Ask me

This past September (2016) during the Swiss retreat one of my students brought a beautiful poem to me in practice discussion. The poem, Ask Me, is by one of my favorite American poets, William Stafford (1914-1993). I've lived with the poem these three months and wanted to bring it to Inquiry. There is so much in this brief but powerful verse which reflects the depth of Inquiry; the invitation to meet each other intimately and honestly, the willingness to face the immense beauty as well as the unpleasant truth of our lives, the necessity of listening deeply to the questions and to attend to their responses, and to note the ways in which life invites us to solidify into "selves" below which truth moves more freely. We grasp for solid ground in an ever-changing and completely interdependent flow of contingencies. In doing so, we abandon the warmth of lived experience for the false hope of certainty. Can we "hold the stillness exactly before us?"

The recorded Inquiry opens in response to the poem but the poem is enough in itself. Live with it as I have. It has gifts for you hidden in the stillness.

Ask Me
~ William Stafford

Some time when the river is ice ask me
mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
what I have done is my life. Others
have come in their slow way into
my thought, and some have tried to help
or to hurt: ask me what difference
their strongest love or hate has made.

I will listen to what you say.
You and I can turn and look
at the silent river and wait. We know
the current is there; hidden; and there
are comings and goings from miles away
that hold the stillness exactly before us.
What the river says, that is what I say.

Inquiry recording: