A little hymn to life

“Personal needs come and go, but one anxiety remains: Am I needed?  There is no one who has not been moved by that anxiety.”   – Abraham Joshua Heschel


A little hymn to life

How it starts is bare feet on cold tile,
steps to the washroom,
strobes of hard light from above the mirror,
someone that resembles you, staring back,
running water until it’s warm,
lifting handfuls, hoping to find your face,
a cup of caffeinated confidence for the road,
searching the porch for shoes,
clasping coat to chest against the wind,
breathing into your collar, standing
under the nickel light of a street lamp,
boarding the bus to your daily bread,
sending out your applications
to the oafish distain of the global village,
still, counting yourself in, still
claiming your presence in the fray,
as one who tends a guttering flame.
Swallowing the absence within,
you seek a guide in the overturned sky,
search the wooden air for words
—when, a call, a conversation, quietly
cries out the certainty of your being needed,
and going to the window, you hum
a little hymn to life, right here
at the dawn of February.


(This morning, north of Stony Plain)



  1. A new job? A paying one? –or pri-merrily, a life satisfaction one?
    In any case, congratulations! We’ll hum with you in the refrain.

  2. a perfect memo to soul of the self-attached to the earth but flying with chains of feather fans to marble skies and a dance of, not-dreamed, not imagined. real hope and joy springs up in sunny but cold seeing the grace of sleep, awakening, all one snowflaked, ice crystal, birdsong design, all together swoop

  3. Having laboured long under the illusion that I was needed, I’ve recently tasted the freedom of not being so – someone somewhere is better than me at everything I know how to do. But … occasionally it comes to me that I am wanted, and so I hum….

  4. Sam, but of course your being needed wasn’t an illusion. For if you had started with the premise that someone out there will always eclipse you, you wouldn’t have started, or if you had, cared all that much, and so not have gained the insight of age–that being wanted, is in time, somehow preferable to being needed–that really, only now, you can truthfully relay. And yet, it comes to me, that you are still needed. Need does connote utility in this temporal realm, but how about this: you are not an accident in the cosmic drama, that in fact God not only wants you, but needs you.

  5. I am a ‘newby’ . Your blog was suggested to me by a friend, as I don’t appear to be adjusting well, to my new life. I lost my son, my home, and my husband, in that order, within months. And I am the classic personality that can “look after myself, thank You”….tried, and failed. I read your pages today, gained some insight, and will continue to do so.
    Thank You.

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