War in Ukraine was breaking out while a group of us were on the weekend retreat for Journey to the Deep this year. It felt strange talking about what we want for our lives, when the suffering of so many people was so present in our minds. There’s of course much to be said and done, but this poem by Pablo Neruda also points to the need for silence and introspection at such times - perhaps if we really could keep quiet, we wouldn’t need anything else.
After some mindful movement, relaxation and an abundance and protection meditation, we "did nothing" together with a cup of tea. At the end I read the poem - I believe its an essential and healthy part of being human to question how we can be here, work on ourselves in these moments, when we are aware of so much suffering in the world around us. It feels like a question I will hold for my whole life.
I won’t comment more on it - make of it what you will.
by Pablo Neruda
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let's not speak in any language;
let's stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about...
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with
Now I'll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.