Before we left Seattle we had dinners with most of our closest friends. We went house to house for dinner and conversation. It was kind of hard sometimes but mostly really fun, a break from packing-and-planning, and a reminder of what wonderful friends we have!
After one of these dinners our friend Eebie asked for everyone’s attention so she could read a poem. I love this about Eebie – when we go to dinner at her house, she will often start dinner with a poem. So even though I am not a poetry expert, it gives me a chance to appreciate this artform from someone who knows.
She said she wanted to give us a bon voyage gift but knew we couldn’t take anything else with us, so this poem has been tucked into my backpack ever since. I can say that I already relate to some of the passages in a different way than I did just two months ago.
For the Traveler
Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.
New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.
When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:
How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.
A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.
~ John O’Donohue, ‘To Bless the Space Between Us‘
Anner, this is such a beautiful and wise poem. I have loved John O’Donohue’s words for a long time and have two of his books. You may know that he was an Irish priest who died a few years ago when he was only 50 .
Thank you for sharing this along with your insights .
Hi Grace, honestly, I had never heard of John O’Donohue before this poem. What a nice way to be introduced.
“When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way”
So true. Thanks for sharing this.
We have already lived this line over and over again in just this short time. It really does speak loudly, doesn’t it?
How nice and what a thoughtful gift.
What a lovely poem. What wonderful thoughts for travel. It spoke to me too–it is applicable to the grief journey.
Thanks Andrea. You have given me a whole new perspective on this poem.