Poetry requires another approach,
one that slows things down
and shifts one's mind-set
from being goal oriented,
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
the tough and the glorious moments
of my spiritual life
I so enJOY it.