By Rev. Anna Blaedel
Hafiz sings, “A poet is someone who can pour light into a cup, then raise it to nourish your beautiful parched holy mouth.”
Mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead imagined God as the Poet of the World, always and everywhere and with every one manifesting a “tender care that nothing be lost.” (He also recognized loss as everywhere, always.)
I confess: I do not know how to live in this world where both love and loss, holiness and haunting, parched holy mouths and nourishment are so devastatingly and delightfully abundant. I do know that I turn to poetry as a resource for theology, as liturgy, as prayer. I also know that in so doing, I access and participate in a rich and ancient lineage of other seekers, mystics, theologians, and believers who trust that the Divine comes to dwell in unexpected and mysterious ways, and that Divine power is never further than our next breath, the next gathering of care and witness and withness, the next poem, the next glimpse of beauty, or the next act of tender care when all seems lost. I confess: I believe practices of gratitude and grief are both vitally important to living faithful lives in this world of wonder and wounds.
So, here, I offer three bits of poetry for your prayer time and life practice, with the hope and prayer that they deepen your connection to Life, and invite us into ever deepening ways of tending to the most vulnerable lives, with tender care. In so doing, we participate in communion with the Divine, and becoming attentive to ways we can participate in enfleshing God’s kindom of justice, love, and fierce and care.
by Ross Gay
A Small Needful Fact
Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like concerting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.
(Four years ago this July Eric Garner was murdered. We will never know what kindnesses, what acts of tender care, generosity, creativity, what possibilities have been forever foreclosed. Breath is Spirit is Life. White supremacy extinguishes breath, and Spirit, and life.)
by Rubem Alves, Brazilian theopoet who often speaks of God as Longing, Liberation, Nature, Beauty, Love, Imagination
“An infinitude of birdsong mixes with the sound of leaves blown by the breeze. I am not alone. Many other people dedicated to the exercise of morning walks and runs keep me company. They are there in fear of dying before their time. It’s necessary to exercise the heart. But it seems that’s all they’re exercising. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t manage to see in their faces signs that they are also exercising the delight of their eyes, noses, and ears. They run and walk with eyes fixed on the ground, serious and focused, compelled by medical necessities. And for that reason they do not know how to see and hear, can’t handle a stirring love affair unrolling before them. I’d been sensing romance for a while when I heard sighs came from on high. Up there, far from indiscreet eyes, a giant eucalyptus and a cork tree embrace. Their intertwined branches manifest the passion of lovers. I think they’re making love because as the wind makes their bark rub against each other, they moan with pleasure…and pain. I walk all morning. For medical reasons, it’s true. But, even if they didn’t exist, I’d walk the same way, with the light and joyful thoughts that nature makes me think. Nature is a good psychoanalyst, charging nothing for the dreams of love she makes us dream.”
(It is so very easy to rush from place to place, home to school to work to store to gym. It is so very easy to lose touch with Life, in the rush of daily life. Can you find some time today to take a walk or sit in the breeze, attentive to the dreams of love in God’s glorious creation, available to us by exercising the delight of our eyes, noses, and ears?)
by St. Francis of Assisi
I once spoke to my friend, an old squirrel, about the Sacraments—
he got so excited
and ran into a hollow in his tree and came
back holding some acorns, an owl feather,
and a ribbon he had found.
And I just smiled and said, “Yes, dear,
May it be so.