Requiem for Myself ~ Poem Video: A Love Note from Your Online Abbess

Requiem for Myself

When I die
plant a pinwheel
in an open field
where winter’s wind
and rain march forcefully
across in battalions,
and you can stumble
out there to meet me
one late afternoon
when you feel the world
must surely be ending.

You, soaked
from tears and storms,
kinship with dark sky.
Me, rainbow axis whirling,
an orbit of
joyful defiance.

You then, inspired,
tumble gleefully
across grass, pirouette,
forgetting for a moment
grief’s burden,
knowing the world
will be with you
for many years to come.

Never think
this brief sojourn wasted
as you head back
to the fire waiting at home,
laughing to yourself
the whole way.

—Christine Valters Paintner

Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,

This week’s poem was inspired when I was visiting the Central Cemetery in Vienna a couple of years ago. My father and grandparents are buried there and it is a place of quiet reflection. As I strolled down the aisles of graves, looking at the different headstones and sculptures that marked the place of loved ones, I came to a grave of a child that had several pinwheels sticking into the earth on top. There was a gentle breeze so their brightly colored faces were spinning around inviting a sense of joyfulness.

In the monastic tradition there is a practice called memento mori, which means to “remember daily that you will one day die” as St Benedict writes in his Rule. This is not meant to be a morbid exercise but an act of presence to the gift of life and an invitation to cultivate gratitude each day for what we are able to still do.

Musician Margo Hennebach came on one of our Ireland pilgrimages a couple of years ago with her husband Mark. Both are very gifted musicians and out of that experience she wrote a beautiful song called “Holy Well” which is on our Celtic album. I later sent her some of my poems to see if any inspired a song for her and she came back with one for this poem that really expressed the sense of joyfulness I was trying to convey. She does adapt some of the lyrics to enhance the musicality of the words.

So we have again a multi-layered collaboration with my poem, the song by Margo, and our wonderful local filmmaker Luke Morgan creating a video to express the poem.

I invite you to read the poem once through slowly and see if there is an image that shimmers for you or sense of invitation that arises from it. Then watch the video and see if there are any other layers that are revealed. When you remember your mortality, what rises up as essential in your life?

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

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Video © Christine Valters Paintner

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