This, only my second book review for Mobilized, is honestly one that I hoped never to have to write. Yet the present situation is dire. There is an unknown and dangerous virus harming folks everywhere. It is best to try and prepare for every scenario; even the hard ones.
There is a kind of pain that comes from living in a diminished world. Most people encounter it upon the death of a loved one. It is visceral, and sudden, and searing like no other pain can be. For those who are not going through it, it is very difficult to understand or comfort the afflicted. We must all prepare for the possibility that we might face this pain, too; as we stock up our homes and take our temperatures. Take stock of your mental health. Check in with your family and friends.
We are all bracing for the real possibility of mass casualties. Use this time now to study your philosophers, religious leaders, and historians. The best literature I could offer you is a slim book from the 1920’s, “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. He was wise in the highest sense of the word. For many who are grieving the loss of a loved one there are no words that can remove their pain. His words, though, come pretty close.
This book was only one of many he wrote, but it was by far the most popular. For several years running it was the second most printed book in the world, behind The Bible. I am always sad to note that, (at least here in the United States), it has largely faded from common memory. That is a pity.
Statues have been built to honor Gibran. A very fine movie was made about this book a few years back. In Lebanon, his native land, he is still revered.
I say all this to avoid actually reviewing the book. I just really want you to read and enjoy it for yourself, without giving away anything. I’m asking you to take my word, the word of a complete stranger, and know that it’s simply extraordinary.
Here’s a sampling of his philosophy, to help you get a feel:
“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.”
“We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier way, begin no day where we have ended another day; and no sunrise finds us where sunset left us. Even while the earth sleeps we travel. We are the seeds of the tenacious plant, and it is in our ripeness and our fullness of heart that we are given to the wind and are scattered.”
“Life is deep and high and distant; and though only your vast vision can reach even her feet, yet she is near; and though only the breath of your breath reaches her heart, the shadow of your shadow crosses her face, and the echo of your faintest cry becomes a spring and an autumn in her breast.
And life is veiled and hidden, even as your greater self is hidden and veiled. Yet when Life speaks, all the winds become words; and when she speaks again, the smiles upon your lips and the tears in your eyes turn also into words. When she sings, the deaf hear and are held; and when she comes walking, the sightless behold her and are amazed and follow her in wonder and astonishment.”
“This darkness is dawn not yet born.”
“Tis a fearful thing to love what death can touch – a fearful thing to love, to hope, to dream, to be – to be and, oh, to lose – a thing for fools, this, and a holy thing – a holy thing to love, for your life has lived in me. Your laugh once lifted me. Your word was a gift to me. To remember this brings painful joy. Tis a human thing, love – a holy thing to love what death has touched.”