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One should never explain a poem in advance. Having said that, I need to at least disclose that I wrote this poem several years ago during a difficult period in my pastoral ministry. Earlier experiences of watching the waves crash against the breakwater not far from our home became a metaphor for managing the mistreatment I was feeling.

Being human means being hurt, in big and small ways. It means acknowledging the pain when it comes, as it does to every life, in order to move through it and beyond it. Often by naming what we don’t understand or the ways we are tempted to play it safe we begin to understand that life is all about risking – love, talent, energy, friendship, certainty, ego, creativity, the inner voice – or it is not living! Often the risking involves letting go.

So, this poem may be an admonition of sorts – I am still unsure what exactly it is saying to me (or perhaps about me).

How about you? What does it say to you? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Pacific Ocean at Asilomar

All That Is Breaking

Swells crash against the breakwater,
leaping high in the salty air,
like flying walls of sea water.

We come to watch nature’s powerful display,
moving in just close enough to taste danger,
to take the risk of dread.

Otherwise we are more cautious creatures,
driving the speed limit,
minding our manners,
keeping our heads low,
risking only what we are able.

A day may come
when our own powerful natures confront us,
taking the waves of deep grief
swelling within our fluid bodies,

and watching them wash over
all that is breaking
along the turbulent shores of this life.

Words (c) 2009 Mark Lloyd Richardson
Photo (c) 2012 Dallis Day Richardson