Last Sunday’s Mystical Poetry Love Fest exceeded all our expectations. The four presenters–Nancy Barton, Neale Lundgren, Diana Wentworth and I–had a delightful time. Based on the feedback, I feel certain the sixty-eight souls listening around the world did too. Special kudos to Jude in Perth who kept herself awake in the 3AM hour by reading poetry to her cat, Thomas.
But, as so often happens, the person who got the biggest AHA may well have been me. Via Diana Wentworth. Or rather, via Anne Sexton.
Nancy and Neale and I read our many favorites from Hafiz and Rumi and other long ago poets. But Diana kept bringing us into the present with modern poets–poets many of us didn’t know or didn’t recognize as “mystical.” There was one poem in particular that left everyone on the Love Fest in stunned silence. The topic was “What is mystical poetry really all about?” Nancy and Neale and I shared some pretty lofty stuff from professors and Hafiz and William Blake, but Diana capped the conversation with this jewel:
There is joy
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
in the spoon and the chair
that cry “hello there, Anne”
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.
So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.
The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
~ Anne Sexton ~
The Awful Rowing Toward God
When Diana finished reading the rest of us sputtered something about our morning coffee being changed forever. And indeed, when I went downstairs on Monday morning, my kitchen glowed through my new eyes. I blessed my kettle, praised my orange cup, thanked God profusely for my ten-year old french press. I thanked my frig for chilling the cream and blessed the farmers and roasters who magically deliver Italian roast to my cupboard. Then, as I inhaled that first exquisite sip, I closed my eyes and thanked Diana for bringing us Anne Sexton and Anne Sexton for changing my ordinary morning into a temple of gratitude.
But why stop at breakfast, I thought. I spent the whole day seeing my bed, my sheets, my office, my computer, my windows, my walls–everything–through Anne Sexton eyes. Welcome morning. Welcome afternoon. Welcome night.
If you’ve ever wondered what mystical poetry is about, this is it. It’s all God, it’s all love, it’s all life, it’s all joy. And the only response is THANK YOU.
If that feels good, turn around and look at the room where you are right now. Look at it through Diana Wentworth eyes, through Anne Sexton eyes, through your own divine eyes–and see the joy.
What do you see?
How many times did your mother tell you to say thank you when someone gave you something? Your wild child’s eyes were pasted to the thing–the bright shiny thing–or the food, the gooey yummy food, the ball, the chocolate, the book…whatever was hovering a few inches before you. But before you could grab it, your mother’s voice would slice into the air between you and the thing, and she’d say, “Say, thank you.” You’d mumble it, fast perhaps, but the words would come out, and once they did, you could have what you wanted.
Of course, there were those other times, when your bizarre great aunt, the one with the bright red lipstick and the strange smell and the very odd gifts, gave you something you really didn’t want, but still the insistent voice said, “Say, thank you.” And you did. And the strange thing was suddenly yours, too.
By the time you were four you knew the world runs on thank you. Please and thank you. If you want something, say please. Before you take it, say thank you.
So, let’s be four again. Let’s look at all the gifts you received in 2009. All of them. Even the “but I don’t want this” gifts. As you stare at your calendar or pour your story onto the page, see the gifts, name them, jot them down until you have a nice long list: The Gifts of 2009.
Then, sit with your list and say, “Thank you.” Thank you for the luscious things–the raises, the invitations, the payments, all the lovely people who said yes. And, thank you for the sorrows, the frustrations, the dead ends, the rejections, the people who said no.
Thank you for all of it. The whole thing. The whole story. The whole adventure. Why? Because it is your story. It is the expression of your soul on earth. It is why you’re here. Why you came. What your soul wants to experience, learn, know, become. As the Tao says: Everything is a movement toward your wholeness. Everything. Not just the good stuff. Everything. So say thank you. You are one year further along in your journey to wholeness. And that’s a very good thing.
Soon, you’ll be saying Please to call in the magical gifts of 2010, but for today, your job is just to say thank you for how your story unfolded in 2009.