I had the privilege in early February of attending a conference with keynote speaker, writer, and scholar, James Finley. Author of the books Merton’s Palace of Nowhere and Christian Meditations, Finley believes that elements of the monastic contemplative life could be brought into any lay person’s daily experience. He kept referring to that creative moment when an artist is painting or when a poet is composing… and I was astounded. It never occurred to me to consider poetry in that light, although I’ve certainly come to think of it in a more holy, honest fashion.
What I think Dr. Finley was talking about was the way that poets train their brains to be more aware of their surroundings. Poetry prompts are all well and good (and can certainly assist in the development of a daily practice), but true inspiration comes from the spoon-full of cheerios, that careful slice of avocado, that inhalation of my own familiar fragrance trapped in the fabric of my pillow…
I have fallen out of that awareness. The reality of day-to-day living means that I frequently become a blur, even to myself. I forget to look around, to notice, to be. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I dream of a time when I will do nothing but write.
And yet, I also know that while the physical time to write is important, it is the awareness of the world that inspires the poem, not the keyboard and the dust layering the monitor.
So here’s to National Poetry Writing Month and my own little ode to it… to be more aware; to drink in the experiences that surround me so that when the time comes, I have something to truly write about.
For more information concerning Dr. Finley and contemplative practices, visit: http://contemplativeway.org/index.html