In solemn stillness,
twilight trees approach the sky–
In solemn stillness,
twilight trees approach the sky–
The snow lies still upon the rooftops.
From a few houses
smoke rises in a misty haze
and the streetlights blaze
like midnight suns.
All is silent
except the steady breathing of my toddler
whom I’m rocking back to sleep.
In the upper bedroom
across the street
and the blue lights of the television
flash out a noiseless dance.
But the snow lies still upon the rooftops
and silence greets my sleepy glance outside.
I feel like a ship on waving waters
tossed about and slightly seasick,
but all is not chaos
and I won’t be lost
if I keep firmly anchored in You, Lord,
I can toss and tumble,
but I won’t drift off course
so here in the jumble of waves
I’ll be happy.
The dry land with its steady stillness
is not for me now.
Perhaps when I retire,
I’ll dock at a nice sunny spot
near the shore.
But for now
the waves and sea storms for me—
the ups and downs,
the splashing crashing waves.
I’m surrounded by little rowboats and seagulls
but anchored in hope Lord,
because I’m anchored in Your love.
Poetry as a gift of silence…Here is a poem which spoke to my heart like a familiar breeze ruffling through the forest, bringing new life and resonating with joy. It is from author Wendell Berry’s book New Collected Poems.
HOW TO BE A POET (to remind myself)
Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill — more of each
than you have — inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
Outside the moon smiles lopsided
ever laughing, ever the same
despite my foibles, my losses
my little tragedies and defeats,
the moon continues in it’s ever changing sameness,
shining down like a flashlight
each difference but a dance with shadows.
And while sirens blare
and strange cars drive by
on late night voyages,
the cool air caresses me with the same
light breath and the stars quietly proclaim
“We are forever.”
Can it be that I, too,
despite my little daily battles—
the exorbitant dishes, the laundry piles that heave and grow
like monsters animated by dust and finger-paint,
the millionth cup of spilled juice,
the sweet stickiness of the table after pancakes—
am somehow part of this cycle of sameness
which is a gateway to eternity?
that through these daily things
and my yes to the “now”
to the goodness of each day
I am also saying yes
An amen which fills the heart
with joy unquenchable..
The moon looks down
through the cool night air
upon my littleness
and laughs, “Yes!”
This Sunday I saw a rose so lovely one could get lost in it’s petals, contemplating beauty while the blossom blushes sweetly. It had the rich scent of a real rose, the kind you want to just drink in again and again…the kind that makes you think of romantic English gardens and quaint little thatched cottages.
Thinking back, it was a funny little gift to see it growing there, just outside the church, where moments before I had been talking with my friend Sherri, and joking that all the pretty women were wearing roses that day. She had a beautiful white dress covered in red roses, and I had a rose pattern white t-shirt. She told me she wanted to dress up extra today, on the feast of Pentecost, for the Holy Spirit, with whom she has such a love affair. “He just always takes such good care of me,” she smiled.
“Today is my 10 year anniversary of baptism,” I told her, “10 years since I joined the church.” For her it had been almost 16. I remembered rubbing my belly with childlike excitement in the days leading up to my baptism…God Himself was coming to dwell in my soul! We marvelled at how lucky we felt, knowing God’s love, His desire to be close to each and every person, to bring depth and meaning to our lives.
So who is this person Sherri and I are enamoured with, who inflames and guides our hearts? Isn’t going to church just for stodgy old ladies…people who recite pious prayers but aren’t really spiritual? As a convert, I haven’t found this old stereotype to hold water, nor have I found the supposed opposition between being religious and being spiritual.
For me, finding the faith helped me begin a very intimate and interior journey, one of growing closer to God while at the same time becoming more free to truly be myself…learning to trust the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, the one who nudges me to grow, to give, to respond to His creative impulses, to be optimistic and ready to dream aloud. To trust in something bigger than myself. To be willing to take creative risks.
Growing in my spiritual life has been essential to my growth as a writer. I find there is such a direct link between prayer and creativity, because prayer helps me be aware of the beauty around me, and to be still enough to let it enter my heart. Then it’s just a matter of sharing what’s inside. I once compared writing poetry to sitting still enough for a butterfly to land on you, a matter of receiving an inspiration and sharing it, a little gift…
So if I haven’t been blogging much at times, you can guess I’ve been letting myself get too busy, and you can write me a comment and say, “Anna, stop running around… sit still and pray more; we want some poetry! ”
When I don’t take time to pray, to be still, to talk to God about my life and especially to listen, my creative well runs dry. I run like a little hamster in a wheel, very busy but very superficial. It is exhausting and empty, and I think our souls need to love deeper…ha, that was a typo but still true: we need to live deeper and to love deeper. This is what helps us see the beauty in life, despite suffering; this is what helps us live for something bigger than ourselves, and in the process become more the people we are meant to be.
Maybe I’ll write more about this soon, but as we’re all busy people I’ll let you go for now. I hope you’ll find a little time to seek out that special stillness in which God whispers to our hearts and inspires us to help Him create a more wonderful world.
All of a sudden
the lights are out
at 7 pm
just as we’re starting dinner
It becomes a candlelit meal
our family enclosed
in a small circle of light
my children’s faces
illumined by the tiny flames
There is nothing else to rush to
no dishwashers or dryers
no email or phone
so we linger around the table laughing
as our three year old
makes up silly stories about babies
and bunnies and when she was little
and used to be a toy and a chocolate
The kids pile easily into their new double bunk beds
with the LED lantern lighting up
their imaginary campground
The baby gives up
cooing at the candle
and lets me rock him to sleep
It is so quiet
there is only stillness
and this small circle of light