I was asked earlier this week to offer a reflection for the general meeting of the alumnae/alumni association for the Sacred Heart School of Halifax that took place last night. The idea was to lead into Saturday when there would be a talk on each of the calls of General Chapter 2016 and do this with a sense of past, present, future.
I thought the result would work for a blogpost too so I offer it here.
NOTE: ~ ~ denotes a quotation from the article I was reading.
FEEL PROFOUNDLY, LIVE POETICALLY
Someone once asked me about my creative process. I believe the actual question was the honest,
if blunt, “How do you DO that?” I answered—I appeal to the Muse, the Spirit,
for inspiration and trust in her kindness and generosity. I try to remain open, to listen, and not to
Such was the process this past Tuesday afternoon when
a certain PPIINNG broke through a serendipitous bit of reading on-line. There was the Facebook message inviting me to
offer a thought or three today. Once
we’d worked through my initial “Um.
Sure? Some context would be
helpful…” and I’d clicked close, I looked afresh at the article I had been
reading about ee cummings.
Thank you, Muse; Thank you Holy Spirit; for always
having my back.
In this article from the online journal Brain Pickings,
Maria Popova includes several excerpts from a collection of cummings’
~Almost anybody can learn to think, or believe, or
know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why?
Because whenever you think or you believe, or you know, you’re a lot of
other people: but the moment you feel,
~The moment you feel…you’re nobody-but-yourself.~ The moment we feel…we begin to flesh-out the
call we each have to be who we were created to be. The moment we allow ourselves to interact in
a heart-centered, bone-deep, intimately, inextricably, organic way with our
world and are affected by that, made vulnerable, by that…then we begin to
become Ourselves, uniquely and divinely, with a measure of glory and sometimes
a measure of mess.
Considering this had me look at the relationship
between feeling—this Becoming—and emotion-the expression of feeling. Turns out, the word emotion comes from the
middle French—to set in motion. So, when we feel and lay claim to the call of
who we are—heart-bone-mind-spirit-intimate-vulnerable-in relationship-in the
midst of This World of ours—we set ourselves in motion, that is, we act. We
participate. We influence and affect. One
way or another.
What we…or the world…thinks, believes, or knows, changes
over the course of time. And sometimes over
just a short time, in the grand scheme.
New discoveries are made, new truths are revealed, new beliefs develop based
on new experience…but the process of interacting honorably with the new, the process
of contemplation, feeling, being uniquely in motion, open, vulnerable, willing
to change…the process of learning to Love… within the context of whatever is
most real in the world wherever each one is…that is as old as creation itself.
ee cummings’ way of looking at this was a new and
refreshingly startling way for me to consider that when we feel, we are engaged
in an expression of the unique relationship we each have with God. How incredible to allow myself to feel—not
only think, know, and believe— the idea that being made in the image and
likeness of God is something that goes so far beyond the physicality of my
humanity that I see in the mirror and reflected all around me, in you, in the
trees, in the textures and colors …
He goes on to write, ~to be nobody-but-yourself—in a
world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else—means
to fight the hardest battle a human being can fight; and never stop fighting….
If at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and
feeling, you find you’ve written one line of one poem, you’ll be very lucky
It is hard work to offer our line to the world…to
allow ourselves to feel and to use what we know, believe, and think in ways
that are good for the world. It is hard… and perhaps like some of you here,
sometimes…sometimes I don’t feel. The motions are there. But the contemplation,
the vulnerability, the realizing of implication and responsibility and going
forward anyway…sometimes that is not there. And what I put forth is not out of
my fullness, the plenitude of God’s unique inspiration for me to offer to the
world for good, for Love…an offering that helps make it okay for others to live
out of their fullness too.
If I am not feeling…is it because I am overwhelmed?
There is too much of a muchness happening in our world? Perhaps that is a call to create silence, a space of respite, a welcome spaciousness…
If I am not feeling…is it because I believe myself to
be unaffected by plaguing realities in our world—realities like hunger,
poverty, climate change, war, violence, massive displacement of people… Well,
maybe that is a call to be and act
increasingly as One Body…to be in solidarity and allow ourselves to feel the
weight of someone’s truth and be affected by it…to work for justice and
reconciliation…and to feel the commonness of our humanity which does nothing to
diminish its greatness.
Am I afraid to feel?
Perhaps my boundaries need expanding… a call to new frontiers that challenge me to grow in freedom, grow
Is it that I have grown numb with all that bombards my
senses and sensibilities? What a call to
live more humanly…to live into the vulnerable glory, confusion, and wonder
of what that could mean. To live open to
~(love’s a universe beyond obey/or command, reality or
~love is a place / & through this place of/love
move / (with brightness of peace) / all places.~
~A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses [her]
feelings through words.~
Perhaps it could be said, then, by extension, that a
member of the Sacred Heart family is one who feels and who expresses their nobody-but-yourself-ness
through making a positive difference in this terrifically needy world.
What is taught, known, thought, believed, might have
changed…might be changing…but the call to be fully, obviously, who we are
created to be by God in order to make a positive difference, has not.
Small scale or large…limerick, sonnet, or haiku…
Let us feel profoundly; let us live poetically…
Cummings said… ~This may sound easy. It isn’t….Does that sound dismal? It isn’t.~