Sometimes if you move carefully through the forest,

breathing like the ones in the old stories

who  could pass a shimmering bed of leaves without a sound,

You come to a place whose only task

is to trouble you with tiny but frightening requests.

Conceived out of nowhere

But in this place leading everywhere.

Request to stop what you are doing

And to stop what you are becoming while you do it,

Questions that can make or unmake a life.

Questions that have patiently waited for you.

Questions that have no right to go away.

It does not interest me if there is one God

or many gods.

I want to know if you belong

or feel abandoned.

I want to know if you know despair or see it in others.

I want to know

if you are prepared to live in the world

with its harsh need

to change you. If you can look back

again with firm eyes,

saying: This is where I stand.

I want to know

if you know

how to melt into that fierce heat of living,

falling forward

to the center of your longing.

I want to know if you are willing

to live, day by day, with the consequences of love

and the bitter

unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even

the gods speak of God.



Het interesseert mij niet of er één god is of meerdere goden.

Ik wil weten of jij je thuis voelt of verlaten.

Of jij wanhoop kent of het kunt zien in anderen.

Ik wil weten

of je bereid bent te leven in de wereld

met haar sterke neiging

om jou te veranderen. Of je kunt omzien met ferme ogen en kunt zeggen:

Dit is waar ik sta.

Ik wil weten of jij weet hoe je kunt wegsmelten in die vurige hitte van het leven,

voorover vallend naar

het centrum van je verlangen.

Ik wil weten of je bereid bent om te leven,

dag na dag, met de gevolgen van


en de bittere ongewenste hartstocht

van je zekere verlies.

Ik heb gehoord dat in die onstuimige omhelzing,

zelfs de goden spreken van God.



Loaves and fishes

This is not the age of information

This is not the age of information.

Forget the news,

and the radio,

and the blurred screen.

This is the time

of loaves

and fishes.

People are hungry,

and one good word

is bread

for a thousand.



Brood en vissen

Dit is niet het informatietijdperk.

Dit is niet het informatietijdperk

Vergeet het nieuws

en de radio,

en het vervaagde scherm.

Dit is de tijd

van brood en vissen.

Mensen hebben honger

en één goed woord

is brood

voor duizenden.

David Whyte, River Flow 2007, Many Rivers Press
Translated by Walter Berghoef into Dutch