WHY BADSTUFF HAPPENS
by Elsa Joy Bailey
If it weren't for my beautiful sad mother
drinking a beaker of cold cyanide when I was three,
I wouldn't have learned
she could both love and abandon me
in one hot severe breath.
Nor would I have grown flowers in my heart
for people who urgently want to die.
If I had not broken my leg in a wild fall,
I wouldn't have learned that stark physical pain
is, to my great surprise, not permanent.
If I hadn't fallen in love with someone
who didn't love me,
I would never have realized that unrequited love
is still an ecstatic dance of the heart.
If I hadn't encountered praise and blame,
success and failure, heat and cold, darkness and light,
blows and kisses, pain and bliss,
never would I have found out that through it all
there is a Spirit within me
which remains unceasingly alive and loving.
If I hadn't received the gift of knowing you,
I would not have come to realise
that our stories are different in details,
but never in essence.
If I hadn't lived through an era of hurting
I would never have met the miracle
of being fed with kindness by a friend.
If I hadn't discovered that you and I
are two threads in the same vast cloth,
I would have remained forever lost and imprisoned
in my separate universe.
If I hadn't seen both good and evil
occupying space in the same event,
I would never have met the hand of humour
painting over these polarities
with new clarity and light.
If I hadn't wept a thousand tears
over the loss of a beloved,
I would never have been driven inward
to find the eternal companion,
If I had not witnessed cruelty
and man's inhumanity to man,
I would not have been forced to look
beneath the ugliness of fear,
and encounter the common Heart
that lies beneath it.
If I hadn't encountered our myriad differences,
I would never have discovered that you and I
are not two,
but infinite sparks of love ever arising
from one indestructible Flame.
And if I hadn't felt abandoned and heartsick,
I would never have heard the wordless whisper
of an abiding, unseeable Friend,
who translated the feeling of alone
into All One.