ferns growing beside a narrow side door in the chapel wall at Tocal

Returning from a conference on the theme of ‘life and living’ at Tocal Agricultural College in the Hunter Valley,  I feel broadened and deepened by the wisdom of Craig Holdrege of the Nature Institute, of Helmy Abouleish, the leader of Egyptian community Sekem, and of Gunther Hauk of Spikenard Farm. This came after four days in Melbourne at the moral technologies conference basking in the teaching of Orland Bishop* of Shadetree Multicultural Centre. After these fruitful days of conversation, creative activity and community, I return to my own tiny cottage and to my personal circle of influence committed to starting where I am, and listening for where I am called to act.

As I left the Hunter Valley yesterday, I noticed the difference between judgment and love through a few conversations. I know that ‘love’ can be a cliché, a sentimental escape, or we can choose to make it a way of encountering each other truly and of turning towards the world with benevolence. In Italian, the deepest form of love is often expressed by the words ‘ti voglio bene’ (I wish ‘good’ for you).

Our way to love is often through the narrow door of our woundedness, through the pain we experience as beings of the earth, as humans, in our encounters with each other. This for me is one of the messages of Easter, an opportunity through our capacity for meaning making to transform our woundedness to love.

These two poems were inspired by encounters at the conferences.


My wound becomes the gap
in which our tears may fall
so I can look at myself in your gaze
and we meet as I.

Your wound becomes the crack
in which our tears may fall
so you can look at yourself
in my gaze and we meet
as I.

Our hearts become the doors
to spaces where the questions form
that let us know what lies beyond
our sight.

Our talk becomes the space
in which we can begin
to entertain the future that we love.

become 2

when my words drip
with judgment
I leave a poison trail
in front of me
in which I have to

and all that
I am witness to
is dead

to what it would become
if I could learn to let
my words be steeped
in love

Clare Coburn

*You can watch Orland Bishop’s contributions on youtube beginning here with Day One (there are four episodes in all). An inspiring encounter with what it means to be a social human being in our age.





4 thoughts on “become”

  1. Beautiful poems Clare. Very deep observations and meaning….

    Somehow this paragraph speaks to me mostly, probably because this talk, in which such space, if created could bring a healing and a way to approach all challenges, does not takes place…

    Our talk becomes the space
    in which we can begin
    to entertain
    the future
    that we love.

    I am however not sure about this “I wish good for you” as a deepest expression of love…
    I can wish well for my enemy, but really does it mean I love him/her?

    It would be easy to say I do not understand because I am not Italian, but I feel there is some deeper meaning to it. If somone can bring some light to it for me, please do?

    1. Thanks, Agnieszka, I see the distinction between ‘I love you’ almost as a possession or as loving someone who serves my needs. This is a different notion from a kind of love where I want you to experience what is good for you through my love of you or even from our difficult encounters.

    2. I had a message from someone whose response clarifies this. She writes: My understanding of ‘ti voglio bene’ is ‘I love you’ and it takes on the meaning depending on who it is you are saying it to. If you are saying it to a family member it is understood as that type of love, eg. mother/daughter; sister/brother. If you are saying it to a friend, it is a friendship love. It’s usually expressed with friendships that have seen some years through. However if you are saying it to your partner, it is another way of expressing the words ‘I love you. The common thread in all of these is that when I say ‘ti voglio bene’ it does mean I love you in that I really care about you without conditions/expectations.

  2. Great poems Clare – thought provoking and inspiring as always. Thank you for posting them.

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