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A good poem for Thanksgiving week

November 22, 2011

…during which many of us gird our loins to cope with difficult friends, difficult family members, difficult ex-family members, difficult not-one’s-own-family members, and the difficult exes of family members and friends.  This has the great virtue of being short enough to memorize; you can chant it like a mantra while hiding in the kitchen doing the supper dishes, if necessary.


Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit,
bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.

–Miller Williams

(I’d never heard of Miller Williams.  For more about him, click here.)

(Breaking news, courtesy of commenter Jen:  He’s Lucinda Williams’s father!  I’ll be damned.  I am an utter ignoramus.)

8 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2011 6:36 pm

    Love this. I must take it to heart. Works for so many holidays!
    xox, Reggie

  2. irretrievablybroken permalink*
    November 22, 2011 7:48 pm

    Reggie, darling! What a thrill. Yes, it’s a very calming poem indeed. I’d rather have you and Boy by my side at all times, but the poem will have to do. Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. IsabelleAnne permalink
    November 22, 2011 7:54 pm

    Compassion: A peaceful place to keep one’s focus everyday. Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem.

  4. jen permalink
    November 22, 2011 11:15 pm

    Lucinda Williams’ dad! (right?) thanks for the poem. and happy Thanksgiving.

    • irretrievablybroken permalink*
      November 22, 2011 11:48 pm

      Is that right? I’m a complete moron for not knowing who he was. On the other hand, it’s awfully amazing to find new writers one had never heard of. I plucked this from a friend’s link on her Facebook page, of all things.

  5. November 24, 2011 12:53 pm

    Lovely poem, and sums up eloquently a sentiment I try to keep in mind every day.

    I’m relaxing a bit while we wait for friends to join us in a couple of hours, warm sleepy dog next to me on the couch, turkey in the oven…. A pretty nice Thanksgiving! Hope you enjoy yours as well.

  6. youngest wren of nine permalink
    December 10, 2011 10:34 am

    Aaargh! Not that poem – not that poem AGAIN. I guess it just means that I should investigate RSS feeds for the iPad instead of hopefully clicking away at your site and finding: that poem. Again. (And wondering, again, if this marks the first instance of the word “cynicism” in recorded poetry. And why is that?)

    Anyway. I miss you. I wish you would start posting again. I wish you had gotten that job at your son’s school — I saw you there. I’m sorry about the demise of your Babble blog which I found both moving and quite instructive (bathmats! In my mind, bathmats are now inextricably linked to divorce, and it’s all your doing). And I’ve been wanting to tell you that we taught ourselves to play Hearts this summer (thank you, Klutz Press, and thank heavens for 14-year-old teenagers who are better at reading instructions than I am), and that we had a blast. Also, I still want to know what your misgivings about the Goon Squad book were. And lastly, I don’t think you should tell your Steve Jobs story because if you have been telling it at a million dinner parties, there’s a good likelihood that telling it here would blow your cover. So don’t do it — but do tell us some other stories. Soon?

  7. Apple permalink
    December 14, 2011 9:55 pm

    Please come back. I miss you.

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