Slowing Down and Finding Words

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I don’t know what this post is about.  It’s a ramble and I apologize upfront.

I’ve been having trouble lately putting words to the images, thoughts and feelings I experience.  It’s not that I can’t recall them, it’s just that I’m struggling for the right fit – the perfect description.  Maybe I’m just exhausted.  Well, it halts me in my tracks.  I get frustrated and end up writing clichés or simple phrases just to hold on to the moment.

Last Friday was the most beautiful September day.  As I walked from my car to the school door, carrying my bags and coffee in hand, I caught sight of the horizon.  Fog blanketed the playground and a layer of dark clouds rested along this horizon.  Just at the crust of these clouds, light beamed.  The sun, not showing itself yet, was announcing it’s arrival. The entire sky was glowing with rays of light.  I stopped for a moment to take in its beauty. It filled me.  I had no words.

At lunch, as I walked to the mailbox, I heard honking above.  As I craned my neck to the sky, hundreds of geese flapped their wings in the most magnificent V of geese I have ever seen – all heading south.

Again.  I stopped to take in the awe.

A boring description – again, I apologize.

As I reached for a poetry book off my shelf this morning, John O’ Donohue, one of my favorite poets and also an Irish teacher, jumped into my hands.

Here was his first poem:


Somewhere, out at the edges, the night
Is turning and the waves of darkness
Begin to brighten the shore of dawn

The heavy dark falls back to earth
And the freed air goes wild with light,
The heart fills with fresh, bright breath
And thoughts stir to give birth to color.

Oh my heavens.

The words I had been clamoring for.

I printed it off and pasted it to my September Birthday Poems collection.

John O’ Donohue understands poetry.  He put words on the page to paint the description of my experience.

For this, I am grateful.

Each day, we have moments of awe.  It’s difficult to describe their significance and maybe we don’t have to.  We can just feel them.  But, sometimes, I want to put it in writing.

John O’Donohue describes it as such:

There is a quiet light that shines in every heart.  
It draws no attention to itself, thought it is always secretly there.
It is what illuminates our minds to see beauty,
our desire to seek possibility, and our hearts to love life.
Without this subtle quickening, our days would be empty and wearisome, 
and no horizon would ever awaken our longing.
Our passion for life is quietly sustained from somewhere in us
that is wedded to the energy and excitement of life.
We enter the world as strangers who all at once become heirs
to a harvest of memory, spirit, and dream that has long preceded us
and will no enfold, nourish, and sustain us.
The gift of the world is our first blessing.

There are days when it seems these quiet gifts of the world come pouring in.  There are other days where it feels like God forgot that I’m still here.  Perhaps other people need more, on those days, and He thinks I’ll be fine.  But really, it’s the days that I am so consumed with the pace of life that I am blind to what is in front of me.

Slow down, I hear.

Slow down.

The moments are there.

And the words will appear.

 

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A Poem A Day: Birthday Gifts To Me

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There is something about a poem that reaches into your soul and grabs you there.  A poem can speak loudly in so few words  causing you to pause for a moment to say the words over in a hope that they might land in your memory for you to retrieve at a later time.

Maybe that’s why I love them so much.

When life moves into auto pilot, I neglect poetry.  But, somehow, it always seems to find it’s way back to me.  We are like old friends – so grateful to have crossed paths again and we reminisce for a spell.

September is my birthday month.  I enjoy giving myself small birthday gifts during the entire month of September.  These gifts do not usually cost anything; a walk along the river, a drive to the library or finding a small space amongst the trees in my backyard to write.  The best gifts are free.

This month, I’m giving myself the gift of poems.  A poem a day.

Some poems are from my poetry books, some I write.

Today’s poem found me.

Garrison Keillor, at his website, The Writer’s Almanac, posts a poem a day, along with other literary and historical notes about the current day in history.  It’s a lovely site.

Today’s featured poem was written by Kate Barnes.  Kate’s words could be my own words as I reflect on my birthday, time and getting older.  I’m only 51 years old, but I appreciate poetry that celebrates getting older.  We need to look forward to what many are not able to.

Here is her poem.

And my gift to myself today.

Future Plans

by Kate Barnes

When I am an old, old woman I may very well be
living all alone like many another before me
and I rather look forward to the day when I shall have
a tumbledown house on a hill top and behave
just as I wish to. No more need to be proud—
at the tag end of life one is at last allowed
to be answerable to no one. Then I shall wear
a shapeless felt hat clapped on over my white hair,
sneakers with holes for the toes, and a ragged dress.
My house shall be always in a deep-drifted mess,
my overgrown garden a jungle. I shall keep a crew
of cats and dogs, with perhaps a goat or two
for my agate-eyed familiars. And what delight
I shall take in the vagaries of day and night,
in the wind in the branches, in the rain on the roof!
I shall toss like an old leaf, weather-mad, without reproof.
I’ll wake when I please, and when I please I shall doze;
whatever I think, I shall say; and I suppose
that with such a habit of speech I’ll be let well alone
to mumble plain truth like an old dog with a bare bone.

“Future Plans” by Kate Barnes from Where the Deer Were. © David R. Godine, 1994. Reprinted with permission.