I’ve been pondering for the past week what to write for this post. I’d thought of taking a pass, but I made this promise to my writerly self that I’d show up twice a week to post in this space devoted to writing. I may have copped out a bit, using the Friday posts for a poem – occasionally one of my efforts – accompanied by one of my photos. Pretty simple, leaving only Mondays for something more creative .
Right now I’m feeling “written out.” I just finished the first draft of an important email. One of those brave and necessary, fence mending, relationship tending emails. The kind that takes a lot of time, mental focus, heart connection and honesty to find the right words, to convey right tone. I’ll let that sit for a while before pressing “send”. And for the past three weeks, I’ve been journaling and writing a bit of poetry in response to prompts from the online course, The Soul of a Pilgrim. I’ve mentioned it in a couple of recent posts, remarking on its timeliness for these times, its resonance with my contemplative nature.
This course, derived from the host Christine Valters Paintner’s book of the same, features weekly one of her eight practices of pilgrimage, each grounded in scripture, and then brought to life each day through several creative processes – lectio divino (reflection and writing to words that shimmer in a reading); Midrash, an ancient Jewish tradition of writing what’s imagined, or as a character in a reading, akin, I think, to Jungian “active imagination”; visio divino or contemplative photography; and Midrash movement, free expression movement or dance, with or without music, inspired by the reading.
Week 1, “Hearing the Call and Responding” evoked my poem, Hearing the Pilgrim’s Call, as the week’s integration. In Week 2, the practice of “Packing Lightly,” the visio divino process inspired the closing poem in my post, So This Is The Camino.
Last week, Week 3, the practice of “Crossing the Threshold,” I finally overcame a curious resistance to the movement exercise, odd for one who danced before she walked and as a young girl intuited how to use dance to move through stuck times, ground in turbulent ones. During the lectio divino, despite the scripture selection (Miriam at the Sea of Reeds, Exodus 15:19-21) immediately calling forth wonderful memories of walking a small pilgrimage of ceremony and celebration in Andalusia in 2017, my own experience in Midrash movement was anything but celebratory, as my exterior reality collided with my interior journey.
Despite my photos that captured that celebration, and resonated with the scripture reading, I journaled:
“Today, I danced Miriam, with an actual tambourine. And I simply could not let go into the celebration, as my exterior world, where my province has just announced its staged ‘re-opening’ plan – to begin today – is creating deep unease and grave concern. ‘Too much, too fast, too soon,’ I posted on Facebook last night, adding I hoped my concerns would prove unfounded, though much time would only tell. Many replied, mostly women, in agreement. So, a figurative dance with women…with my tambourine of caution, not of celebration.”
That caution carried through into my contemplative camera walk. A series of images of thresholds. This one. These words. Outer world amplified by the inner life revealed.
A well worn path abruptly ends
opening onto an expanse of space and sky.
Trees, like sentinels, guard against distraction.
Gravel now becomes greening fairway,
dry gold patches reveal winter’s hardship.
An urban golf course, my off season nature walk and refuge
whose birdsong and cloudscapes invite
my reverie and prayer.
But today this medicine must give way to golfers,
who, like so many, have bemoaned
a long winter, a late spring, a country-wide lock-down.
Too much, too fast, too soon my province’s plans for
a re-opened economy,
to say nothing about we the people, the citizens, the communities, the society.
Prevalent paradigms persist
that what’s good for one is
good for the other,
without naming me, asking us.
Threshold crossed to
get on with it,
get it over,
get it right.
But have we learned? What?
Will we remember? How?
Will we get it right?