Poetry as Spiritual Practice: Part 2

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WRought Iron L.L. here, with Random Acts of Poetry—tired of church-talk, overstuffed with spiritual admonitions, and just plain bored. I think the Internet has played a part in bringing me to this place. I find myself thirsty for sounds that whisper and coo, sights that arrest, glory I can touch in ordinary places. Sure, spiritual talk has its place. Analysis has its value. Yet these words from Ruth Haley Barton, who once felt a similar sense of disillusionment, resonate… “In Western culture in particular, we are predisposed to a certain kind of reading. We have been schooled in an informational reading process that establishes the reader as the master of the text. As the reader, I employ key techniques that allow me to use the text to advance my own purposes. With this kind of reading, the intent is to cover as much ground as possible as quickly as possible. Our emphasis is primarily on mastery, that is, controlling the text for our own ends—gathering information, interpreting or applying the information, proving our point about something, gaining a ministry tool or solving a problem.” Recently, Claire Burge, a new blog-friend, left this comment on one of my posts… “I find myself turning to poetry more and more to hear God speaking…” I wonder if it isn’t because Claire senses a different dynamic than ‘mastery’ when she places herself before a poem. Maybe she allows herself to do what Donald Hall suggests, “To read the poem, you must stop paraphrasing, stop ‘thinking’ in the conventional way, and do some receiving instead.” Receiving is at the heart of submission, a biblical suggestion for finding deeper life together. Could reading poetry be an unexpected exercise in submission? Could it take us to the place where we can hear once again, see afresh, touch with tenderness? Might we sense God moving through broken lines, silences, words that fizzle, pop or murmur? When we started Random Acts of Poetry, we entertained the notion that poetry can be found not only in poems but also in certain kinds of expressive writing. So, see if you can’t find some poetry and glory in this poignant post, and let yourself simply receive… Excerpt from The Unknown Contributor’s We're Not in Kansas Anymore, Toto Standing there, I remembered with guilty intimacy the guttural cries that had come from this young woman just days earlier when the neurologist broke the news… (continue reading) Then, Megan Willome tried this week's poetry prompt, which urges us to receive words and phrases from the ordinary people and places we encounter. Here's a poem she put together from phrases in a swimsuit catalog... Swimsuit Miracle My wife looks AWESOME. Cinch Cast off Faille flatters Shirred bodice sits high Spot-lift off the beaten path Modesty shirring, lush and fair Timeless style Tugless adjustability Butterfly bikini No one gets kicked off this island. Monica tried the prompt too. Here's an excerpt of "Learning": All I have to do is keep the marker moving And remain unafraid Of green ink on fingers and unicorn’s mane. Laura gathered conversation for her poem "Healing Hands", excerpted here... Don’t hold on so tight. It’s not that heavy. It’s only life. If you would like to participate in Random Acts of Poetry, read here for instructions. Our next prompt (please post by June 18) is to begin, middle, or end a poem with "I spied God in (choose a specific object... a chrysalis, your mailbox, the dishwasher, an old teapot; what did God look like, what was God doing, did it surprise you?) All RAP Participants Marika's Repair Yvette's Doors Milton's Seasons and Nicodemus Monica's Learning Sarah’s Strands Ann’s Soul ADD and Burning Bush Laura’s Conversation Simple Country Girl's Book RAP Marcus's Liturgy of Seasons Deb's Wrenched TUC's Fell Down Today LL's Black Box Sarah's Way With Words Laure's Silences Liz's Sirens RELATED ARTICLES High Calling Blogs' Poetry as Spiritual Practice: Part 1 French Cathedral photo by J Barkat. Used with permission. Post written by L.L. Barkat.

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