I read older poems I’ve written and try to find myself in them. They feel vaguely foreign, memories of writing faded and far away. It makes me feel strange to read them, making me wonder about the intersection of heart and mind and truth and imagination when we write.
What motivated those words and ideas? Why communicate them? Why write them down? Did the ideas exist before I wrote them? Or did they come into being only through my writing–meaning they would not have existed if I never wrote them at all?
Is what we create something that remains a part of us? An articulation of the heart and mind upon a page? Or is what we’ve created separate from us, an unowned thing the moment we set down our ideas and move them from brain to heart to public view?
And what does it mean when the words come more easily than others? Are the ones that come fast, with seemingly little effort, more true than the ones born from hard-pressed work, the result of blood, sweat and tears? How do we measure the ache to articulate ourselves even when we worry we have nothing really to say?
Sometimes the words for me come easily. But this usually happens when I am writing regularly, my mind sharpened and ready to articulate ideas. And this past week, I didn’t push myself to write creatively. No journal entries. No poetry. I did write to complete assignments–emails and social media posts. But I didn’t do the deeper work of checking my heart and giving it voice. Did it have something to say and I missed it? Will I forever be missing a part of me because I didn’t honor the ever-present opportunity to dig deeper into who I am and what God has for me? After all, can’t writing that taps into the deepest places in us be a form of prayer?
I think there is value in the struggle of writing, especially when it is hard. Writing that prompts contemplation leads us to a deeper discovery of our selves. How you feel matters. What you think matters. There is so much we miss when we go from one moment to the next, day after day, week after week, without pausing and considering how what we feel and think leads to our actions, things we take for granted unless we live with intention and purpose each day.
It sounds strange, I know, but when I sat down today and opened a notebook I had not written in for a whole week, I felt like I had missed something. For a whole week, I didn’t pause and stop to listen to what my heart had to say. I wonder what it felt? I wonder what I could have learned?
We have much to discover in the search for true words. Let’s keep leaning in, full of wonder and expectation, knowing that what we have to say–even to just ourselves–is worth listening to. Writing is one of the tools of self-awareness, opening us up to deeper healing. It matters.
For the Loop Poetry Project this week, write a poem that reflects an exploration of your heart–a deeper awareness birthed from the processing of your feelings. What has happened to you this week that has caused you to feel emotion? Return to that moment. Enter into it again and examine it. Go deeper. Pause and feel the emotions that surface. Describe the realization that comes from the examination of how and why you have thought and felt the way you did. And if you can’t figure out why you feel or think the way you do, write about that–the confusion, the lack of clarity, the mystery you long (or don’t long) to uncover.
Share your poem here, in the comments below, or in the private Facebook group, Loop Poetry Project. I can’t wait to learn what you think about this topic and what your experience was like diving in!
*You can read my poem below, as well as the prayer I felt moved to pray in response to it.
There are parts of me I want to keep separate
from every person in the world
—let them remain
though not preserved in a false state
with no need to be improved.
It feels less complicated somehow
to let selfishness do its work:
pull the parts away, discourage joining
(where they may enjoy cohabitation)
even if this means convincing
myself over and over that
I don’t need you; being alone
is the first thing I never need to die.
Father, rid me of this attitude of self-preservation. Rid me of this lie that I must self-focus in order to survive. It has been my idol since I was a child. Take it now. You are my protector, not me. You have made me more capable of love–of loving people–than I have let myself realize. I want to enter into the new place of trusting You more than myself. Release me from my self-prison. I step out now, throwing away the key.