For the ones who choose to walk towards suffering

ZPI encourages reflections from retreat participants, staff, members & others touched by our work and doing similar work from around the world, as part of the practice of bearing witness. Kineret Ando Yardena, a poet, artist, chaplain and long time participant of many of the Zen Peacemakers bearing witness retreats, shares a poem that draws upon the practice of ZPI’s three tenets- Not Knowing, Bearing Witness, and Taking Action.  


For the ones who choose to walk towards suffering

trying to scoop it up,
to tend it

to carry it even for a pulse – before handing it back;

who move again and again toward the seeing, the bending, the scooping

even when what is scooped

instantly, impossibly

spills out like sand between the hollows and knuckle cracks of our fingers

leaving us unsure

if we have done any good.

It is a different kind of scooping.

It is a different kind of good.

Maybe that’s why against our better knowing

we keep choosing to walk towards suffering

when every other impulse, every other voice, would have us stop.

About the Author:

Kineret Ando Yardena is a ceremonialist and hospital chaplain, rooted in the Jewish, Zen, and Sacred Feminine Earth traditions. She is also a poet and artist, with a deep love and commitment to the earth. Kineret has co-facilitated and participated in numerous Zen Peacemaker street retreats, bearing witness plunges, council gatherings, and retreats in other traditions. She currently resides in Dallas, TX.

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For the ones who choose to walk towards suffering

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