The First Promise

Sometimes you need to hide
from everything
you’ve promised to become,
so you can find the first promise—
the one you and the soft world
sang to each other

down beneath the tall bushes
along the old stream bed,
when nobody knew
exactly where you were,
back before the person
everyone needed you to be
learned to find you even there.

Those bushes are gone now
but the sanctuary still waits—
in the quiet places under trees,
in the spacious darkness
of a solitary night—
and if you learn again
how to hide, even from

the expectations you’ve
mistaken for your own,
you’ll find that the world still knows
your secret harmony,
and that some brave and
brokenhearted voice in you
never stopped singing.

I recently published a new book that features this poem plus many others to accompany you through every season of life.

It’s called The Wilderness That Bears Your Name.

You can see all the details here:

This is a poem of permission. A lot of people wish they could push pause for a little while, but they’re afraid to show any uncertainty about the life they’ve constructed for themselves. They’re afraid it would mean they’ve failed. That they’ll be forgotten. That they’ll disappear.

But if you don’t step back sometimes, chances are you’re neglecting some deeper, unheard part of you. And so what you’re giving to the world lacks the fullness that we need from you.

The truth is that hiding from the world is one of the central competencies of being alive. Every animal knows how. Every plant can bury its aliveness in the earth. You knew, at some point.

This poem is permission to remember, and to discover what might be waiting for you there.


  1. Brother, this is beautiful. Thank you for this. I’m studying “The Fifth Agreement” again right now and your words are so perfectly in line with that teaching. Good stuff!

Leave a Reply