Living in Community



The choice to remain in a particular place, the waters

where you have been born, turbulent now where once

a reassuring murmur - lacking courage to leave?

Or having only grim tenacity to stay put? But

where else to go? Does the heart become a stone?


It is in familiar fixtures that we are delineated.

The edges of self, the definition of our body like

a sharp rock with lines and flecks of character;

knowledge and belief hold their own interpretation of

the sunlight dancing carelessly on the water’s surface.


Such chips of self, pebbles heaped in small mounds together, rubbing shoulders in tumbling streams -

to know such place amongst other people is to begin

to see with another eye, be pulled inside a current,

and we over-trust our cloudy vision. We are disturbed.


The clear knowledge comes that we were already

unseeing when we first entered this fresh, clear stream. We have rolled ourselves out too far midstream and broken our neighbour’s heart. We long to bathe once

more in the waters of unknowing. We are denying.


And so we thirst again and again for clearer, cleaner streams. When love fails, when the stepping stones over the river

never reach the other side, we are cut open and bleed.

Only then the lonely burden of our stone heart is rubbed

smooth, slowly under the river’s own cleansing, gentler hands.


Carol O’Connor