It was a graduation present from my father and stepmother, a book, “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. I hadn’t thought much of it at first, as it was quickly buried away within a pile of congratulatory cards, various shaped frames and few other items not necessarily capturing the attention of a seventeen year old girl.
But then one day, as I unwillingly cleaned my room, I came across this unassuming best seller. Skimming through the pages I began to realize this was no ordinary gift. It was a series of passages, spiritually inspirational advice gifted to me from my family.
Feeling moved, I grabbed the soft angora blanket from the foot of my bed, fluffed up my pillows, turned my bedside table lamp on and began to read. As I started reading, my narcissistic shell of a teenager began to shed away. My heart was touched, and something even deeper, my soul.
I read through the pages a half dozen times, contemplating meanings, highlighting sections, dog earring corners and drawing hearts and stars beside my favorite passages. I quoted “The Prophet” for years to come sharing excerpts in speeches, classes, at weddings and unfortunately, one to many family member funerals.
You see, as the youngest child of three I was often left out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ok with that, my older two siblings were closer in age and I was the tag along they just didn’t want tagging along. But knowing this I learned to keep myself occupied through reading and writing. I quickly learned the simplicity of being transported into a new realm of reality through the pages of a good book, or within the sheets of a few blank papers and one sharpened pointy pencil.
It didn’t matter if a book was fact or fiction, a comic book or a poem, I loved it all, though poetry was my favorite. There was nothing more exciting than trying to decipher the thoughts of the author. What were they trying to say? What larger purpose drove the writer to create the piece I was reading? How should the reader relate these thoughts to reality?
However, “The Prophet” was something completely new to me. This touched an internal void, opening my eyes to a spiritual freedom larger than the physical walls I knew of a religious structure, pulpit and singular book.
Within these simple black and cream pages, my mind was filled with rich, inspirational and thought provoking words that would alter my personal definition of spirituality. A few of these lines included:
- In love, marriage and relationships, “Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.”
- When raising children, “Your children are not your children. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”
- With giving, “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself you truly give.”
- By living passionately you live a fuller life, for “the deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain”.
- In regards to friendship, “For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill? Seek him always with hours to live.”
- With prayer, “You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.”
- As for religion, “Your daily life is your temple and your religion. Whenever you enter into it take with you your all.”
- With time, “yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.”
My original gift of “The Prophet” became indecipherable from years and layers of notes, highlights and pencil marks, as well as being completely shredded from the constant page turning, and has since been replaced. But this little nondescript twenty-six prose poems gift, which I gave myself once again, has given me a lifetime of spiritual clarity, understanding and purity. This book continues to move my soul, even today.
If you have not had a chance to touch the pages of “The Prophet”, or picked up a copy in years, you may want to consider revisiting this timeless treasure. It might be just the thing to empower your spirit, and touch you.
* Quotes within this article are taken from “The Prophet”, written by Kahlil Gibran, poet, artist and writer. This book was published in 1923 and has sold tens of million of copies to date.
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Thank you – Michelle