Accepting All of the Gifts

Accepting All of the Gifts
Each Moment a White Bull Steps into the World

~Jane Hirshfield

If the gods bring to you
a strange and frightening creature, 
accept the gift 
as if it were one you had chosen.

Say the accustomed prayers, 
oil the hooves well, 
caress the small ears with praise. 

Have the new halter of woven silver
embedded with jewels. 
Spare no expense, pay what is asked, 
when a gift arrives from the sea.

Treat it as you yourself
would be treated, brought speechless and naked
into the court of a king. 

And when the request finally comes, 
do not hesitate even an instant–
stroke the white throat, 
the heavy, trembling dewlaps
you’d come to believe were yours,
and plunge in the knife.

Not once 
did you enter the pasture 
without pause,
without yourself trembling,
that you came to love it, that was the gift. 

Let the envious gods take back what they can.
Oh, how I love this poem. 
Pay what is asked, when a gift arrives from the sea. “Gifts” can come with a price. I have been telling myself that I have a “gift” that can help me become more compassionate and less judgmental, and that gift comes with a hefty price. I am accepting an opportunity to have something I was afraid to have but wanted my entire adult life – freedom – and that “gift” comes with a price.
Each moment…. A moment can last forever, particularly, it seems, when that moment is harsh and painful. Other moments that can seem to last indefinitely are so bountiful with beauty and bliss that we wish those moments to not end.
The minotaur, one of the monsters Theseus and Odysseus had to overcome on their epic quests, was half bull, and was the result of Poseidon’s seductions over a woman. Poseidon, the god of the sea.
A bull is large, powerful, and strong. There is so much energetic possibility in the capability of that animal. A bull is also frightening and quite dangerous. 
And so, encountering such an overwhelmingly powerful and potentially dangerous event, such as that white bull, may frighten us, but if I understand Hirshfield correctly, we ought to accept that as the gift. Releasing the unbridled, uncut, untamed wild factor into our lives, and accept the gift… even as much as we might want to give it back…. And if I understand Hirshfield correctly, even if the gift seems inappropriate or the timing or the delivery is inconvenient or comes with pain and injury, but to accept the gift, and to surrender to what lies beneath the surface.
The white bull stormed into my life, and I have been fighting it, and attempting to bargain with it, because I did not ask for it and I did not want to pay what is (was) asked. I am particularly amazed, though, when I stopped fighting and stopped bargaining against my most recent white bull, the moment of my surrender brought peace, clarity, lessened the trembling, and gave me more strength. I may still have my moments of compounded trials that result in the attack such as last weekend, but I definitely feel more strength and resolve in what I know I need to do and in what I actively chose to do, the fear that haunted me for so long fades away.

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