I’ve just been slammed. With poetry and wise words, that is. First a little background. A few years ago I tried to do a poetry project—memorizing a poem a day for 100 days. I abandoned the project after about 40 days, but continued to READ a poem every day—either as part of a time of spiritual meditation and prayer, or as creative inspiration for my writing. I probably read a poem about 4-5 times a week nowadays.
But this week several things have happened to re-ignite my interest in poetry. First of all a writer friend sent out this amazing poem in a group email with a few other writers and it blew me away. It was “Budda’s Dogs” by Susan Browne. You can read the entire poem here. I’m only going to quote a small part of it:
I wake up
for the forgiveness meditation, the teacher saying, never put
anyone out of your heart,
and the heart opens and knows it won’t last and will have to
open again and again,
Never put anyone out of your heart. Not even people who have hurt you. Not even people who are hard to forgive. Not even your enemies, right?
The poem was still on my heart when I met with some writers last night. Just as we were about to wrap up our meeting, one of them began spontaneously reciting another poem, “Who Says Words With My Mouth?” by Rumi. (Again, you can read the entire poem here.) From the opening stanza:
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.
The poem captures the struggle of the journey, the unknowing, and yet the perseverance of the soul. I probably won’t memorize it, but I hope parts of it will stay with me forever.
The final inspiration came to me today in a quote from today’s reading in the Orthodox Calendar and Lives of the Saints. It’s by Archimandrite Sophrony of Essex, England, disciple and biographer of Saint Silouan the Athonite. It’s not a poem, but it’s very powerful. I’ll close today’s post with his wise words:
Everything that you gain in your inner battles will be reflected in your life in God. Struggle against every passion which arouses in you critical thoughts about others. Do not accept what the enemy suggests to you against someone who is unjust towards you. Whether you are alone in your room or in company, every critical thought, every negative inner movement, creates a crack in your spiritual fortress and in that of your community. No thought is born or passes without consequence. With good thoughts, you will be able to see in every person that you meet someone very beloved. With negative thoughts, on the contrary, our facial expression and your psychological energies will spoil your relationships and affect the environment around you. When grace is with us, we do not see the defects of others; we only see the sufferings and the love of our brethren.