Extravagent Kindness: A Reflection – 2017

Fran Miller, Ph.D. ©


Is it not by his high superfluousness we know
Our God?  For to equal a need 
Is natural, animal, mineral:  but to fling
Rainbows over the rain
And beauty above the moon, and secret rainbows
On the domes of deep sea-shells,
And make the necessary embrace of breeding
Beautiful also as fire,
Not even the weeds to multiply without blossom
Nor the birds without music:
There is the great humaneness at the heart of things,
The extravagant kindness, the fountain
Humanity can understand, and would flow likewise
If power and desire were perchmates.

Robinson Jeffers
Carmel, California

This is probably the most beautiful poem I have ever read.  Every line is thought provoking and incredibly imaginative and descriptive.  But the line I want to reflect on here is this:  “There is the great humaneness at the heart of things, the extravagant kindness, the fountain humanity can understand and would flow likewise, if power and desire were perchmates.

We inevitably disappoint ourselves in our human relations, especially with those that are the closest to us.  It seems we can never respond with just the right supportive, empathic words, we can never completely restrain our reactions when frustration or irritation overcome our senses, and we can never come up with just the right and accurate adjectives and descriptors for those we love the most.  We can never reach a great humaneness.  We can never match the great humanness that is at the heart of things.  We can never come up with an extravagant kindness which is the fountain that we can understand,  and that we would emulate,  if that greatness was in our power,  if power and desire   —   were perchmates.