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Tools for Teachers

This Poem by Lucille Clifton Reminds Us That Change is Inevitable

When you look at nature, you can see how life is always propelling you forward—even when it doesn't seem that way.

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blessing the boats
(at St. Mary’s)

by Lucille Clifton

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back    may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

The poem conveys this sense that we’re being held and supported by the elements. When I read this, I’m thinking about the tides that I am moving through—this undulation of energy that is constantly flowing through me. My father is in hospice, and it’s my first time experiencing the anticipation of loss. As my family and I witness his life fade, the waves are immense and profound. There’s grief. There’s joy and sadness. There are memories of a life lived beautifully. I am witnessing it all knowing that we’ll move through this to arrive at that, whatever that will be.

We must learn to be in harmony with the water, to be sensitive to the language of water. To trust in the bigger forces around and beyond us—this ebb and flow of energy—so that we can always feel the water that is waving forever, the wind that is gently propelling us forward. Even if it’s forceful wind, there’s still love in it. The wind carries you somewhere new and fresh; it stirs up change.

And I love Clifton’s phrase “the lip of our understanding.” There is something beyond our understanding still yet for us to discover if we allow ourselves to be carried further, carried out. The “lip” is the exploration of our growing edge. It’s not necessarily a razor’s edge—it’s a compassionate edge, a sweet edge, an edge to be kissed.

Pilin Anice, E-RYT 500, guides students of all ages through breath-centered, inquiry-based offerings that seek to harmonize the mind, body, and spirit. Anice is a Howard University alumna, MIRROR trainer, Kripalu faculty member, lululemon ambassador, and teacher at the Ailey Extension in New York.