During Lent, my discipline has included writing a poem daily about something I am attentive to either outwardly or inwardly. Almost halfway through the season, I am finding it a practice that is helping me to be more aware of myself, others and the world. It has also caused me to be more reflective about experiences, even those I don’t capture in a poem.
Simone Weil said that absolute attention is prayer. I do believe that this attentiveness I am attempting to practice is connecting me more closely to God, to others and to my own way of being and responding.
I hope it is making me more open-hearted, a term I read in a book of Lent and Easter devotions. In a piece about Thomas, the disciple who wouldn’t believe unless he could put his hands in the wounds of the risen Jesus, Romano Guardini says: And those are called blessed who make the effort to remain open-hearted. Who seek to cleanse their hearts of all self-righteousness, obstinacy, presumption, inclination to “know better.” Who are quick to hear, humble, free-spirited. Who are able to find God’s message in the gospel for the day, or even from the sermons of preachers with no message in particular, or in phrases from the Law they have heard a thousand times, phrases with no quality of charismatic power about them, or in the happenings of everyday life which always end up the same way: work and rest, anxiety—and then again some kind of success, some joy, an encounter, and a sorrow.
When I look over the poems I’ve written so far, there is nothing particularly momentous recorded. Nothing terribly inspirational on its face. They record the feel of bare feet on stones, the fuzzy bud of a Japanese magnolia, the way new information touches me, tears shared among friends, how bird song cheers me, and recognition of my own pain and the pain of others. As Guardini says, the happenings of everyday life. It is all prayer. It is all God. May I be able to recognize it even after Lent is over.