Poetry seemed like an impossibility when I was barely thirty and raising a young family.
My new year’s resolutions were the closest thing to poetry I had written for some time when my mom, an artist and author, (part poet, part prophet) gave me a book by an acquaintance of hers who had written about her life and what she learned from her experience driving in cars with boys. It was inscribed by the author, telling me to, “Keep writing!” I saw my name on the page in her scrawling script reminding me that I must keep writing; my stories needed to be told, poems needed to be penned; gifts need to be shared. Though I had a hard time believing anyone, other than my mom, wanted to hear them.
Besides, who has time to write poetry anyway? I was the mother of two busy little ones and the wife to an even busier man. There were diapers and dishes, and driveways to shovel. We lived in the land of eternal winter; it felt like spring would never come.
There was no time to daydream or write poetry.
Prayer became my new creative outlet, usually offered at bedtime or before meals, and poetry was buried deep down in the fallow ground of my thirties, like the small hardback book that wasn’t really about cars and boys so much as telling ones story, overcoming hardship and heartache, and working through pain to find passion and purpose. Both were tucked away somewhere under several boxes of books waiting to be donated to charity.
The bookstore clerk separated it from the pile, asked if I knew it was signed, could be valuable… shouldn’t I keep it? My youngest was getting restless. There were many more tasks to complete, expectations to meet, people to please, errands to run, boxes to pack, my children to tend… I had to hurry, “Don’t run!” It was time to leave. Thanks for taking the boxes. There was much more to do before moving day.
It was a busy season of change.
We changed churches. He changed jobs. I started a new career and opened my own business. Our kids left their school and we started to home school. I closed the business and put career plans on hold. We moved houses. We started a home-church. He got a new job in our home town. Our kids grew. I managed our household and home school and taught them. We read lots of books; I made sure some of them were poetry.
Sometimes we gave thanks and prayed together. Often we prayed poetry silently, our hearts listening quietly as we read.
The years passed.
Toddlers turned into teenagers with the eldest starting college as the youngest entered high school. Our marriage has seen fire and rain, sickness and health, rough waters and smooth sailing, valleys and mountains and molehills, (and usually we can tell the difference) and through it all we’ve learned to give thanks in everything.
And then one day, finally… forty. I loved leaning into the freedom of forty. I’ve always felt a bit ahead of myself with my age. Never more apparent than when I was a teenager, my parents used to say I was thirteen going on thirty. At thirty I felt I had almost caught up to myself, but forty felt like new territory, at last. Now, as surely and steadily as a summer sunset, my fourth decade has drawn to a close, and I find myself picking through a poesy of possibilities in a field of once forgotten dreams. While all of this is new and interesting, it is also unfamiliar. So I find solace in what I remember, and looking to the past I find guidance for the future as I keep fumbling forward toward faith, hope and the greatest of these, Love.
I am still learning.
As I look through this imperfect glass and see through it dimly, remembering that one day it will all become clear. I’m finding new ways to learn old truths and I’m trying to remember to receive even when I can’t perceive the fullness of God’s love for me.
And wasn’t it in a random blog post, an old love letter, or a new love song, notes to my children, in the poems they wrote for school, scattered thoughts scribbled on the back of a grocery list, in many a gratitude journal, or in a musty old, worn and thin, handwritten poetry journal that I have found a fragment of what I once thought I had lost?
There were simple prayers penned to my Savior to please sort out my latest mess…
whispered love songs to the Holy Spirit when language failed me…
fragments, remnants, remembrance…
communion, religion, faith…
truth, grace, gifts…
written on lines, in lists and letters never sent.
Yes, there were sacred secrets in the words I had penned.
And isn’t it in the day-to-day liturgy of living, in these mismatched moments, listening for whispers of His love in our ears as we continue to take our Savior’s hand in this dance through days and years, God’s poetry in motion, learning to live loved, and trying to remember even when we cannot see through this sometimes hazy window of our souls that we are at the very least, and the very most, only and always God’s own poetry?
© Una-Melina 2014.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s POETRY, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10