Invitation and Reply

© Kitja

(for Ted Herman)

Come along with me,
His eyes on mine invite.

I’m sorry; I don’t think; I mean,
those shoes you wear (heavy, world-scuffed)
won’t fit my narrow feet.
That heart you wear (large size, strong beat);
mine’s not so, oh, so good if you must know.
Just let me be; I’m moving along
in my own way and my own time.
It hurts my step to stretch out so.

I wish they wouldn’t look at me,
those tired-wise, knowing eyes.
I want to just be one of those
who look admiringly at you.

Sweater gray, hair gray,
old man’s gentle breaking voice;
hands shake lightly as you speak
of Bosnia and the Balkans,
of little steps in building peace
in the East or closer to home,
of letters from Mother Teresa and
sharing prayer in unknown tongues.
Behind the stories, all the work:
Letters and e-mails,
papers to write, trips to plan,
and talking, endless talking
over cups of tea.

How do you do it—
surprise people with possibility,
with new vision for an old world?
How do you connect the real
and the dream?
How do you feed your faith?
And grow your hope?
(Could I ever be like you?)

Ted Herman (1913–2010) was a member of Lancaster (Pa.) Meeting, professor and peace activist, founder of a peace studies program at Colgate University, and an inspiring mentor of many.

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