The poet Galway Kinnell, a writer of exquisite and moving poetry, died this week.
His poem ‘St Francis and the Sow’, which you can read in its entirety here, opens with these lines:
stands for all things,
even those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
This expresses so clearly a central responsibility of leaders (isn’t that all of us?), parents, friends, coaches, consultants, doctors, nurses, teachers of all kinds – to act in a way that enables the people and systems in which we work to flower from within, of self-blessing.
It is ridiculously easy to be cynical. Easy to create distance. Easy to forget the capacities that lie within us. And the easiest (and sometimes, in the moment, most self-satisfying) to pull people and projects apart with our knowing insight and sharp judgement, or with our world-weariness.
And it’s probably the hardest, and most necessary, to be someone who patiently, over time, brings about genuine flourishing by reminding us all of our most life-giving qualities – the ones we so easily forget – so they can be called into expression.