I read some poetry today. I was looking for inspiration for tonight’s blog and caught myself flitting from poem to poem like a buzzing bee drunkenly bouncing from blossom to blossom. I read aloud, which I haven’t done in a really long time, poems from people whose names I did not recognize. I started out reading a Mary Oliver poem on a website that contained the works of many poets and groups of poets, and so I flitted. It was a brief distraction from writing tonight’s posting, briefly immersing myself in the flow and rhythm of verse.
As I near the conclusion of the forty days I find myself wearing down from the mental exertions of trying to write something fresh every day. I am thinking a lot as these days wind down about the suffering and death of Jesus. I keep wanting to write about some of that, but keep feeling like I should wait until Good Friday for the really grim, somber stuff. But I find myself drawn to the suffering even though it is only Tuesday. I find myself wondering how one can endure mental, emotional, and physical anguish and agony and yet remain observant of and attentive to the people around them.
Have you ever tried to make someone else feel better even when you are yourself in pain and suffering? I have, and sometimes it can be a little ridiculous. But when you’re accustomed to thinking about other people and their needs and comforts, caretaking is a habit that’s tough to break, even when the caregiver is in pain. So I think about Jesus, who even though beaten and battered and in excruciating pain, still looks with compassion upon those tormenting him asking God to forgive them for what they did to him. He expresses concern for his mother and who would care for her after he was gone. He extends hope and forgiveness to the two criminals hanging on either side of him, concerned about their souls. And I wonder if I could do that.
Contemplating Jesus’s situation over these 40 days puts a lot of my own “suffering” into perspective and offers me alternative ways of thinking about my life and those of the people around me. It gives me the space to think about and express those thoughts in writing as I have loved to do since I was young. Today’s diversion into poetry allowed me to briefly still the flood of noise that at times roars through my life. Contemplation, stillness, quiet are gifts to be treasured and appreciated. These things can be created and cultivated even in the midst of the hectic-ness. As I read and re-read Mary Oliver and others aloud this evening I smiled in appreciation.
I hope Jesus had poetry in his life or something else that brought him pleasure and surcease from the mental vexations he faced as he approached his final days. I hope he found moments of stillness amidst the swirl and chaos that seemed to follow him wherever he went. What about you, reader? What calms your mind or feeds your soul or quickens your spirit? If you don’t know, I hope you discover it, and if you do know, I hope you create space for it in your life.
This evening I read so many poems, most by Mary Oliver. I thought to leave you with one, but which one to choose? After some deliberation I landed on “Wild Geese,” though I could have as easily selected, “The Summer Day,” or “The Journey” and been just as pleased. Nevertheless, I had to choose and so will stick with where I landed. May it make you smile.