my poem

For those who seek a different wisdom to the prevailing wisdom, an alternative story to the one often told.

‘I sit, alert
behind the small window
of my mind and watch
the days pass,
strangers,
who have no reason
to look in.’*

Will this wisdom come to us?  Or must we seek the story?

Whilst reflecting on these words from John O’Donohue I reread some words that caught my attention a year ago:

‘All great spirituality is somehow about letting go.’**

Understanding spirituality in its widest sense, I’m wonder if there’s something I must let go if the different story is to come – what my friend Alex McManus has called the ‘open possibility of tomorrow.’^

Another  note catches my eye, this time from Gretchen Rubin:

“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”^^

I must miss so many things when I’m not ready.

But sometimes we’re never ready.  What then?

So I wonder how we can make ourselves ready.  That is, how we might open and increase our readiness, though I suspect it isn’t easy.  What if we notice something we want to see some change in?

Jean-Pierre Siméon’s book This is a Poem that Heals Fish tells the story of a child discovering what a poem is and what it does.  Arthur’s fish Leon is stricken with boredom.  His  mother tells him to give the fish a poem, and then leaves for a tuba lesson!  He is left searching for a poem.  After searching in the kitchen to no avail be, Arthur begins to ask people to describe a poem.  Each person gives a different answer; his grandfather tells him:

“A poem, well … It’s what poets make. … Even if the poets do not know it themselves.”*^

After all the answers the boy returns to his fish confused.  He begins by saying he doesn’t know what a poem is but continues with what he knows from all the answers he’s been given – this is, of course, his poem

A poem
is when you have the sky in your mouth.
It is hot like fresh bread,
when you eat it,
a little is always left over.

A poem
is when you hear
the heartbeat of a stone,
when words beat their wings.
It is a song sung in a cage.

A poem
is words turned upside down
and suddenly!
the world is new.*^

This story contains many things but here are two.

Arthur begins with his concern for Leon and a journey begins.

His grandfather’s response really is pointing to how we all have a poem – and we may not know this.  We may use the same words as others, but differently, in telling about the things that matter to us.

The magic of a poem is how we are able to make more with less.

I’ve just picked up Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Step to a Compassionate Life.  Armstrong by telling how she was granted a wish for a better world by TED, so she launched a charter for compassion.

I love the idea of this but we don’t have to wait for TED or anyone else to grant us a wish.  We’ve been granted one already.  We also get to make it come true:

‘You can’t receive what you don’t give,’ as Eckart Tolle said^*

This is about our poem.

When I notice what it is
I notice,
when I turn my attention
to this,
bringing my hands to what I see,
I am discovering
my poem.

(*Cottage, from John O’Donohue’s Echoes of Memory.)
(**From Richard Rohr’s The Naked Now.)
(^From Alex McManus’s Makers of Fire.)
(^^From Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.)
(*^Grandfather in Jean-Pierre Simeon’s This is a Poem that Heals Fish, quoted in Maria Popova’s BrainPickings.)
(^*From Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth.)

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