I got a new notebook. It’s orange and floppy, with two orangeish threaded bookmarks embedded in the top of the spine. I write in it most days. Weekdays at 5:30 am. When my heart is awake and before my mind has a chance to speak.
When the alarm goes off I pull my legs over the side of the bed and try to not step on the dog. I take the notebook out of my bag that goes everywhere with me and crunch barefoot through gravel to the studio out in the back of our house.
A blue ballpoint pen. My reading glasses so I can see. My phone to use as a flashlight. Sometimes I light a candle. I sit in the dark until I worry I will fall back to sleep at my desk and then turn on the dim lights. I still need my flashlight to see a page.
It is a separate place. Not sacred. But holy all the same. It is a space for dreaming and claiming. Piercing and smoothing. Truth is found here. It tries to run, but I am practiced now at chasing it down.
It is time now to chase your truth down.
I will be honest with you. It isn’t easy most days. I write in the morning because I want nothing else to touch me before I coax a word out of hiding and invite it to share in the picture in my mind that I see. That is how I begin most days. With a few words, then a line. And I write it down–and then wait for another–before I question the game that is beginning.
These words, you see, are shy ones. Sweet and tentative. A little unsure of themselves. Afraid of not stepping up the right way. Nervous about getting it wrong. And then some words yell a bit. Angry and obstinate. Arms crossed and hip sticking out. Attitude raging. I have to be fierce sometimes. Tell them to chill. They are not the boss of the world. Get a grip.
For there is a story to begin.
And that is what I want to do with you. Write a story. Write a story of the heart. Mine. Yours. Let’s not think too much. Let’s let our hearts speak into a sacred room. Here are some thoughts I wrote in my orange journal two weeks ago. Finally, I muster the bravery to share them with you.
Poetry is a breaking open of things that are otherwise hidden–hidden from ourselves. We write to engage our hearts, a tool to commune with Holy Spirit, exploring the experience of being one with Him.
He is always after our healing. I believe that plunging deep into otherwise unexplored landscape–our heart and all its mystery–helps us awake our selves to life with God.
There are so many ways we are asleep. Our minds and bodies and souls are taking in experiences we need to appreciate in order to attain/experience/realize wholeness.
And we are after wholeness. Aren’t we?
So that is why we embark on this exercise of writing poetry. Think of it as journaling with all the scaffolding taken off–an opportunity to engage with your heart, what it senses and knows and feels, by looking at it from different angles.
- a story about a memory (the distillation of a moment you remember)
- the weight of the present (its smells and sounds and meaning)
- the expression of your heart’s reality, its dreams of the future (How can you communicate those cries of your heart?)
And now, how to begin? This is what I suggest we each do every day:
- READ: let’s read as much poetry as we can. Notice how a poem calls up within you a distinct emotion by focusing, usually, on the stretching out of a single moment or idea. Soon, I will be sharing with you poets I am loving to read these days. But I would suggest going to the library and checking out all the books that seem to be calling your name–or using all the amazing digital resources available on the web. What you love–what speaks to your heart–is going to be different than what speaks to me. Two places to begin: Poetry Foundation and On Being Poetry.
- WRITE: You can choose a prompt to spark creativity if that helps get you going. (I will post these prompts on my Instagram stories each week). Or let yourself just begin writing, one word at a time, not trying too hard and not censoring yourself. You are going to discover yourself in the scratching out of each word. Be kind to yourself. One word at a time.
- SHARE: At the bottom of future posts on this blog (start with this one!) you are invited to share a poem you have written. Now, I need you to not have the expectation that sharing here means that we are, technically, a writing group or club. I just believe that coming together, in the hidden spaces of our days, reaching into the otherwise undiscovered places within us and bringing them into the light, will create an opening in our hearts for God to speak.
- MORE THOUGHTS: And sharing your poems in a place we pray is sacred and good may prompt even deeper healing. But whether you share your words or not, the experience of writing them is a step toward healing. It is worth trying. I know you want healing too.
Another place we can share is on Facebook–and on Instagram. I am thinking about creating a private Facebook group for us to share our poems with one another. Comment below to let me know if that might be something you would like. In addition, we can share with one another on Instagram. If you have an account, consider sharing your poetry in posts or on stories there and using the hashtag #looppoetryproject so we can find each other and connect.
So, want to begin, with me? Go on over to my Instagram Story Highlight called Poetry Project to see a video of me talking about this!
From this one true heart,