Throughout Lent we have been finding our way through Lent connecting to scripture with the poem Thirst, by Mary Oliver. I found my journey deepened this Lenten season by attending An Evening of Lenten Poetry and Reflection, led by Pastor Holly.
We were read to, we were invited to write, and we read our words and hearts to one another. We reflected on beautiful lessons that emerged from our souls, with the presence of God in community. It was kind of magic. None us were professed “poets” yet our words became poetry and we had packed nothing that evening. I felt the “slowly learning” of prayer and poetry blending.
Here are two of my poems, followed by snippets of the words of others present that evening.
At the end I have included a list of the other poems we listened to that evening.
Our first prompt ideas were about brokenness and forgiveness.
Lament for the Trees
By Maris Gilbert
Oh, for the trees cut without care, the homes of beings destroyed in the felling and the dragging away of the forest and it’s life-giving existence, now lumber. Wood. No memory of life.
Stored and stacked and hacked, waiting to be sawed and nailed and polished into something new.
Oh, for the smell of wet dirt and moss on the north side of the trees.
The feel of rough bark and the sparkle of rain on branches.
Oh for the wind in the pines.
Oh for the thoughtless slaughter.
Deep deep sighs for the lost blue skies to ponder looking up through green canopies, and
Oh for the birdsongs gone.
Oh, for what we do here living in your beautiful creation.
Can we be forgiven?
Next, we were prompted to write about prayer.
Wrestling with God
By Maris Gilbert
Praying when I was little I used to say “Dear God, thank you…”
and you were all around me.
I heard you everywhere and saw you in everything.
I loved you then and I felt your love for me and for all.
I was safe with you, Dear God.
Then as I was growing up I pleaded with you “Dear God, please don’t let her die” and “Please show me you love me, you loveher. Pleaseshow me I can count on you.” I prayed and prayed ”Please heal her.” and“ PLEASE. Listen to me” and “please hear me Dear God”
And she died. You abandoned her and you left me.
I did not pray anymore.
I Screamed WHY and pounded the walls.
I gave up on you, you left me.
Then I decided to talk to you again and I yelled at you often. And I began to believe you might hear and listen to my loud one way rants at you. I was persistent in my anger with you.
And then I began to Listen, for your voice.
One day as I listened for you, I heard you, through my mother’s voice as I prayed to be close to her, still grieving.
You said through her voice “There is peace inside you”
Then I began to pray again.
“Dear God please help me”
“Dear God please help me pray again”
“Dear God please help me know your comfort”
“Dear God please help me know this peace inside me”
And I am thankful again.
Now I continue to pray all the ways I have prayed, knowing you never left me.
“Dear God, thank you”
What I heard when I listened
Here are snippets of beautiful lessons by others during the evening of Lenten Poetry and Prayer:
I long for forgiveness over and over and over again
I long to forgive myself
I am praying to be a light, so clear with God
God has always been in nature
Immense and Gorgeous
Touch of Grace
We all just need to move it along
I’m making my way
Letting go of hurt
Letting go the hidden scars
Moving past the past
Trying to find myself
Dear God, thank you for the hearts of others shared!
We are all slowly learning. Here is a list of poems shared in the evening of Poetry and Prayer “be a quick scholar” to enjoy them! Listen for God, and look for beautiful lessons in all you do, experience, read, see.
Pray however you need to pray, or not pray, as you learn beautiful lessons.
Inventing Sin, by George Ella Lyon
Sickness, by Linda Hogan (From The Book of Medicines: Poems) 1994
Prayer, by Marie Howe
Prayer, by Marie Howe (What the Living Do, Norton Press, ( New York, 1998) 73.
Praying, by Mary Oliver