Take My Hand
Please don’t plant me
neat rows of rosebushes
and tulips at attention,
no manicured gardens
or crystal vases of cut stems.
Instead, take my hand,
lead me onto
which undulates like a boat
on a summer lake,
lie down with me
in a quilt of sunlight and shadows
among yellow petals, violet trumpets,
a feast for hares and bees,
let’s linger and forget ourselves
until even the tiled sky above
is cracked open by stars
and all that is restless and wild
within us can roam the heavens
howling the moon aloft.
—Christine Valters Paintner, Dreaming of Stones
Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
After the six weeks of Lent and our disciplines of letting go of distractions and listening more deeply to the sacred call in our daily lives we arrive to the Feast of Easter which initiates a 50-day season of practicing resurrection. I love this sense of invitation into what it means to live resurrection in the midst of the ordinary routines of life.
I wrote this poem a couple of years ago while up in Donegal on a writing weekend. It was being held at this lovely manor house with a large grassy area out front leading down to a lake. During one of the writing sessions, the instructor invited us to go outside for fifteen minutes and see what was inspired. I wandered out hungrily, so glad for time to move outside into the summer sun, sit under a broad tree offering shade.
For me it is a poem about the longing for wildness in my life. I am aware how having everything in order and well planned can be so seductive, but the divine presence is not a God of neat rows and lining everything up just so. Certainly the Easter story many of us celebrate today reveals a divine wildness which erupts into the world beyond our expectations. Practicing resurrection in part means opening to what happens when we release our ideas of how things should unfold.
There have been times in my life when I have embraced this sense of wildness with more vigor than others. Certainly selling everything we owned and leaving Seattle for an adventure living in Europe was one of those seasons. Now living in Galway for the last almost seven years, I have a lovely and sweet life that I adore and am grateful for each day. It involves certain sacred rhythms and times of silence to listen deeply. What is most nourishing to me is a wander down by the sea, to feel the roughness of wind, taste the salt on my skin, to shake loose all the things that have become too determined, too set in expectation.
I invite you to enter this poem as a form of lectio divina. Read it through slowly and notice what words or phrases are shimmering for you. Let those unfold in your heart and listen for the sense of invitation arising. Then watch the video below and see what new layers the visuals offer to you. It is a poem of direct address to someone – a loved one perhaps or a prayer to the sacred source. What is your prayer of resurrection as we enter into this season ahead?
I am grateful again to Luke and Jake Morgan of Morgan Creative here in Galway for collaborating with me on bringing these videos to life.
Englewood Review has a wonderful review up of Dreaming of Stones: "There is no hope without despair, no wonder without repulsion, no love without ugliness. Paintner’s poems remind us of this truth—which we all already know instinctively—with beauty and grace."
You can order your copy of Dreaming of Stones. I’d be so grateful if you’d consider posting a review to Amazon.com and Goodreads! It helps authors so much in getting their book seen by a wider audience.
Want to dive into sacred poetry with me in Chartres, France? Join me June 10-14, 2019 for a transformative week of reading and writing poetry together (no experience necessary) and the chance to walk an ancient labyrinth. Step onto the threshold where new possibilities beckon. Register here>>
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
Photo © Christine Valters Paintner