January with Jane – 4. Ripeness

January with Jane-4 



what falls away with ease.

Not only the heavy apple,

the pear,

but also the dried brown strands

of autumn iris from their core.

To let your body

love this world

that gave itself to your care

in all of its ripeness,

with ease,

and will take itself from you

in equal ripeness and ease,

is also harvest.

And however sharply

you are tested —

this sorrow, that great love —

it too will leave on that clean knife.

-Jane Hirshfield

Another very old favorite of mine, one I memorized perhaps 20 years ago, but which has perhaps ripened in me. 

I love the way this poem elicits the image of letting go as a ripeness. My experience is also this, that letting go happens to you.  People ask, and I can never explain to them how it happens, the ripening that leads to letting go, to acceptance (no, not the same as giving up, not even quite the same as allowing, but more like 'loving this world as it is'...truly loving) the way the release itself suddenly is a part of you?

Sometimes , I think , the admonition to 'let go' what has become heavy is premature. Does the apple or the pear 'try' or 'do' something other than received the gathered light of the seasons? Of course “trying” to let go is an oxymoron, but when you have matured that fruit through the seasons of life the release is easy and natural.  There is perhaps nothing to 'do' but to hang on.  Yes, there are times the fruit is yanked from the tree too soon, (and even then there are ways, but is it as sweet, that nurture?) Can it be as simple as letting life, (which gives itself to you in all its ripeness), happen to you, all of it (as Rilke would say, (see Guest House)

It remains a mystery, the way that ripening occurred within me, along with the mystery of how it is that I see life as beauty . Nothing I ‘did’.  Like the apple, perhaps this ripening is meant to be a part of the natural course of a life, a part of the journey of becoming more fully human, and, dare I say, a sweet source of nurture for others.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: January with Jane – 8. Balance | Emmaatlast's Weblog

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