700. Joy in the morning

Joy in the morning.jpg

I wrote the following little poem in response to the story of the chronically sick man healed by Jesus at the pool of Bethesda, from the fifth chapter of the gospel of John. I wrote it several years ago, but finding it this morning in my papers gave me a surge of encouragement and energy. Maybe it will for you as well.

Repeat as Needed

Water stirring;
Grace entering;
Life calling;
Will assenting;
Hope rising;
Change coming;
Self standing;


[Photo: taken of a little weed that caught my eye while on a walk.]

675. Christian Wiman on reading and writing

Christian Wiman on reading and writing.jpg

Last Thursday, I skipped my coffee break, skipped my lunch, and left my desk midafternoon to go hear Christian Wiman speak and read at an event at the University of Minnesota sponsored by MacLaurinCSF, a Christian study center. Wiman, in case you don't know, is a "highly acclaimed" poet, former editor of Poetry Magazine, author of multiple books, including My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer, a book of prose about his "return to God" while fighting cancer. Currently, he teaches at Yale Divinity School.

Wiman was warm and generous in his reading and comments to the handful of us seated in the lecture room. It is always noteworthy when a public figure is warm and generous to a smaller than expected audience. The poems he read were the kind that made you want to push a pause button after each so you could let it sink in for awhile. My favorite poem he read was “My Stop is Grand,” in which he reflected on his times riding the Chicago El – which I rode so many times over four years of my life – to work. The El shot through “a hell of ratty alleys” and after emerging:

screechingly peacocked
a grace of sparks
              so far out and above
the fast curve that jostled
and fastened us
               into a single shock of—
I will not call it love

You can read the whole poem here at the Poetry Foundation.

I wanted to tell about that poem because I wanted to share with you that image of the peacocking sparks, turning a mundane dreary ride to work experienced by separate individuals into a corporate epiphany. I loved that.

I also want to tell you two other things he said in passing, one related to reading and the other to writing, and when I say related to writing, I also mean related to living. Those of you who've read this blog long enough have figured out that I think what's good for writing is good for living and visa versa.

About reading: Wiman said that he used to read for what he could get out of a book, but the older he gets the more he finds himself reading for relationship. Reading is a way to find out what other people in his life are thinking and what they like, and it provides opportunity to talk about things with other people. (Note: none of this reportage is direct quote but only my paraphrase.) Reading as relational - I want to remember that.

About writing (aka living): Wiman said that most of his poems are the result of an event percolating inside him for about 10 years before he starts to write. I take that as a reminder to be patient with all things, to take the long view, to let things take their time to accrue meaning, particularly those things that have that shimmer around them that says "pay attention."


[Photo: taken of the paper covering I glued on this composition notebook in which I wrote this blog post - and so many others - before posting. This post took the notebook's last page so time for a new notebook. To give credit for the design: CanvasCorp.]

657. Going out singing: the poetry of Brett Foster

Going out singing-the poetry of Brett Foster.jpg

Earlier this week a professor at Wheaton College died at the age of 42: Dr. Brett Foster. He was a poet and a scholar. He was also a very good man. I didn’t know him but know people who did. I don’t say that in order to position myself within his sphere but to give explanation for my hearing of the many accolades about him. I had the opportunity to hear him read one of his poems last Spring during an event associated with the AWP meeting and have been following links to his poems this week as they’ve been posted on social media sites in his tribute and memory. Readers of this blog may already be familiar with Foster and his work. If you’re not, you may very much like to dip in and read a few of his poems at these links.

From “Tongue is the Pen”
“And speaking of things overheard, you heard right:
if I have to go out, I am going to go out singing.”

From “For My Friends” (scroll down)
“Just so you have lowered me into that room
where a message is being heard, something
about all things being restored, made new…”

From “Luke 13:30: Tired Application”
“Tell that gnawing coal fox there’s One coming
who’s casting out devils, making the blind see.”


[Photo: taken yesterday when my husband and I were at the cemetery to tend a marker before the snow falls.]