth be told, sometimes I save three or four up and read them all at once. Mark consistently delivers a wealth of wisdom in his poems and stories. I found myself quite touched by this one

Of Course You Can Come

Mark Nepo

When a friend’s brother-in-law passed away, her sister had a call while preparing for the funeral. It was a Jewish woman living 300 miles away who asked if she could attend the funeral. Her sister was taken aback, not by the request, but by the surprise of how far her husband’s life had reached. She said, “Of course you can come, but please, tell me why you want to?”

The Jewish woman spoke with a tremble through a thick German-Yiddish accent, “I read in his obituary that he was one of the first three soldiers to liberate Dachau at the end of the war.” There was a pause, “I was a little girl then, weighing only 28 pounds, naked and limping. I was shot in the foot for taking some water to drink.” There was another pause, “And when those three soldiers entered the camp, we were all stunned. And seeing us children, naked and starving, they took off their shirts and covered us.” Now they both fell into a deep silence. The Jewish woman continued, “I always wanted to thank them, but never knew who they were.” And so the little girl from Dachau drove 300 miles to stand at the dead soldier’s grave and to embrace her widow.

How are we to understand a story like this? Does it tell us that acts of kindness and the gratitude they engender outlast decades and oceans and continents? Does it tell us that kindness like the song of a blood red bird will be answered long after the bird has died? Does it tell us that the smallest effort to restore dignity can save a soul from degradation? Yes. Yes. And yes. Like the one bead of light, after weeks of light, that causes a flower to finally open, the bead of kindness that is compelled from us, against all reservation, will open others to themselves more than we may ever know.
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These reflections are excerpts from several books, including a new book of poems, Surviving Has Made Me Crazy, CavanKerry Press, and a new book of spiritual non-fiction, Facing the Lion, Being the Lion: Inner Courage and Where It Lives, Red Wheel/Conari Press. For more info, please visit www.MarkNepo.com .

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