I am a West Country girl and have come to appreciate the coastline and the freedom of childhood days where you could roam the countryside for hours without a responsible adult calling the police. Pretending to be one of the Famous Five was a summertime preoccupation. Enid Blyton was, in fact, a major literary influence in my early years. The book that disturbed me most was Tolkien's The Hobbit.
My babysitter would read it to me, and had a particularly scary Gollum voice.
I had nightmares for years about what people had in their pockets. I wrote my first poem after watching a TV documentary about an innocent man's execution. I was about ten, alone in the sitting room and the fire was burning in the hearth … honestly.
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This poor man was caught on camera before he was led off to die, and he said something like: 'I am going to meet my maker in a few hours and I pray that he has more mercy on you, then you've had on me. The poem is lost, but I do remember the last line: 'They will never know the voice of my innocence. Later I read Tennyson's poem Despair and T. That was all in my teens. His poetry, even in translation, is astounding.
I don't know of anyone else, apart from St John of the Cross, who has described man's spiritual condition and the essence of the mystical experience within the poetic aesthetic so 'perfectly'. Wojtyla's poetry, plays and writings on theatre provide a clear lens through which to look at and explore the question: what is meditative, or contemplative, art?
Are there stylistic and technical devices that when used engender contemplation in the one 'beholding'? Poetry is very useful to help focus thoughts. And even more so if you actually choose to pick up a pen and explore further through writing poetry of your own.
To express thought, either verbally or on the page, is for me a key part of meditation. So do something with your thoughts, and then an action will follow! Philippians 4: 8 encourages us to think about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.
Goodness inevitably follows from thinking 'good thoughts'. The mystery of language is that the creative power resides in words as they are expressed. The Holy Spirit will gently lead and guide into 'all truth'. My dream for society is that the Church as a whole creates contexts other than its usual meetings to help people in the liberating, but often fraught, exploration inwards and God-wards.
Art can provide a 'wider' entrance for people into the community of faith; so often we expect people to squeeze through such a narrow door. My dream is that that the Church recognises more the spiritual function of art to bring more beauty into the world. There is an ever-strengthening culture of death out there. The pillars of any culture of life are Beauty, Truth and Goodness, and Christian artists need to be supported, encouraged and prayed for. Art is crucial to any humane society. Without people learning the art of reflection and connecting with their inner selves through the Holy Spirit, I really don't hold out much hope for society.
Poetry may bring wellbeing, because it brings truth, but it may also equally disturb. Many poets are persecuted, in prison and have been killed by the authorities.
Arthur Burt said: 'You have to lay the track of truth for the train of grace to come'. I really like that.
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The truth, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable, will always bring a fresh experience of grace into your life. The role of poetry as 'truth-bringer' is important for me. Things got worse to the point I felt I had to get away by myself, so I flew out to visit my brother living at Lake Tahoe around Thanksgiving While there, I set off on cross country skis right from his home in the mountains, figuring I would follow my tracks back and be fine.
After a few hours it was snowing, tracks covered, and I was lost. In fact I felt my whole life was lost. I wanted to get out of there and get back to my kids.
88 Poems of Encouragement
My life is a mess. I felt there was not a reason in the world God should hear or answer my prayer. I was unworthy, I thought. Funny thing is, when I got up off my knees I felt a very strong urge within me that I should go a direction I had already tried once, but I went. God had answered my prayer, but why? I realized it was about Him and not me.
I was determined to read my Bible when I got back to Illinois; and boy did I ever. Even so, things at home, my job, my family situation all worsened. God heard that prayer in a way I could never explain. The only thing I wanted was God and I was ready. Nothing changed and yet everything changed. I knew God was for me and not against me. Three days later I wrote my first poem titled God Has Spoken.
It was my response to what God had done for me.
Holy Spirit Led Poetry
It took a couple years but a divorce came about and I lost custody of our children. I was hurting and even had a panic attack at one point, but combined with going to church, reading the Bible, and many prayers and a prayer partner, combined God was giving me spiritual food, and as He gave I wrote it down and it came out as poetry. The more He gave, the more I wrote and somewhere along the line, different styles and methods of poetry came out and I guess you could say I got better.
At first most all that I wrote was to help me on my Christian journey and for soul healing. I began writing individual poems to people I knew who needed a spiritual touch for various reasons. They were gratefully received. Working at my place of employment a customer I knew was a minister and also a carpenter, and he left a booklet of Christian poetry he had written.
Christian Poetry - Poetry and Praise - Wholesome Words
I had never met another poet, so I asked him to read some of what I had written and let me know what he thought. With little comment and no advice, later he asked me to go with him to a prison ministry he had been doing and share my testimony. After a long approval process to get in the prison I went. I told my story and lives were touched; theirs and mine. I could see the hand of God all over it. People were receiving Jesus into their hearts.
After the divorce I married a wonderful Christian lady, Karla, and we have been married 30 years. How we met and fell in love is a whole other story, but I wrote a lot of poems for her which are not in this book.
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- Adolescents dans la cité: Je voudrais quon mai(d)me (French Edition);
- The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective;
Karla started going with me to the prison soon after we married.