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Free prize for the best example.
As you readers know, I regularly extol the practice of poetry. “Creative people read one poem a day,” I like to say.
Each morning I cycle through 2 or 3 sites to make certain I practice my own advice. I start with the Writer’s Almanac, a site run by the great Garrison Keillor. It’s also fun to listen to this as a podcast takes 5 minutes. Next I check a site called Poetry Daily. Finally, I look at The Poetry Foundation’s site, which is a veritable treasure-trove of resources. I click on their poem of the day link.
Just this morning, I read the cover story of the current issue of Poetry Magazine (which they publish). The short article, “In that Great River: A Notebook,” shares a bit of the inner life of one of the great poet-mystics, Anna Kamienska. (whom I never knew before). It’s a collection of sayings like the following,
“Poetry is a foretaste of truth. It is the vestibule of faith. It is contemporary poets who have turned it into smoke and mirrors.”
I like that.
In response to my regular counsel, people regularly tell me, “I just don’t get poetry.” And that’s precisely the reason we must be reading it. Reading poetry reconnects us with words in their primal creative essence. Poetry strips us of our need to “master” words and meanings and leads us into the possibility of submission. So take off your “I’ve got to pin down the meaning of this poem and get something out of it” hat and put on your “I’m going to practice poetry as an act of surrendering to the mystery of art” hat.
As a 12 year old I pulled a dusty book from the family library. The title, “How to win friends and Influence People.” The author, Dale Carneige.
I happened across an insight that literally changed my life. I well remember it.
“Become genuinely interested in other people.”
As a minister I do this almost
constantly. Perhaps because I am a minister I don’t often experience this reciprocated.
We spent this past week with friends in Texas. I found myself on the receiving side of this equation–being around people who were genuinely interested in me.
Become genuinely interested in other people.
I think it may be the most practical wisdom I’ve ever learned.
Today I watched a small flare up between the two brothers, my oldest and youngest, David (9) and San (4). They fought over a tiny frog in the swimming pool. Sam found the frog. David caught it. Sam claimed findership. David clanged to keepership. A screaming bunker-buster of a cluster bomb exploded all around us. I entered the fray, persuading David to give the frog to the four year old. He did so with angry reluctance. Sam gloated. Enraged, David shoved the antagonistic aggressor. Sam screeched protest. As World War 3 brewed I intervened, establishing a de-militarized zone (DMZ).
As I contemplated peace-talks, I pondered what might defuse this skirmish. Given it’s present trajectory, casualties loomed eminent. Reconciliation was a pipe dream. Then it occurred to me, there’s only one way out of this. Someone has to forgive the other one.
Here’s what I think that means: someone has to make a willful decision to not retaliate. They don’t have to “feel” like it. They don’t have to want to do it. This is not a cease-fire agreement or a truce. It doesn’t require repentance on the part of the other. No, forgiveness consists in “not retaliating.” Not seizing collateral to satisfy a debt. Not talking about the person behind their back. Not doing anything with the intent to harm the other in any fashion.
Only then can reconciliation become possible.
I’m in the midst of a 21 posts in 21 days challenge. Anyone want to join in?
My friend, Chad Brooks, entered the blogosphere long before the “blogosphere” existed. Outside is Better offers thoughtful theologically oriented book reviews, practical advice in the realm of social media and ministry and a steady diet of solid thinking about Christian worship. He’s recently been named one of the top 10 seminary student bloggers. They say of Chad, “He never lets the truth get in the way of a good story.” And that’s about all this blog needs– more of Chad’s legendary story-telling.
He offers a steady diet of solid eschatological insight on his other site, World Without End– Eschatology for the rest of us.
Why not a clear self help book filled with compelling principles??????