I am feeling so many things at the same time right now. Gratitude that my husband and I just bought our first house, that we have healthy children, that we both recently started excellent new jobs.
At the same time I’m still processing the results of the recent election, and yes, I’m not happy with the results. I’m afraid of the future we are moving toward as a society. We seem to be in a place where objective truth no longer matters. We are jumping off a ledge into an abyss where the outcome on human rights, environmental protections, and foreign policy are all in question.
I also find myself questioning whether the efforts I have been making for years to make the world a better place even matter. Carefully sorting my recycling. Being an informed citizen who researches and then votes in elections. Donating to nonprofits. Signing petitions for causes I believe in. Trying to be kind. Praying. Going to church every Sunday so that I can work on becoming a better person. Telling the truth.
Does any of it matter?
I am not trying to be melodramatic. I am just being honest.
A few minutes ago I came upon this poem by Mary Oliver.
The Uses of Sorrow
(in my sleep I dreamed this poem)
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
I will continue to tell the truth. I will continue to make the same kinds of choices I’ve always made. I will fight even harder to live out Christ’s teaching to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Long live the resistance.
Tuesday night my mom and I went to hear former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins read at the library. It was a packed, standing room only crowd, pretty impressive for a poetry reading. We arrived about 10 minutes before the reading was scheduled to start and all the chairs had long been taken. We ended up sitting on the floor in front of the merchandise table, which turned out to be highly strategic, since we were able to be first in line to purchase a book and get it signed.
Billy Collins signs my copy of his new poetry collection.
Though he’s not (yet) one of my literary heroes, I do like Billy Collins. He seems authentic and warm. It’s nice to see a poet have a sense of humor about poetry. I’m sure that’s why he’s so popular. He makes poetry accessible to people. You don’t have to spend a lot of time analyzing his poems for meaning. They are what they are. He even said that poets aren’t thinking about the symbolic meaning of something when they write a poem, they are just writing.
I’m sure this depends on the poet. Of course your unconscious mind will create symbolism on its own, so if a writer is really tapping into their unconscious then their work might be rich with symbolism without them even trying. Take Homer’s Odyssey, for example. But I’m sure that plenty of poets use metaphor and symbolism quite intentionally.
So that’s the catch about Billy. What makes his poetry so popular is its simplicity and humor. But I love poetry that’s complex and that you have to really think about to understand. I really enjoy figuring out the hidden meaning in a poem. For Billy Collins, there is no hidden meaning. What you see is what you get. And maybe that’s enough.
you sleep so sweetly
in the warm afternoon sun
what do you dream of?
NaPoWriMo Day 22! I guess I’m in haiku mode. I wrote this and then realized it was a haiku afterwards. Now I’m afraid I must wake the sleeping beauty or she will not want to go to bed at the appropriate bedtime.
this morning we climbed
inside a cloud, mist rising
from the chasm below
I remember the sun
setting over the deep blue Pacific,
burnt orange and red hues
illuminating the palm-tree-lined sky.
I remember the feeling
of sand between my toes,
the humid tropical air,
the weightlessness of my body
floating in salt water,
and the sharp coral cutting
I remember us together
watching turtles bob back and forth
amidst the waves, as if time
did not exist.
When God lights you up,
pray big prayers.
Imagine what God can do,
as He illuminates the darkness
through your life.
God and His kingdom are here
and they’re breaking in.
This is a found poem, based on my notes from a sermon podcast I listened to this morning by Imago Dei’s Rick McKinley. I opened my journal to start working on today’s poem, and then I saw these notes and it seemed that the poem had written itself!
Who is the me that writes? (A Noir-ish Poem for Day 9)
The rain is falling oh so fast
and it feels like time is slipping past
‘cuz my reflection in the looking glass
who is the me that writes these words?
a mother, daughter, wife
& are you friend or foe?
i never know
who to trust on the roads of life
beware the ides of march, they say
but what of april late?
who knows what chaos will ensue
when we’re driven to create