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A tear and a smile

Like many of my contemporaries, I first discovered Kahlil Gibran in the '60s when I and many of my contemporaries read "The Prophet." At the time, I don't think his work was considered very highly among the literati, but my friends and I all thought it was very romantic, spiritual and cool. For Christmas this year, I received his A Tear and A Smile, written in 1950 in Arabic. He was born in 1883 in what is now Lebanon, but was then called Ottoman Syria, at least according to his bio in, and came to the US as a 12-year-old with his mother and siblings. They settled in Boston.

Times may be different, but spiritual poetry is timeless. Here is a sample of his work:

The life of a flower is longing and fulfillment. A tear and a smile.

The waters of the sea become vapor and rise and come together and are a cloud.

And the cloud floats above the hills and valleys until it meets the gentle breeze, then falls weeping to the fields and joins with the brooks and rivers to return to the sea, its home.

The life of clouds is a parting and a meeting. A tear and a smile.

And so does the spirit become separated from the greater spirit to move in the world of matter and pass as a cloud over the mountain of sorrow and the plains of joy to meet the breeze of death and return whence it came.

To the ocean of Love and Beauty -- to God.

I wish you a fully balanced life, one of tears and smiles, of longing and fulfillment, of partings and meetings. May you appreciate the richness of it all.

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