A poem is being scribed this morning
across the thick brown bog and
over the gashed granite folds of mountain,
written in spires of gold descending
from the wide bowl of sky
across the breathing heather.
You have to pause to read it,
long enough to hear beneath the relentless
moan of wind
where centuries of voices have whispered
their seeking, feasting, fasting, loving.
You know your singular aloneness
and your place in a communion of stone and sea.
Even as the kestrel’s wings vibrate into the night
sending quills into the damp air,
even as the skylarks and stonechats
attend each day’s awakening
like eager midwives,
this empire of longing writes its script
in fox tracks and memory.
If your life could be just a fraction of this poem
you would never need to utter another word.
—Christine Valters Paintner
(This poem first appeared in Tiferet Journal)
Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
I am delighted to share another poetry video created by the wonderful Galway-based Morgan Creative. We live just a short drive from the Connemara region and I love this landscape of granite mountains, bog, heather, and sea. It is a very elemental place where the wind howls in winter and strips away anything you might be holding onto too tightly. It is one of my favorite places to go for a hike or just spend some time in meditation along the shoreline.
The poem takes its inspiration from the ancient art of illuminating manuscripts. I love those painstakingly designed texts where monks would bring in image to help deepen the meaning. Illumination referred to the gold that was added to various designs to create a sense of light shining through. Often when I am standing by a wet field in Ireland after a rainy morning, and suddenly the sun breaks through and the field is shimmering and sparkling with light, I imagine that those ancient monks were trying to capture that moment in their work on the manuscripts.
One day while out in the wilds of Connemara, on a day when light and shadow were playing against each other, I began to imagine the land itself as a manuscript that had been illuminated by a divine hand. Then I thought about how my life is also a poem illuminated by unseen forces in the world. “You have to pause to read it” I write in the poem above, how often in our rushed and useful lives do we pause to appreciate the sacred text that is the world, crying out to be read, to be savored?
I invite you to pause now and pour a cup of tea, then give yourself two minutes to watch the video below which includes some gorgeous footage of the Connemara landscape to accompany my reading of the poem:
Feel free to share the video if you feel so inspired. My collection of poems, Dreaming of Stones, is being released in the next several days. If you go to this link you can find different ways of ordering a copy for yourself. I would be most grateful for and honored by your support. And if you feel inspired by sacred poetry to join me in Chartres, France this summer check out this webinar we just recorded to provide you with more details to discern if the experience is calling to you.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo © Christine Valters Paintner