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The Doorway into Thanks

How poetry helps me set the world aside and talk to God

I often get caught up in process. I am a process consultant, after all! I tend to get lost in the how to’s and the how not to’s and actually my own crazy understanding of who I am. David Zahl of Mockingbird calls this face to the outside world our ‘curated self’.

This obsessing used to keep me from experiencing the simple act of talking to God and listening for a response.  I have found that in those muddled moments I need to use a prompt to help. I often use poetry or music for that. 

Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets. Here is a simple piece of hers from her collection Thirst that I turn to frequently:

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

Barbara Casey

April 2016

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