blessing the boats by Lucille Clifton

Consider how often we hold ourselves and each other back from embracing the unknown. We bargain with uncertainty, convinced that we should only embark if we know that it is safe from whatever we fear. While we may wish for calm weather and smooth waters, it is important to recognize that, ultimately, we may not be able to control the external. Worse yet, we may not truly live if we expect the elements not to be working on our side.

So, what does it look like when we trust that the wind will love our back?

In blessing the boats,, Lucille Clifton offers an embodiment of prayer. The reader encounters a sending-off, of sorts. Boats disembark into the distance, and the speaker must watch them go. The piece holds the unknown in its awareness; elements that could be forceful-like water and wind-are wished to be gentle. As the speaker waves goodbye to her well-wishee, we are reminded of an important lesson:

that the freest way to let go is to do so with grace, trust, and humility.

(To hear Bill Murray read this accompanied by The Carnival of the Animals, click here.)

                    (at St. Mary's)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back     may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that
Lucille Clifton
blessing the boats

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