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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

Tuesday, April 30, 2024: Still Possible  By David Whyte - full poem

Tuesday, April 30, 2024: Still Possible  By David Whyte - full poem from our Emmaus Retreat at Carmel April 17 – 20, 2024. Created by Sister Maureen Hilliard

Still Possible  By David Whyte


It is still possible to be kind to yourself,

to drop constraints and fall often

to your knees, it's not too late now,

to bow to what beckons,

the world still swimming

around you as you kneel transfigured

by what sweeps on, it's still possible

to leave every fearful former self

in the wake of newly-heard words

issuing from an astonished mouth.

It's still possible to feel your body

as fully here and fully you, but not

quite your own, to find you can live

both entirely as yourself and in

the lovely anonymous multitude

of elements around you, that you

have always been a brother and sister to the

clouds beyond the window;

or have lived your secret, unspoken

marriage with the pale blue sky

for more years than you could ever

remember; and that you have always been

proud to be, through all

your difficulties, a loyal companion

and friend to the foaming tide,

coming and going, appearing and

disappearing with you,

and for you, day after day

on the ceaseless shore.

It's still possible amongst all the

never-ending movement

to hold the necessary anchorage,

while having a mindset

for the great migration,

to be ready to up and go

and then surprisingly

be gone


It’s not too late to imagine

That the days

To come are the lost children

You are still

To bring to birth and to maturity,

And that you are ready once more

To be selfless on their behalf,

Setting them to rights

When they fall, listening when

They lose faith, being that

Mother or father

Who through all their difficulties,

Give the gift of constant witness

It is still possible to intuit

a magnificent,

individual arrival, that brings you still

closer to the accompanying

faraway crowd

to live bravely as always,

as someone said,

to the point of tears

to realize that you

have always had your life shattered

and your heart broken and your faith

tested by loving too much

and too often

and that all along,

it was never too much

and never too often,

and that you were never, ever, fully broken.

No, it's still possible to feel that spring

is in the air, to intuit these days

as pilgrim days; that these

are mornings for setting off

early hours when new stories

have already begun, mornings

to understand that you are now living

fully in some secret parallel

where you can just as well

go anywhere by going nowhere,

when you can stay at home

and find in any given hour or day

in the quiet kitchen,

the just culmination

of a practiced sincerity,

when you can learn

the daily minutiae of giving up

and giving in;

the beautiful but necessary

fasting into submission,

of resting through not doing,

or not eating, or not hating,

or not taking, or not judging too quickly,

of learning

how easily you can free yourself

and how easily you can forget who

needed to be impressed

and who needed to be punished,

and most of all recounting who you

needed to forgive so bravely,

for hurting you so deeply: yes,

to practice every day, the difficult art of being

proudly abstemious

but disarmingly generous of learning

to entertain the unsettling truth

that from the beginning, through

all your difficulties,

you have been learning to pass on every

single thing you ever learned

and every single thing you never fully

deserved, back to those

who have never found it

in their power to receive. 

Yes, it's still possible not to

hold so tightly

to what you think is true, to bend

your head and

assume humility beneath the eaves

of a still spreading sky, to feel the rain

upon your upturned face,

how you have

always been friends with

the distant horizon, no matter how far

and how faint its call.


Yes, it's still possible to be a soulon its way to a beautiful, beckoning

and bountiful somewhere,

looking for the gift you will bring back to

the time of your birth, so that you can start living again, from the very first moment

you came into this life,

but this time with the cleaner, earned

simplicity of knowing

what it has taken you so long to learn: to

ask for forgiveness

by being forgiveness: to live more

generously, by greeting yourself

more generously,

and then to dance

more bravely, to speak more suddenly,

and with a free heart to undo as you go

all you do wrong, and to right the wronged

and unsettle the

self- righteous, sharing

the secret to happiness with everyone.

Yes, oh yes, it's still possible to taste

the natural God-given sweetness

in every cloud in the sky,

in every little you eat,

in the breath that you take,

in every hand that you touch,

in every day that you wake,

in every tear that you shed,

in every voice still waiting to call you,

in every once solid, immovable door,

now calling you through; and in every

single blessed moment turning

to the next.

It's still possible to fully understand

you have always been the place

where the miracle has happened:

that you have been since your birth

the bread given and the wine lifted,

the change witnessed and

the change itself,

that you have been all along,

a goodness that can continue

to be goodness to itself

It's still possible in the end

to realize why you are here

and why you have endured,

and why you might have suffered

so much, so that in the end,

you could witness love, miraculously

arriving from nowhere, crossing

bravely as it does, out of darkness,

from that great and spacious stillness,

inside you,

to the simple

light-filled life being said

Link to Songs from Retreat:


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