In wake of our recent tragedy in Japan...

As snow fell, a Buddhist priest prayed for the souls of victims still not found in the rubble of the tsunami-devastated coastal city of Yamada, Japan. Photo & caption: European Pressphoto Agency / NY Times

I read this poem and think, as David Whyte would say, how "easily the thread is broken from this life to the next" and I honor and grieve for the people that have perished in Japan...  Life is a mystery through and through and it is most definitely what is happening while we are making other plans...

THE HAZELWOOD by David Whyte

Sometimes it is like this; a crowded

fire-lit kitchen and a face warmed

by the teacup's steaming rim,

the world an utter comfort and a balm,

listening to the hub-bub

and the easy talk, the window etched

with soft rain and the white reflected ellipse

of porcelain caught deep in the tea.

Other times, up in the hazel

wooded shadow beneath the cliff,

crouched in the no-shelter

of the spindled scrub

with the hail cracking the limestone

around me and drumming the bluebells flat,

my head bent in the lightning glare

and the hair on my neck

standing straight up in the electric air,

its more like some edge we're on, everything

sustained by an invisible thread

that's just about to break, the storm a possible

death about to choose or not to choose

one life among all other lives it sees below

and takes us or leaves us, according to the place

we sit or stand, sheltered or not sheltered,

a person struck and gone

or left along, like this, to live again.

Crouched beneath that cloud

blown sky, under the roar of wind

and the close repeated drum of thunder

through the simultaneous light,

I heard a cry

and then through the tumult,

another cry,

looked up into

the bright white under feathers

of two peregrine falcons

come straight from the nesting cliff

claws extended,

banking and screaming to see me off,

away from their young, as if to say,

there's danger enough in the world

without you here too, their wild cries

set to the storm in some parallel agitation.

And me below hugging my knees,

wondering whether to stay or go.

The stone fort beneath the wood

struck again and again, each root of light

seeking a swollen sky, as if breaking

into heaven, loosing on my bare arms

and bent neck, a stinging hail.

Then, in the light, some intensity reached,

some moment beyond individual power,

some decision reached and then redeemed

by the rush of wind in the valley below,

carrying off the shadow and the storm,

but also, the imminence of that other world,

gone now, not here, now, taken, but

to be remembered, after, down in the

kitchen by the fire, sent back down

to my prison of comfort having glimpsed

in the wild, some open door, something

possible, and me alone in the crowd,

clothes steaming in the welcome heat,

escaped back in, shriven,

soaked to the bone,

drinking tea, alive still,

deserving, perhaps, another life.