Thursday, May 28, 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

Jane Kenyon, born in 1947, married her poetry professor at the University of Michigan in 1972. They moved to Eagle Farm Pond, Hall's ancestral home in Wilmot, New Hampshire, where they shared a deep love for each other and pursued their careers in poetry. Kenyon's poems are often filled with images of the rural and domestic life she was living. At other times they reflect her ongoing struggle with depression. Kenyon was New Hampshire's Poet Laureate when she died in 1995 from leukemia.

Meditating with Poetry

Poetry is often the bearer of spiritual truth, as witnessed to by the Psalms. That truth is rarely expressed directly, but rather through the use of images, metaphors, and allusions. In this way poetry honors the mystery of spiritual truth which finally eludes our logical reasoning.

Praying with poetry is similar to praying with Scripture, or lectio divina. Its purpose is simply to assist us to attend to God's presence. A background in poetic literature is unnecessary, as is knowledge of the poet's life and writings, though that knowledge has its own value. By grace, as we meditate with poetry, we may also hear the voice of truth and wisdom, challenge and call.

One Way of Doing It

1. After selecting a poem, center yourself in the quiet of your inner self. Notice the breath of life moving in and out of your body. Let yourself become open to and aware of God's presence.

2. Silently read the poem.

3. After a few moments or minutes, read the poem aloud.

4.When you are ready, read the poem again silently, lingering over the words and phrases, the rhythms and movement, the tone and images.

5. In your journal or other paper, record - the images that drew your attention as you read the poem . . . your feelings after reading the poem . . . the reality or insight, "the wisdom of God," that has been unearthed for you by reading this poem.

6. Sit with the images, the feelings, the realities and insights. Meditate on them unhurriedly. Then record what God seems to be saying to you, as well as any other insights.

7. Read the poem aloud again - this time as a prayer to God.

(Additional suggestions and resources for Praying with Poetry will be posted on the companion website - Resources for Daily Prayer.)

Take time today to try this discipleship practice with Jane Kenyon's poem, "Otherwise."

I got out of bed

on two strong legs.

It might have been

otherwise. I ate

cereal, sweet

milk, ripe, flawless

peach. It might

have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill

to the birchwood.

All morning I did

the work I love.

At noon I lay down

with my mate. It might

have been otherwise.

We ate dinner together

at a table with silver

candlesticks. It might

have been otherwise.

I slept in a bed

in a room with paintings

on the walls, and

planned another day

just like this day.

But one day, I know,

it will be otherwise.

from Otherwise: New and Selected Poems, Graywolf Press, 1996

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