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Come away, O human child

November 27, 2008

In the movie A.I., Steven Spielberg weaves a post-modern fairy tale about the fall from protected innocence, and the quest to reclaim the rights to paradise. In a haunting turn of plot, the robot-child protagonist David is given cryptic instructions about how he may find his creator:

Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping
than you can understand.

The reader may recognize this stanza from William Butler Yeats’ The Stolen Child. The last line haunts me: “For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.”

At the overwhelming realization that the world is more full of weeping than we can understand, it may be in our nature to feel a sense of near-hopelessness—it may seem futile or pointless to even dedicate or engage in the pursuit of compassion or relief of others. I am heartened, however, in this bodhisattva vow:

Though the many beings are numberless,
 I vow to save them.
Though greed, hatred, and ignorance rise endlessly,
I vow to end them.
Though the path is vast and fathomless,
I vow to understand it.
Though enlightenment is beyond attainment,
I vow to embody it fully.

Indeed, as we progress toward more poignant understanding of the inexhaustable store of weeping that is in this world, might we use this expanding awareness to our advantage? Might we allow a blessed emotional alchemy to occur, in which the deep wells of global sorrow become to us deep reserves of positive will and generosity? Such an alchemy of spirit, it seems, would be a formula powerful toward the creation of a life rich with purpose and imbued with meaning. 

Come away, O human child, and let us see if we cannot allow the weeping of the world to move through us and convert our beings into fountains of compassion, flowing as freely as the tears we see.

As author Christina Feldman suggests, “Compassion doesn’t always call for the grand and heroic gestures. It asks you to find in your heart the simple and profound willingness to be present, with a commitment to end sorrow and contribute to the well-being and ease of all beings.”

As I engage in a day of Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the many humans who have taught and demonstrated this simple and profound willingness to be present, and I recommit to these core principles essential in cultivating “warm glow,” abiding calm, and a meaning-full life.

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One Comment
  1. Jason Anthony permalink

    Searching and beautiful. I’m oddly stuck in bitterness and rage today, and unwilling to give it up for the national holiday. This is the best kind of balm: some perspective. Thanks on Thanksgiving.

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