Be a Person

Be a person here. Stand by the river, invoke

the owls. Invoke winter, then spring.

Let any season that wants to come here make its own

call. After that sound goes away wait.


These are the words of the poet William Stafford in a poem entitled “Being a Person.”

If you were to ask me what is the hardest thing to do in life I would say it is to be a person. To be a person, without a doubt, stands as the most difficult thing in life. Be a black person. Be a white person. Be an Asian. Be a Native American. Be a Latino. Be a foreigner. Be a gay person. Be a Republican. Be a Democrat. Be a Christian. Be a Jew. Be a Muslim.


Being a person is the hardest thing in the world. If you doubt that, then I invite you to be a person. Try it for a day.


There is an African American saying: Be who you is; because if you is who you ain’t, you ain’t who you is.


I suspect that all God and life require of us is that we be the person we were created to be: not to get distracted, not to get attached to things or the wrong people, but just to be the person we were created to be.


Stanford ends the poem with these two lines:

How you stand here is important. How you

listen for the next things to happen. How you breathe.


Too often I find that I take a stance forgetting that it is more important “how” I stand than where or with what I stand. Tammy Wynette’s words come to mind: Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman. I say, it is true, because it is the hardest thing to be a person.


I don’t think I can offer you any easy answer. I could try, but I will refrain.


In the fullness of time being a person comes from breathing right now. Selah. Next blog: More on William Stafford