Passing On

I wrote this in 1998.

When time ends for me, I'll be leaving as naked as I arrived.
On that journey I cannot take a thing...
Not a shield or a mask, not a coin or an honor.
What shall I take?

I shall take these words, these thoughts, these memories.
I shall take my loves and my longings, my delights and my awakenings.
I shall take the blessings of my children and of their children.
I shall take the embrace of friends and my gratitude for their love.

I shall take my awe for the mysteries and magic of this universe.
I shall take the colors of Spring and of dawn, and of all such gaudy celebrations of life.
I shall take the cool of water and the warmth of fire.
I shall take the music of wind and of waves, of minds and of hearts.

I shall take my talents and pursuits, my failings and misgivings.
I shall take the gentle recollection of scents and touches and smiles and kind words.
I shall take the comfort of chocolate and the vitality of sex.
I shall take the brilliant elegance of poetry and of algebra and of Bach.

I shall take the compassion of Einstein and the truth of Mozart, the love of Jesus and the logic of Lao Tsu.
I shall take the intimacy of surrender and the delight of discovery.
I shall take the terror of threat... and the calm of safety restored.
I shall take the heroic suffering of pain, and the miracle of health.

I shall take one starry night in Quang Tri, and one noon standing in the center of the warlord’s temple.
I shall take the wisdom of diversity and the communion of laughter.
I shall take all my friendships, bright and faint.
I shall take my memories and my dreams.

I shall leave… these words, these thoughts, these breaths.