My daughter gave me a gift a while ago: a book of free-verse Tao Te Ching poems, written "for those coming into the fullness of their wisdom." For months, it sat in a messy pile on my desk, unopened. I was too busy to slow down to reflect on any fullness or to lose myself in poetry. Time and mood conspire: I found the little book--a mere 120 pages, some with delicate ink-wash drawings [see above]--on a day when I was trying to think my way through a messy passage in my life.
Among the gems I found in "The Sage's Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for the Second Half of Life" by William Martin, was this sparely written poem that, for all its gentle tone, rips to the heart of where we are as parents of grown children--or, rather, where we might aspire to be as we kick off this season of family get-togethers.
Like the Full Moon on an Autumn Evening
When we were young
and feeling the need to prove ourselves,
we generated heat and energy
like the noonday sun.
But now we take time to reflect the Tao
and bathe our world in soft silent beauty
like the full moon on an Autumn evening.
An abundance of opinions will generate heat
but accomplish nothing.
You no longer have to comment
on each and every little thing.
You can observe events with a detached serenity.
When you speak,
your words are gentle, helpful, and few.
Your silence is as beautiful as the Harvest moon.