Changing Seasons with Kahlil Gibran

Rainbow-colored leaves danced at my ankles, as I wandered through the Kahlil Gibran Memorial.

Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931) was a Lebanese-American artist, poet, writer and philosopher best known for his masterpiece, The Prophet. Gibran’s philosophies on peace, meditation, understanding, and rational debate are powerful and timeless. He is the third best-selling poet of all time, after Shakespeare and Lao Tzu.

In 1991, Gibran was honored with this outdoor sculpture garden on Massachusetts Avenue across from the British Embassy.

At the entrance, Gibran’s bronze bust grows out from an organic weaving of branches, foliage and doves.  Two pathways lead up to a circular arrangement of classical benches. The benches surround a fountain shaped as an eight-point star – symbolizing balance, harmony and cosmic order.

The space exudes tranquility.  Gibran quotes adorn the benches and surrounding areas –  including my favorite: “We live only to discover beauty, all else is a form of waiting.”

With the change of seasons literary nipping at my heals, I thought of a passage from The Prophet:

“You have been told that, even like a chain,
you are as weak as your weakest link. 
This is but half the truth. You are also
as strong as your strongest link.
To measure you by your smallest deed is
to reckon the power of the ocean by the frailty 
of its foam. 
To judge you by your failures is to cast 
blame upon the seasons for their inconstancy. 
Ay, you are like an ocean,
And though heavy-grounded ships await
the tide upon your shores, yet, even like an 
ocean, you cannot hasten your tides.
And like the seasons you are also,
And though in your winter you deny 
your spring,
Yet spring, reposing within you, smiles in
her drowsiness and is not offended.”

Seasons change.  Oceans ebb and flow.  We are constantly evolving, shifting and growing.  Falling is a part of life too – and sometimes it’s not so graceful as rainbow-colored leaves dancing in the breeze.  Gibran reminds us not to measure ourselves by our failures and weaknesses alone.

It is fitting that nature’s shifting is so forcefully present in these photos, as I strive to embrace Gibran’s message of steadiness and patience despite change.

Accepting the fall. Smiling through winter, knowing spring will come again. This is my Gibran-inspired motto.

Title: Kahlil Gibran, 1991
Location: 3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Sculptor: Gordon S. Kray
Landscape Architect: Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum
Funded by: Private Donations

2 responses to “Changing Seasons with Kahlil Gibran

  1. Magnificent!!! The beauty of your photos and words are a gift to all.

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