Today, February 21, 2013, in my noon yoga class, one of my students approached me and reminded me of a poem that I read, about 6 months ago, at the end of class. The poem was titled The Invitation by Oriah – have you heard it before?

I first stumbled across it while I was doing a work/study at Shoshoni Yoga Retreat. I was in Nederland one day, doing laundry at the local laundromat, a lovely hang out (NOT!) and I found the poem on a little sheet of paper on a folding table. Posted on the opposite side of the paper were details to a Mountain Jam that sounded like a little fun and lots of trouble for a girl living in an ashram trying to figure out what “spiritual life” was all about. Needless to say, I never made it to the party, but I hung onto the paper for the poem. It touched me deeply. I read it over and over to myself and thought: that is what I want from this lifetime. The poem described exactly who I want to be.

Years later, I happened to come across the poem after years of it being tucked away in an old journal. I decided to read it after a yoga class I taught, in dedication to my best friend who was moving away after 13 years of a deep, connected friendship. I ended up in tears, unexpectedly, in front of my whole class. I was quite embarrassed at the time – I thought I scared everyone away with my blubbering – but today, when Carlos came up and asked me to send him a copy of the poem, I realized that being vulnerable is being human, and we need to be that way (for ourselves and for each other) sometimes. Were you at that class, by any chance? Maybe you’d like a copy too…here it is…The Invitation, by Oriah.


The Invitation by Oriah

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love for your dream for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon… I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain mine or your own without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy mine or your own if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful to be realistic to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day.

And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure yours and mine and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.


By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming, from the book The Invitation published by HarperONE, San Francisco, 1999 All rights reserved