Walking Alongside






None of us can “mend” another person’s life, no matter how much the other may need it, no matter how much we may want to do it.

Mending is inner work that everyone must do for him or herself. When we fail to embrace that truth the result is heartbreak for all concerned.

What we can do is walk alongside the people we care about, offering simple companionship and compassion. And if we want to do that, we must save the only life we can save, our own.
~Parker Palmer writing about Mary Oliver’s poem “The Journey”





One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations – – –
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – – – determined to save
the only life you could save.
~Mary Oliver “The Journey”







Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.
~Eugene O’Neill







We are born hollering and suddenly alone,
already aware of our emptiness
from the first breath,
each tiny air sac bursting
with the air of our fallen world~
air that is never enough.

The rest of our days are spent
filling up our empty spaces
whether alveoli
or stomach
or synapses starving for understanding,
still hollering in our loneliness
and heart

So we mend ourselves
through our walk with others
also broken,
we patch up our gaps
by knitting the scraggly fragments
of lives lived together.
We become the crucial glue
boiled from gifted Grace,
all our holes
somehow made holy.















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7 thoughts on “Walking Alongside

  1. Compassionate companionship:
    A friend who walks beside
    To listen and be leaned upon
    And through the storms, abide

    To be a friend that sits and stays
    Closer than kindest kin
    Who hears and adheres to you
    Through the thick and thin

    A friend who lays down his plans
    When you need him to come
    A friend that will meet you
    In the rain and sun

    A friend that will go for you
    The extra mile
    And speak words of encouragement,
    Who loves to see you smile

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Quietly, intimately, beautifully said by Parker, Mary, and Emily. Deceptively simple advice for our relationships with ‘others’ — all those in our immediate life, those on the periphery, and those whom we do not know but must include in our daily prayer life, especially the millions facing all human suffering of any kind….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So beautiful and timely. My 17 year old grandson was talking heart to heart with me this evening. He said he needs a “person” in his life besides his dad. He told me grandpa Eli was that person…the one he could always go to with good or bad stuff, that always had good advice and validation. .. since grandpa died, Ean has a hole in his heart that has him feeling as if an ocean wave has upended him and he can’t get his bearings at times. My grandson asked if I would be that “person” that he needs. I told him I would be honored. It’s a big lesson for my grandson to walk into his future without the loving support of his grandpa…and I do know what it feels like to have your world off kilter a bit… I will be sharing this post with Ean for sure.


  4. such a lovely thing, Laura, that your special grandson would ask and confirm you as his special buddy. That is something to treasure always and Eli’s spirit is strong within you!


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