Sweet Honey from Old Failures

Sometimes it’s hard to forgive ourselves for what we call our failures.

Maybe it was a relationship that tanked.

Maybe it was an enterprise you invested a lot of energy, money and love into, and it did not bring what you were hoping for.

Maybe you took a wrong turn in life, and ended up totally lost.

Maybe you did a very misguided thing that cost you several relationships.

And even though you have begun to understand that past-you was doing the best you could with the self-knowledge and understanding of the world you had at that time, still. It has cost you a lot.

And even though you have tried to make amends and have begun bringing self-compassion and tenderness to the place of hurt, maybe there is still a place that feels raw. Call it grief, call it remorse, call it what you will: it still smarts when you touch it or remember.

What if you knew that a lovely thing that’s about to happen could not happen if it weren’t for that failure?

If any of this has spoken to you, this poem by Antonio Machado and this painting by Leah Piken Kolidas might be for you.

Art by Leah Piken Kolidas

Last Night As I Was Sleeping

(by Antonio Machado,
with translation by Robert Bly)

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
that I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt—marvelous error!—
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

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