Childhood and Poetry, by Pablo Neruda
There are, especially in childhood, moments of quiet luminosity in which we feel the connectedness of things. As much as we are wounded by intended or unintended gestures at an age when we understand little, we are also exposed to a wonder at the fullness of things, what the theologians call “unmerited favor”. Grace. Neruda’s story from childhood is by no means a theological treatise, but it captures the marvel of receptivity, and of the absolute freedom of gift-giving. The apparition of a hand, and the giving of a gift, is a love that feeds the fire of life. And for Neruda, the experience impressed upon him not just gratitude for those who are known and loved, but for those who are unknown, and yet who—even in their anonymity—replenish our souls. And this experience, he tells us, strengthens him in adulthood, in the midst of inauspicious circumstances.
What moments of childhood luminosity still reside with you? For whom are you grateful even in their anonymity? What are the things that widen out the boundaries of your being? What are the small and mysterious gifts that you give to others? What are the gifts that remain inside you for which you are thankful?
Todd Breyfogle, Denver, Colorado