Thistle Seeds of Kindness (2020)

A single fluffy nipple detaches itself

from the bed of its closely-nestled siblings

and rises free to ride a forest updraft,

sail the length of three trees,

and land in the crook of a sister thistle.

This flight so miraculous, so matter of fact,

is the work of gossamer gliders

that carry their freight of weighty seeds,

trusting the wind to lift and distribute them.

Ghost stars that surrender to be drifted,

flung into the future,

they commit to move beyond limits,

beyond expected life-spans,

and beyond the hope of praise or reward.

Without guarantee of fulfillment,

the feathery travelers are like wishes

blown from hushed candles to the ears of gods,

cotton lyres tuned to spiritual chords

that call for exquisite listeners.

So also, when the smallest compassionate action

leaves the nest of our minds

and vaults into the loom of the world,

connective strands weave a furrow

for the sowing of kinship and love.

Like the time the guest met a grieving daughter

at her cousin’s wedding and said,

“My older brother was your dad’s friend forty years ago,

and I used to tag along with this teenage crowd.

Your dad showed me how to dribble and shoot a basketball,

taking the time to coach me when the others didn’t bother.

I never forgot that.”

No matter how worn from the telling,

threads spun from memories of empathy

go home smiling into the unknown,

illuminated pilgrims with the power

to comfort a yet unborn daughter

whose father lives again in the story

of a kindness that defies death

and returns to bless the living.

For a legacy can be borne lightly through the air —

almost weightless —

but land with the density of possibilities,

such as the seeding of fiercely-protected blossoms

by aerial beings with no ability to steer,

zen pilots who abandon all control.

As for the daughter at the wedding,

she is too old to conceive a child,

but her heart still connects to the open fields

where compassionate deeds

land silently with the sweet rain today

but echo with glad harvest for generations.

May the beloved descendants

one day trumpet the creation of heaven on Earth.

May they transform narrow conceptions of family

to cultivate wide communities whose deep bonds testify,

We are all of love-bearing age.

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