I shared this devotional with our NLF staff team yesterday at our spring retreat. Jesus models for us what it means to be true to ourselves rather than follow the voices and demands of those around us (see Mark 1:35-38). May Sarton’s poem provides a unique medium to wrestle with that process. Be sure to take some time with the questions that follow.
Now I Become Myself (by May Sarton)
Now I become myself. It’s taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people’s faces,
Run madly, as if Time were there,
Terribly old, crying a warning,
‘Hurry, you will be dead before-‘
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached, and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me to become the song,
Made so and rooted by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun!
- When have you worn other people’s faces? Been “dissolved and shaken?
- What do you know about standing still? Feeling “your own weight and density”?
- When have you been able to say, “All fuses now…in this single hour I live, all of myself”?
- What might be one or two ways we can offer ourselves to the world in such a way that it “does not exhaust the root,” that we more fully “become ourselves” as NLF?