Those of you who are tuned into spirituality may have created a daily practice around certain words and concepts. Gratitude, presence, non-resistance, patience, non-reaction, being, simplicity, compassion, surrender, and so on. But is it possible we cling to these “magic words” without taking the next step — without making these concepts come to life in our daily routines? When words (especially abstract words) are overused they tend to lose meaning and power.
Yet, we need spiritual markers.
We need words to identify and share our spiritual journey.
Sometimes you hear a voice
through the door calling you, as fish out of water
hear the waves, or a hunting falcon hears the
drum’s come back. This turning toward what you deeply love saves you.
So what is the answer … how can we give our spiritual practice depth and significance without getting bogged down in jargon? After all, it’s easy to talk about all the “right things” — to act the part, so to speak. But if the concepts aren’t actualized, where does that leave us?
Poetry, for one thing, can help us to dig deeper. By moving us beyond the surface of life, poets shine a light on what we sense but can’t articulate. Sometimes a poem helps us to notice life in new ways by pointing out what we have been overlooking.
I love this quote from the editor of Poetry Magazine, Christian Wiman: “Let us remember … that in the end we go to poetry for one reason, so that we might more fully inhabit our lives and the world in which we live them, and that if we more fully inhabit these things, we might be less apt to destroy both.”
What a great point.
I write poetry nearly every day, am working on my second full-length collection. Granted, I probably won’t finish it until 2013, but the process itself is inspiring. I’m eager to get to the keyboard, anxious to delve deeper into ideas lurking in the shadows. Often just a few key words or an intriguing phrase provide the catalyst for an entire poem. Maybe a question that haunts me is the creative spur. Something in nature, something unusual that I happen to observe, for instance, can also lead to poetry.
Here’s a poem I wrote about the affection many of us share for our hometown main streets. Even if we’ve moved away or haven’t been home in a very long time, often our memories keep the street alive and we find comfort in its lasting presence. In my hometown in central South Dakota, main street is still only two blocks long — one intersection, a few empty buildings, free parking, a new shop now and then, people coming and going. As soon as I see it, I’m a young girl again. It says home. It reminds me of holiday parades or stores long gone. It also reminds me of the passage of time and how, in many parts of the world, this scene would be difficult to imagine.
A Simple Story
My hometown main street
glows in my memory like a
candle that never burns down,
always bright, always there,
and while it still lacks fancy stores,
exotic boutiques, lovely coffee
shops, it has everything we need:
a one-way street, cars and trucks,
shop fronts and familiar faces, red
dahlia’s blooming in weathered barrels.
Yet, visitors often cringe at the
sight of its plainness, or shed a
few tears even, asking “where is
the mall?” with a vague expression
of distaste poorly hidden in dull
eyes clouded by something I call
sadness; so in thinking about this
lasting love story, I ask myself if
it’s me or them – yet, if I’m overly
critical, they are simply blind.
~ D.A. Hickman, August 2012
Poetry should… should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance. ~John Keats
So if there’s something you love, like poetry, remember to spend time reading it, writing it, savoring it. It will help you to inhabit your life more fully. Help you move beyond the habit of “magic words” into something more meaningful, relevant, tangible. And, yes, poetic.
Even if you think you lack appreciation for poetry, why not give it another try? Maybe you just haven’t found the right poet yet. Or the right collection of poetry. Let me know what you discover about yourself via poetry — how it helps you to deepen your spiritual journey.
Blog posts by DazyDayWriter @ work in SunnyRoomStudio: all rights reserved.