Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
— Naomi Shihab Nye
Here is the description by the artist.
This shrine is inspired by the No Mas Muertes (No More Deaths) project, providing humanitarian aid to illegal immigrants crossing the harsh deserts of Arizona. Deborah McCullough showed me the mixed media art she had created from the found remnants from these brutal crossings and I never forgot.
This shrine is 7½" tall and 4½" wide, and designed to hang on a wall.
If you would like to know more about what is being done to provide humanitarian aid to women or men or children crossing the border looking for their parents or relatives, you can click here and you will be directed to No More Deaths website. Here is their mission statement: