That Reading You Were Looking For
While planning my wedding, I spent several weeks searching for the perfect reading. It was a union of two English teachers, after all. I even bought a couple of books devoted to poems of matrimonial devotion. I scoured my many Nortons and X.J. Kennedy anthologies.
And one day, when I wasn’t looking, I found this remarkable poem in the collected works of my favorite contemporary poet: William Stafford. Three-fourths of the attendees at my wedding were teachers and school administrators, and thus this poem has now become the final reading at at least one school graduation.
Since we are in that time of year — and some of you may be planning everything from seminary graduations to wedding toasts to mission send-offs — here it is. You can thank me later.
You Reading This, Be Ready
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life—
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?