Saturday, January 28, 2017

Why Poetry

Poetry requires another approach,  
one that slows things down  
and shifts one's mind-set  
from being goal oriented,  
information gathering,  
or relaxation seeking  
into being contemplatively receptive.  

The distillation of a handful of words  
can make one change gears,  
become fully present,  
sharpening the senses.  

Something cracks open within, 
reading or listening to a poem.  
A few words of a single poem  
can shift perception 
 in ways that change one's manner of being in the world.  

Poetry can bypass one's rational mind 
and speak directly to the soul 
through the power of images and metaphors.  

Reading poetry contemplatively  
challenges one to focus on slowly ingesting the words  
and letting them work their way into the heart. 

Nourishing self with a steady diet of poetry  
can enrich the soil of one's soul.  

Sitting in contemplative silence  
or quietly praying,  
a line of a poem may come to mind and suggest itself.  

The words of a poem can become a bridge to prayer, 
whether the words express gratitude, joy, sadness, petition, or lament.  

Poetry is a resource to offer encouragement, consolation, or support to others.  
I often write poems for friends grieving the loss of a loved one.  

Poetry connects one to men and women  
from different times, places, and cultures  
who have also wrestled with the big questions of faith and doubt,  
joy and sorrow,  
gratitude and loss, 
all of the glorious and terrible experiences. 

Poetry stretches across time to offer spiritual companionship.  

Poetry need not be explicitly religious  
or use theological language  
to nourish one spiritually.  
If poetry can do anything, 
 it can fortify one's inner life, inwardness. 

Whether or not I name God or not in my writing,  
good poetry speaks to our inner life as humans  
and to the place where God dwells within us.  

A real poem  
can suddenly make the amount of reality in life greater.  
Whether that reality is ecstatically joyful, sorrowful, or mundane, 
 poetry can make one more aware of and present to it 
and therefore more able to be receptive to God’s presence  
in the midst of reality.  

C.S. Lewis called poetry  
a little incarnation, 
 a manifestation of God’s presence in the world.  

Poetry can be a life-cherishing force.  
Poems are not just words,  
 but fires for the cold,  
light to guide the lost,  
something as necessary as bread  
for the hungry. 

I use poetry 
to carry me through  
and express 
the tough and the glorious moments  
of my spiritual life 
I so enJOY it. 

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