Joy and Lament

I’ve been thinking about joy and lament for the past few days. How – as poet Christine Valters Paintner described them – as “sisters,” who make space for one another, even, I’d say, needing one another for a purer expression of each. I had logged onto a live Zoom call with Christine and a couple of hundred others from around the world for this year’s Novena for Times of Unravelling, another soulful offering from the Abbey of the Arts, this time oriented around the principles of their Monk’s Manifesto.

This day’s theme was cultivating creative joy by letting body and “heart overflow with the inexpressible delights of love.” Christine was clear to say this joy “isn’t about happiness, but something deeper…an opening to the capacity to taste paradise…and that this capacity for joy is in proportion to our capacity for grief.”

we’re back

A few days earlier, I sent a “thank you” email off to another favourite poet, Samantha Reynolds, who writes under the pen name of “bentlily.” I think I’ve mentioned here that every Monday I’m greeted with her past week’s offering of daily poems, her practice for eleven years of musing on life’s daily moments. Included that week was her “17 flavours of joy”, evoking my memory of the “visceral experience of joy hurting a bit, being like an arrow that pierces my heart…unlike happiness, which is lovely, but not nearly as deep, as profound, as indelible.”

Today, a full moon, and in the Christian tradition, Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. Too, the beginning of Jewish Passover. And in a couple of weeks, Ramadan. A “trifecta” of high holy days among the Abrahamic religions. I always intuit a certain potency of energy and possibility during such synchronicities. Maybe even a thinning of the veil. Certainly, an opening to the range of feelings and memories evoked. Life’s joys and laments.

Before I sat down here to write, Annie and I walked to beat the forecast spring thunder showers. Of all the choices, I plugged into the just “dropped” On Being re-broadcast of Krista’s 2016 conversation with Northern Irish “Troubles” poet, Michael Longley. Called “The Vitality of Ordinary Things,” they explored the range of Longley’s poetry – his adoration, celebration and worship of wildflowers, birds, his ordinary and real life.

“I want the beauty, the psychedelic wildflowers, the call of the wild birds. I want all of that shimmering beauty to illuminate the northern darkness. We have peace of a kind, but no cultural resolution — the tensions which produced the Troubles are still there. It is important for me to see beautiful Carrigskeewaun as part of the same island as Belfast.”

Michael Longley in On Being with Krista Tippett, March 25, 2021

I like how he describes what being a poet and writing poetry mean for him.

“…good art, good poems, is making people more human, making them more intelligent, making them more sensitive and emotionally pure than they might otherwise be.”

Michael Longley in On Being with Krista Tippett, March 25, 2021

For me, the capacity to hold joy and lament…in one’s life, in situ.

Much love and kindest regards, dear friends.

Author: Katharine Weinmann

attending to the inner life to live and lead with kindness, clarity and wisdom; writing to claim the beauty in her wabi sabi life

6 thoughts on “Joy and Lament”

  1. Dear Katharine,

    Your thinking on joy and lament resonates deeply for me. I do not know how else to hold the incredible beauty of spring and the ongoing challenges of our government to recover from its last 4 years of atrocities. I favor my immersion into joy. Blessings and gratitude. Ann

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  2. At the risk of sounding too dramatic, I’ve often thought that poetry saved me through this Pandemic. Immersion into the ‘something’ that sets poetry apart – imparting a sense of community, humanity and honesty – all areas woefully absent in the everyday of the past year.
    Anyway, I appreciate this deeper delve into the joining of the cerebral and visceral! Thanks.

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    1. Not too dramatic in the least, Laura. I fell in love with “spoken word” via a wonderful locally produced radion program on CKUA.com, http://www.roadhome.fm/. Walking during the early days of the pandemic, I tuned into the Poetry Unbound podcast hosted by Padraig O’Tuama. Talk about a glorious life saver! Thank you for your reading and heartful reply.

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      1. Yes, and too, to OnBeing, I thought of you when I re-read my notes from Krista’s interview with Mary Oliver, a few years back. Mary said that poetry saved her life. You are in fine company. Kindest regards….

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