As Gabriel texts back images from Patagonia (they’re amazing!), I’ve been thinking about some of the places I’ve visited and how big and wide and multiple the world is and also at the beauty of connections over vast distances.
This brings me back to one of my perennial questions/ objects of wonder: our capacity to embrace all of it.
Yet again our news is full of suffering. And there is also so much beauty and love.
I have written about how to hold this multiplicity on my blog in the past and today I want to share a longer essay, Poetry, Pain and Wholeness, that was just published in the new issue of Anchor Magazine (that I also am very proud to edit)!
I loved writing this essay. In it I talk about writing a poem; being pregnant in Greece with Simone when Gabriel was 4; the 7.0 ma Earthquake in Haiti; the intersection of social justice and spirituality; healing trauma; the power of revising our writing; time; and multiplicity itself.
I know that sounds like a lot. It is. But I promise the essay isn’t too long… one of the things I love about writing is it can take us to so many different places and times and do so much of this powerful connecting work in a short piece (That work of connection is also very much what this essay is about).
I’d be delighted if you read the essay!
Here is the opening:
I’m looking out over the stone patio, past the near fig and scruffy walnut trees, to the turquois Aegean at a distance. I think this might be the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. I feel a longing for it even as I’m present; the landscape itself both invites and resists.
Its beauty comes in part through its barrenness: the earth is rocky; only a few plants—oregano, sage and bindweed, with its little tiny white faced flowers—grow from these inhospitable conditions.
I also created some reflection questions for you so that you can think about your own writing process and the connections that it brings for you.
Below are some of the question/prompts. You can write them in a journal or write a more formal piece from them. You can address any of these prompts in any form—essay, journal, poem—or incorporate it into fiction.
Sometimes people ask me how to write a poem or an essay. My first answer is, read, write from what you read, trust your own voice and have fun!
These prompts help you make connections between what you read and what you write, always a great way to deepen any writing and to reconnect with the deep questions that we might not ask ourselves otherwise.
10 writing prompts
Write about a landscape that you love—and why you love it.
Choose two pivotal years in your life. Write a scene for each year and put them side by side to create a complete piece.
Describe something that scares or upsets up. Describe something that you love. Place them side by side. Can you hold them both? What happens when you put them in the same space?
Write about a chance encounter that led to a longer relationship (it can be small or large)
Reflect on how a piece of your writing reflects your core concerns: what were the conditions of writing that piece?
If you revised a piece, how did the revision process mirror larger shifts in your life?
What does spirituality mean to you? (yes, try to really define it for yourself)
What does social justice mean to you, and what is your connection to it?
Is there a link between spirituality and social justice for you?
What practices do you engage in to help you stay grounded in what you believe is good and true? Write about them (and make sure to take time to continue to practice them)
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