‘The first breath of morning breaks the dark enough
to let the sky out of night, it gathers up
the trust of trees that leaned with such relief
against the dark, leaves them stripped and lost
to reach ever further into the nowhere of air.’*
John O’Donohue could have written, “It’s the morning and with the increasing light I can see more of my surroundings,” though this wouldn’t have caught my attention. Instead, by using familiar words in different ways, O’Donohue says more with less: I notice and I feel the dawn.
There’s something about a poet and her poem that can make us feel and value life while we have it. Soon enough it will be gone and we will be forgotten.
‘Let nothing bless
the human head
that climbed so high
to praise itself.’*
Whilst our willingness to be forgotten may be our greatest humility, this is not about death. It’s about life and joy. We’re not dead yet, so while we see the light coming each day to us, we have life.
‘One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.’**
‘The greatest art is an intersection of contrasts … pain and healing, despair and hope, darkness and light.’^
Our art is both myth and poem, holding together that which would normally be missed, helping us to see how things are and that we can overcome and live richly. I can miss what is already there.
In his pilgrimage, Paulo Coelho’s guide Petrus teaches a simple walking exercise. At first Coelho feels tortured but then he begins to see more:
“Walk for twenty minutes at half the speed at which you normally walk. Pay attention to the details, people, and surroundings. The best time to do this is after lunch.’^^
‘The world was there around me, and I realised that seldom had I paid attention to it.’^^
You are a poet, able to make more with less.
I leave the final word with Coelho’s guide Petrus:
“Changing the way you do routine things allows a new person to grow inside of you.”^^
(*From John O’Donohue’s Echoes of Memory: Betrayed by Light.)
(**From Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers’ The Power of Myth.)
(^From Erwin McManus’s The Artisan Soul.)
(^^From Paulo Coelho’s The Pilgrimage.)