It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel
if you can 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
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,
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love
and the bitter
unwanted passion of your sure defeat.
I have heard, in that fierce embrace,
even the gods speak of God.
From RIVER FLOW: New and Selected Poems
© David Whyte and Many Rivers Press
His note about this poem: Oriah took her work 'The Invitation', from this poem, which had been written many years before, after she had participated in a workshop I gave in Toronto, in which I used Self Portrait as an exercise in which people were asked to write their own versions. For reasons known only to herself, Oriah failed to attribute it. DW