Friday, 30 August 2013

A Poem is My Prescription

It is rare for a doctor to prescribe a poem as part of the healing journey - and yet that is among the things my lovely family doctor recommended during my last visit. As you might imagine from this, we have a very special relationship and one that I have come to treasure more acutely in recent months. She described how her family had gone through a terrible tragedy and talked about a poem by an Irish writer that related to the "interim" period - a time after some significant life event (diagnosis) when the foundations of your life have torn away and you need to find a path to adjust to a new set of realities. I share it now not just because it is beautiful but because it so perfectly describes where I am.

For the Interim Time - by John O'Donohue

When near the end of day, life has drained
Out of light, and it is too soon
For the mind of night to have darkened things,
No place looks like itself, loss of outline
Makes everything look strangely in-between
Unsure of what has been or what might come
In this wan light, even trees seem groundless
In a while it will be night, but nothing
Here seems to believe the relief of dark.
You are in this time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.
The path you took to get here has washed out;
The way forward is still concealed from you
"The old is not old enough to have died away;
The new is still too young to be born."
You cannot lay claim to anything;
In this place of dusk,
Your eyes are blurred;
And there is no mirror.
Everyone has lost sight of your heart,
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.
As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow your confusion to squander
This cell which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
from all you have outgrown.
What is being transfigured is your mind
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.


  1. Beautiful - both the poem and the fact that you and your doctor are close enough for her to know that the poem will help.