On Joy and Sorrow


I heard this poem today at a funeral I was attending today, and it struck a chord with me.

On Joy and Sorrow
Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

 

lonely-sparrow

I hadn’t thought of it before, but when we feel sorrow it is because we have loved. We cannot experience love and not expect to feel sorrow, and what is life without love?

Please drop me a line in the comments and let me know what you think of this poem.

(PS – more about my four-funerals-in-two-days tomorrow!)

 

 

Monday Monday


Monday – what’s that all about then??

Why do we call it Monday anyway? Could it be named after a blood-and-guts folk hero like Thor (Thursday)? Or a massive historical figure such as Julius Caesar (July)? Or a playful figure from literature like Janus (January)? No. Monday is named after that ever-present celestial body the moon. Moon’s Day = Monday. It’s not just a western world name for it neither. The word itself comes from the Old English “monandaeg” and the Old Germanic interpretation of the Latin “lunas dies” meaning “moon’s day”, and surprisingly there is a correlation to the eastern languages’ name for Monday. In Sanskrit the word for Monday is “somavara”, and the Japanese and Korean word for it is the same, coming from the ancient Chinese “月曜日” meaning again, “moon’s day”.

But why?

It’s a bit of a coincidence that these disparate languages all refer to the same day of the week with the same meaning. Even more surprising when you consider that across the world and cultures all over people can’t even agree whether Monday is the first or the second day of the week. There is an international standard now to say Monday is officially the first day of the week (ISO 8601) but try convincing the Jews, the Quakers, the Portugese and some orthodox Christians of that. They most definitely recognise Monday as their second day of the week.

That aside did you know that monks dedicated Mondays to the honourable Bodiless Powers of heaven (ie angels) and offer their prayers of intercession to them on a Monday?

Angels = celestial bodies = the moon = Monday = monks. I love that connection!

To me Mondays are a fresh beginning. A new week when the rest of the household have gone back to work and school and my time stretches out before me. A blank canvas which I am responsible for filling…but with what and how?? That is my personal challenge.

When I was working I hated Monday. It was such a negative day: everyone seemed so down and miserable. Mourning for the weekend just passed and marooned in a sea of duty and WORK. Too far away from the shore of the next weekend for it to be any comfort. And it seems it was ever thus.  The poor monks who tried to lead as angelic a life as they could would fast on a Monday (except where special holy days fell) and were not allowed to eat meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, wine or oil. It makes you wonder if Monday’s bad reputation was born in those days of fasting and prayer where the purity of angels has been buried in the misery of hunger and want.

So, Monday. What does it mean to you? I’d be interested to see if you greet Monday with joy or despair. Is it a day of angels or misery for you? Do you count it as the first or the second day of the week?  Leave me a comment and let me know!!