Needs

There are basic needs:
Food, shelter, safety from violence—
Needs that you die from if they aren’t met.
Then there are needs,
Needs you won’t die for lack of,
But without which, life is sad, dark, and small:
A comfortless grey drizzle that oppresses by degrees
Until you wonder if life itself is really
Such a wonderful thing.
Friends, affection, sexual intimacy,
A sense of contribution and sharing,
Community, belonging—
These are the soul-needs,
Needs nature hammered into us
More subtly, but no less certainly.

In the country where I was born
Basic needs are a given,
But millions are afflicted by the wounds
Of unmet soul-needs.
I am one of the wounded, bleeding slowly,
Always bleeding
Like Amfortas wounded by the Holy Spear,
Trying to hold the heart-wound shut with my hand,
But wounded seemingly beyond healing.
Life is too hard,
Sorrow too omnipresent and inevitable…
Livelihoods are threatened and brought to ruin.
Friends drift apart. Friends die.
Lovers sometimes betray.
Sickness, aging, and loss await everyone.
There must be some balancing measure,
Something to brighten the drear,
Else what futility!
I have named that measure
Yet I somehow have not found it,
At least not with a certainty I can take hold of.

George Chadderdon 2005