Welcome to the Abbey's 52nd Poetry Party!
I select an image and suggest a theme/title and invite you to respond with your own poem. Scroll down and add it in the comments section below. Feel free to take your poem in any direction and then post the image and invitation on your blog (if you have one) and encourage others to come join the party! (permission is granted to reprint the image if a link is provided back to this post)
On Sunday, August 14th, I will draw a name at random from the participants and the winner will receive a copy of one of my two newest books The Artist's Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom or Lectio Divina–The Sacred Arts: Transforming Words and Images into Heart-Centered Prayer.
For several years now I have been drawn to the possibility of living abroad again. During college I studied in Paris for a semester and while growing up, my father worked at the United Nations and we often traveled back to Vienna for summers where my grandparents lived. My father died fifteen years ago and in recent years I have made several journeys to Austria and Latvia, both countries where he grew up, as a part of a journey of healing our relationship and coming to a deeper understanding of his story, and therefore my own.
Last Christmas I traveled once more to Vienna and ended up in the hospital with a life-threatening condition and as terrifying as it all was, in these months since I can't help but feel like it was also an experience of initiation toward something deeper in my life which I haven't yet even been able to name. Now I am in the process of applying to regain the dual citizenship I once held with Austria as a child, another step on the journey. It feels important to claim that identity for myself in this way. It also opens up the possibility of living in Vienna in the future and makes work permits and health insurance so much simpler. So I continue to follow the call of this great journey and my husband and I are taking steps toward the possibility of a sabbatical abroad beginning next summer. Embracing this next part of the journey fills me with joy and anticipation, but also a healthy dose of fear and trembling. As Phil Cousineau wisely writes in The Art of Pilgrimage, "Ancient wisdom suggests if you aren't trembling as you approach the sacred, it isn't the real thing. The sacred, in its various guises as holy ground, art, or knowledge, evokes emotion and commotion."
The photo for our Poetry Party is of a cairn I created from lava rocks while hiking across a caldera at Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii earlier this summer, one of the world's most active volcanoes. Cairns are human-created piles of rocks left to mark trails and landmarks; they help to point the way. All great journeys require risk and sacrifice so the cairns of our lives help to remind us that we are moving in the right direction despite our doubts and fears. They may come in the form of synchronicities, or a sense of equanimity and joy, or an intuition that we are following a golden thread which leads us forward.
I invite you to write a poem about your own great journeys whether ones you have already taken or the ones you dream about. What are the markers along the way that remind you it is all worth it? What are the risks you must take to follow the loud beating of your heart?