“YOUR PAIN IS THE BREAKING OF THE SHELL THAT ENCLOSES YOUR UNDERSTANDING.”
* I remember when and where I first met Kahlil Gibran, so to speak. I was a married twenty five year old junior marketing guy, away on a rare business trip, sitting in awe beneath the black star studded heavens on a crystal clear winter night in a vast glass hotel lobby overlooking downtown Montreal, Quebec.
I’d just checked in and unpacked; I wandered downstairs to explore, like a stranger in a strange world. Somehow, I bought a little red poetry book (something I never did or read, but now realize I was sniffing around for something to bring a little peace to my torment way back then.)
So I flipped thru this little gold edged book in the lobby shop, was struck profoundly by something there, bought it and found myself not so much reading as listening, to one of my early – albeit unrecognized at the time – ‘spiritual’ teachers in that expansive, starry lobby. Indeed, the spirit of Gibran provided, on that and many later occasions, a kind of solace and grace and comfort like sitting around a crackling warm fire with a close friend.
That fire – if only for one moment – never stopped burning for decades; its glowing ash was to kindle and rekindle a long guided and misguided search. At first, it was seeking something called “success” in the material world and “love” in the relationship world; then it was for something really true to believe in; later, it seems, all that I thought and felt I wanted to have and to hold – all of it – was taken and/or otherwise surrendered and/or burned up on the altar of an abiding peace.*
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.”