Years ago, when I was in college, I read poetry all the time. And, then I got busy with life and forgot all about poetry. Oh, every now and then I run across a poem or a story that I liked, but for the most part I read to prepare for sermons or listened to books on Audible.com for escape.
Recently, though, I have taken to reading poetry again and have rediscovered the power of words rightly placed to awaken us, challenge us, help us dream. I have even been reading short poems to my Introduction to Preaching class at Perkins School of Theology. I don’t know if they appreciate it or not, but I am enjoying it tremendously.
John F. Kennedy once said, “When power leads man toward arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.” So, I’ve been reading poetry and finding that it does just what Kennedy said.
I, along with the rest of the world, have discovered the poetry of Mary Oliver. It is amazing to me how she puts so much meaning into so few words. She writes in her poem, “A Thousand Mornings,” the title poem of her book by the same name,
All night my heart makes its way
however it can over the rough ground
of uncertainties, but only until night
meets and then is overwhelmed by
morning, the light deepening, the
wind easing and just waiting, as I
too wait (and when have I ever been
disappointed?) for the redbird to sing.
Jesus once told those who followed him to, “consider the lilies of the field . . .” He knew so well, what he wanted us to know, that awakening to God’s creation is to encounter God. As we draw near to the busiest season of the year, I invite you to take a moment and sit down and read some poetry. If you do, you may well find that you notice things more: the smile on a child’s face, the new pansies planted in your neighbors yard, the song of the redbird. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he invited us to consider the lilies of the field. Perhaps this is the path to peace, both the peace of our hearts and peace for our world.
Holy One, awaken me today to see you present in all of creation, and then open my mouth to sing forth your praise. Amen.