Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Poetry and action

Sometimes, we can get so caught up in matters of social justice that we let our spiritual life slip, devoting more time to action and less to prayer. Deacon Walter Ayres, a member of the Commission on Peace and Justice, reflected on how poetry can be one way to enrich our spirituality in a recent issue of the diocesan newspaper The Evangelist:
One of my favorite poets is Mary Oliver, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. In “Thirst,” a collection of poems, she addresses her discovery of faith and how she dealt with grief after the death of her partner of more than 40 years.

My favorite, titled, “Praying,” offers invaluable insight for anyone who has struggled with how to talk with God: “...patch/a few words together and don’t try/to make them elaborate, this isn’t a contest....”

Another poem, “The Uses of Sorrow,” takes just two sentences to provide a lifetime of reflections: “Someone I love once gave me/a box full of darkness./It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.”

For me, reading poetry is like the ancient practice of lectio divina, the reading of and reflection on the sacred Scriptures. We read the text, select a portion and then reflect on it. Just as God speaks to us through His inspired Word, He also can speak to us through the poems we read.

God’s Word does not just inform us or give us knowledge; it transforms us. Good poetry can help change us as well, if we appreciate it in the proper way.

The rest of the article is here.

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