Vulnerability – a poem by David Whyte

Vulnerability – a poem by David Whyte

Today’s Lenten reflection is a piece of poetic prose spoken by one of my favourite contemporary poets David Whyte, on embracing vulnerability as a part of the human condition.

At the beginning of each new year I ask God to give me a word to aid me in my devotional life for the coming year. Last year, at the start of 2017 the Lord gave me the word ‘vulnerability’ and I began to do some study on it. I instantly assumed it was the word for the next PassionArt Trail that would have opened this week across Manchester. Instead this word was much more personal as I have experienced vulnerability in depths never previously known to me, through my body, my mind and my soul.

On this third day of Lent take some time to listen to this poem called Vulnerability by David Whyte and ask yourself how do you inhabit vulnerability? Tell God how this poem and this word makes you feel. Do you want to run away from the experience of vulnerability in your present circumstances or are you open to ‘inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss’ ?

To listen click on the image below and use as a meditation. I have also included the text below.…/david-whyte-the-conversational-nat…

“DayVulnerability is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without, vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding undercurrent of our natural state. To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature, the attempt to be invulnerable is the vain attempt to become something we are not and most especially, to close off our understanding of the grief of others. More seriously, in refusing our vulnerability we refuse the help needed at every turn of our existence and immobilize the essential, tidal and conversational foundations of our identity.

To have a temporary, isolated sense of power over all events and circumstances, is a lovely illusionary privilege and perhaps the prime and most beautifully constructed conceit of being human and especially of being youthfully human, but it is a privilege that must be surrendered with that same youth, with ill health, with accident, with the loss of loved ones who do not share our untouchable powers; powers eventually and most emphatically given up, as we approach our last breath.

The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance, our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.”