Featured Poet: Arianne Braithwaite Lehn

Last spring we launched a series with poets whose work we love and want to feature and will continue it moving forward.

Our next poet is Arianne Braithwaite Lehn whose recent work is centered on prayer with strong themes of acceptance, surrender, intention, and trust. Read her poetry and discover more about the connections she makes between poetry and the sacred. Watch and lister to her read "When I Need Perspective at the Start of the Day" below.

When I need perspective at the start of the day

In this day, O God,

May I be alert.
May I be kind.
May I be compassionate.
May I be authentic,
May I be generous.
May I be forgiving.
May I be honest.
May I be brave.
May I be forgiving (again).
May I be open.
May I be creative.
May I be strong.
May I live from my intentions,
not simply my habits.

And may I hold closely in
prayer the people
you bring to my heart
and mind right now....

May I focus,
may I trust,
and above all,
may I be yours.

Amen.

Themes of Her Work

Much of my current poetry is prayer – when I direct my words toward God, I experience the opening of a unique and powerful channel within my heart and voice. My prayers are meant to help us holistically embrace the mess and beauty of our lives. There are strong themes of acceptance, surrender, intention, and trust. I view life as a pilgrimage, with each of us journeying toward the most sacred site of all – the heart within, where God dwells and our truest selves live, intertwined as one.

When I need to breathe and live into something new

Spirit of Life,

Teach me to breathe…
to gulp with desperate surrender
your life-giving energy,
not out of fear,
but because I am listening
to my primal hungers
and rejoicing in them.

The breath you give me in
this moment is a messenger,
telling me how right now
I am reborn.
I am cared for.
I am called…

Charged with the call
to channel my breath,
your life-force,
toward a gasping world.

Your breath is eternal –
never stopping,
never returning empty.

It continuously flows to
spread life and promise
if I will be a river rather than a dam.

If I listen, I will learn.

I will ride the wind of
your breath now filling me,
letting it carry me away from
my middle anchor to the
edges where I’ll grow and glimpse
the purpose you have
for ever-evolving me.

Amen.

Poetry and the Sacred

My experience of the Divine is a continually expanding one. I believe God is always about bringing new dimensions, colors, hues, and ways of seeing life in this world, and that is exactly what the reading and writing of poetry does for me. It brings to life the vibrancy within our ordinary days and our everyday experiences. Poetry settles me into a kind of “soul stillness,” which is where I hear God best and follow what God desires (“Be still”).

Poetry helps me practice gratitude, which is one of the most foundational spiritual practices I can think of. Because much of my poetry is prayerful in nature, I’m awakened to the tender ways God is present and at work within and around me.

Poetry is not meant to be productive, and there in lies much of its sacred power for me. It centers us in the inherent, unshakeable belovedness of all God’s created, and the goodness of our Creator.

Mary

A Poem for Advent

Waiting time is pregnant time.
Hold,
Hope,
Trust.
Possibilities and promise push
my soul to its outer-rim,
making haven in the uncomfortable.

What lies beyond beckons
to what grows within.
“Come…”

Creaking, groaning, stretching,
the womb grows and Hands shape my soul.

I cannot expand any further,
it hurts too much.
This rim.

It’s the limit.

Then pain and grace interlock fingers,
holding me fast in perfect embrace.
I breathe into birth
and cry my
raw, new melody.

About Arianne Braithwaite Lehn

Arianne Braithwaite Lehn is a writer, pastor, and creator who is passionate about connection. An ordained clergy-couple minister in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and a team writer for Illustrated Ministry, Arianne is the author of Ash and Starlight: Prayers for the Chaos and Grace of Daily Life (Chalice Press), and has written for her blog (Ash and Starlight), Upper Disciplines: A book of Daily Devotions 2018 (Upper Room Books), Pause: Moments to Reflect (Passport Media), The Christian Century, Presbyterians Today, These Days, as well as the musical composition of “Ash and Starlight.” Arianne lives in Wilmette, IL with her husband and children. Connect with Arianne at ArianneBraithwaiteLehn.com where she blogs and offers a weekly devotional newsletter.

Her book can be purchased at: Amazon, Chalice Press, and other major retailers.

Dreaming of Stones

Christine Valters Paintner's new collection of poems Dreaming of Stones has been published by Paraclete Press.

The poems in Dreaming of Stones are about what endures: hope and desire, changing seasons, wild places, love, and the wisdom of mystics. Inspired by the poet’s time living in Ireland these readings invite you into deeper ways of seeing the world. They have an incantational quality. Drawing on her commitment as a Benedictine oblate, the poems arise out of a practice of sitting in silence and lectio divina, in which life becomes the holy text.

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