Not everything is lost

8 May 2013
This poem has apparently been around for a while but when I read it for the first time this week it hit me right in the heart. I wanted to share it with those of you who haven't seen it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. What lessons it teaches.


Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal
Naomi Shihab Nye

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well — one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew — however poorly used -
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her — southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies — little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts — out of her bag —
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo — we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers —
Non-alcoholic — and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American — ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend — by now we were holding hands —
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate — once the crying of confusion stopped
— has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.



  1. That's a beautiful poem. I happen to live in Albuquerque but had never read it before. Thank you for sharing.

  2. This was wonderful! Tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing this.
    - yours Guri, Norway

  3. What a fabulous poem. So full of grace.

  4. This is absolutely beautiful. I'm glad I took a moment to stop and read it today. Have a blessed afternoon!

  5. Very touching. I love it too when race and religion are not a barrier. It doesn't happen as often as it should.

  6. How beautiful - thank you so much for sharing. It does hit straight in the heart, so thank you again. Not everything is lost indeed. Kirsten x

  7. Mutual respect, that is what the world needs...and cookies and laughter, Pam xx

  8. Lovely, thanks Rhonda. This is the world I want to live in too. We surround ourselves with like minded and kind people. It is heartening to know there are many others out there and we do notice them as we go about our daily lives. Jen

  9. Thank you! We have become afraid of life because of so many bad things that have happened lately, but we may miss out on something as special as this if we do not open ourselves up to others.

  10. so beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing !!

  11. Beautiful,Rhonda, thankyou :)


  12. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing this with us.

  13. Cindy LeclercqMay 08, 2013 7:42 am

    thank you Rhonda, this was a lovely post amd yes ,not all is lost. We just need to think of others from time to time, we all need a freind and sometimes a stranger can make the best friend of all.

  14. Wow. Amazing. I'd never seen it before and I thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  15. Maureen O'RourkeMay 08, 2013 8:11 am

    It is good to know that there are still people like this in our world. I have found that being friendly to people and saying hello makes my life happier. I love it when I see a sad person and after I smile at them, they smile back. I just know that eventually I will be known as that eccentric old bird, but I don't care.

  16. Wow - that is my cry for today (happy cry). Thank you for sharing, I had not read this before.

  17. So beautiful. Sometimes we just have to reach out to connect.

  18. This is really beautiful Rhonda I had never read it before, our world truly is a beautiful place when we take the time to see and connect.

  19. What a beautiful story. I hadn't come across that before.

  20. So moving. Thank you for sharing.

  21. Such a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing it. It gives me hope to read about good things that are happening.

  22. Thanks for the story, I needed that.

  23. What a beautiful story. And here I am feeling guilty that I couldn't have taken a cookie because I might have had an allergic reaction!

  24. That is absolutely beautiful...

  25. Beautiful. Just beautiful. Wherever they're flying....I want to go there too.

  26. lovely! thank you for sharing...perfect title...all is not lost x

  27. I read and shared with my friends and family. Thank you so much!

  28. That hit right into my heart, I even dropped few emotional tears. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Rhonda,

    Thank you. Beautiful. I have had the privilege of meeting the poet and she is as wonderful a person as the poem suggests.

  30. Oh, thank God! What a wonderful post and a wonderful poem. If we can just act like people, we will be all right.

  31. What a lovely post to wake up too. Today is going to be a beautiful because of it. It touched my heart and the tears of joy and wonder were rolling down my face and I was only half way through the poem. Thank you Rhonda for sharing this poem.

  32. Thank you for that. With tears in my eyes and the bar of hope for humanity raised another few notches higher I face the new day.

    There is so much bad news broadcast via tv, radio and newspapers that it is so easy to lose touch of the every day folk around us that are doing small, simple kindnesses, that when added together far outway any atrocities we might hear of.

    I dream of a news station or paper that only publishes good news, one that lifts our hearts and keeps us striving to be better people.



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