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THE INVITATION by Oriah


I wrote the prose poem, The Invitation one night after returning home from a party…

 I don’t usually attend parties but on this occasion, berating myself for being anti‐social, I made an effort to go and be friendly. I returned home feeling frustrated, dissatisfied with the superficial level of the social interaction at the party. I longed for something else.

As I write in the beginning of my book The Invitation is “. . . a declaration of intent, a map into the longing of the soul, the desire to live passionately, face‐to‐face with ourselves and skin‐to‐skin with the world.”

It is the story of a very human woman who longs to live fully awake. It is the story of the human heart’s capacity and longing to live intimately with all of it‐the joy and the sorrow, the hope and the fear.


The Invitation 

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living. 
I want to know what you ache for 
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.


It doesn’t interest me
how old you are. 
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
 for love 
for your dream
 for the adventure of being alive. 

It doesn’t interest me
 what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
 if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals 
or have become shriveled and
 closed from fear of further pain. 


I want to know
 if you can sit with pain
 mine or your own 
without moving to hide it 
or fade it 
or fix it.


I want to know
if you can be with joy 
mine or your own 
if you can dance with wilderness 
and let the ecstasy fill you
 to the tips of your fingers and toes
 without cautioning us
to be careful 
to be realistic
 to remember the limitations
 of being human.


It doesn’t interest me
 if the story you are telling me
is true. 
I want to know if you can
 disappoint another 
to be true to yourself. 
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul. 
If you can be faithless 
and therefore trustworthy.


I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it’s not pretty,
every day.
 And if you can source your own life
 from its presence. 
I want to know
if you can live with failure,
yours and mine,
and still stand on the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
 “Yes”


It doesn’t interest me
 to know where you live
 or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
 weary and bruised to the bone
 and do what needs to be done
 to feed the children.


It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
 I want to know if you will stand
 in the center of the fire
with me and not shrink back.


It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
 you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you
 from the inside
 when all else falls away.


I want to know
 if you can be alone
 with yourself
and if you truly like
 the company you keep
 in the empty moments.
~

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
(The Invitation was published by HarperONE, San Francisco in the spring of 1999. 
It became a best‐seller and has been translated into over fifteen languages around the world.)


Oriah is first and foremost a story-teller, a lover of words and symbols and the stories that lift our spirits, open our hearts and offer us ways to see patterns and create meaning in our lives. The focus of her life and work has been an on-going inquiry into the Sacred Mystery. Oriah was raised in a small, wilderness community in Northern Ontario. A graduate of Ryerson University’s social work program and a student of Philosophy at the University of Toronto she has facilitated groups, offered classes and counseled individuals for over thirty-five years. Her daily practice includes ceremonial prayer, yoga, meditation and writing. Oriah is the author of several best-selling books all published with HarperONE, San Francisco, found here. Oriah is the mother of two grown sons and lives in Toronto, Canada. You may visit her at her website here, on Facebook, or e-mail her at mail@oriah.org.

~If you are interested in seeing your poetry appear in this blog, or submitting a poem by a woman that has inspired you, please click here for submission guidelines. I greatly look forward to hearing from you!~ 

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