When I lived in Washington, DC, I sometimes needed a break from the pace of the city. On those days, I would walk northwest on Massachusetts Avenue, from Dupont Circle to the National Cathedral. Along the way, I’d stop and sit at the Kahlil Gibran memorial, set just off the street. This little-visited sanctuary is nestled between embassies, surrounded by trees. Some of his words are etched onto stone benches that face a fountain. Usually, I was the only one there.
A year and a half ago, I retraced this path with my husband. It was a warm late September day, and a construction worker sat taking a break from his project at a nearby embassy, eating his sandwich in the shade. Most of the trees were still green, but a few leaves had fallen. It was silent, except for the water.
I’m currently reading Gibran’s most famous work, The Prophet. The copy was given to me by my uncle. Every Christmas he gives me an old book from his collection, many of which were my grandparents’. This edition was published in the 1940s, and contains artwork by Gibran. Its pages are thick and cream colored. It’s the kind of book that makes me believe that no matter what technological advances are made, there will always be some books. Nothing can replace the feel of running your hand over the same page and reading the same words as your grandmother.
I was attending college in DC, and often vacillated between wanting to feel successful according to societal norms, and wanting to follow the work of my heart. At those times, I used to look the longest upon the words, “work is love made visible.” I felt reassured all over again when I found these words in the book the other night.
Gibran also writes, “when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.” Gibran’s words are one of those things that have bound me to life.
Oh, I love the story about reading from your grandmother’s book! And I can certainly relate to the (for me, ongoing) struggle between norms of success and one’s own work. Thank you for sharing the Gibran inscription… it’s beautiful, as is this whole post you’ve written.
Thank you, and thank you for your recent posts. I’m always so glad to read your writing!