The Invitation – Oriah


I have likely shared this poem before – it’s one of my favorites.  I wanted to share it again with new information about how the poem came about. Oriah writes on her website that she went to a dinner party and was disappointed in herself that she was anti-social and she was ‘frustrated at the superficial level of the social interaction at the party’.

She also states that it is a ‘story of a very human woman who longs to live fully awake… a story of the human heart’s capacity and longing to live intimately with all of it… the joys, the sorrows, the hopes and fears’.   Enjoy!

The Invitation – 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,

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.

4 responses to “The Invitation – Oriah

  1. WOW!! Had not read that poem before but it certainly is powerful. Makes me feel that I want to share this with others who only want to know where you live, how much you make and what toys you own. But then they might not get what this poem is saying. Thanks for this one.

    • Thanks, Cathy. I’m currently taking Women & Aging for my Grad Studies and I am going to read this as my presentation of ‘Do you know how I feel’. I agree- it’s so powerful. Oriah has an entire book based on the poem – I think you’d like it.

  2. I found myself taking huge deep breathes reading this. I have never read this before either but feel as though I may need to post it on my front door- of my heart.

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