I once worked for a semi-weekly newspaper and I remember my editor making a deal with me about the column that I wrote called, “Just Common“. I had recently become a Christian and so much of the meat of what I wrote about in this column had to do with themes that resonated with that new found lifestyle.
He told me that I could write anything I wanted to in the Tuesday paper, but that in Thursday’s issue I had to write about the rest of life—mostly meaning to him at the time politics and so forth. I guess he was looking for more serious editorial content to balance out the nuggets of wisdom I was gleaning from reading Paul and the rest of the New Testament authors.
It was a compromise I was more than happy to make and the rest, as they say, is history. Aside from a few yellowed newspaper sheets I have in a box in the basement, that time and those writings are more or less gone forever.
Which brings me to this entry—my last effort being somewhat serious, this outing will be more of what you have come to expect from the long ride guy.
Several weeks ago I picked my wife up in Winston Salem after having spent time with my daughter in Raleigh. We meet halfway and since they were caught in some traffic, I got to spend a little more time than usual in one of my favorite haunts—the Barnes and Noble bookstore just off the I-40 expressway. It is right by a Macaroni Grill but that is another story.
The extra time I had was spent in the poetry section looking for a title or two that would jump out at me crying “read me—read me” in that small voice that only readers of poetry and other book-store browsers can relate to.
I am happy to report that I found a couple of poets that I had never read or even heard of and have enjoyed their company the past couple of weeks. One poet, Jane Kenyon, was married to a guy I met while at Michigan State University. His name is Donald Hall and he is a poet and author of the book entitled, “The Ox Cart Man” which is one of my all time favorite childrens’ books.
Jane is not with us now but has left a small body of work that speaks of the rural experience in a way that I have found quite refreshing. One poem in particular grabbed my attention and is the foundation behind the thought for this entry. The poem is entitled simply “Wash” and goes like this:
All day the blanket snapped and swelled
on the line, roused by a hot spring wind….
From there it witnessed the first sparrow,
early flies lifting their sticky feet,
and a green haze on the south-sloping hills.
Clouds rose over the mountain….At dusk
I took the blanket in, and we slept,
restless, under its fragrant weight.
Jane Kenyon – Wash
This is what I call a poetic moment—one that Jane grabbed from the many that float by us everyday. The very thought of those sheets soaking up the atmosphere around them and then you or me falling asleep between them is an event that is so soft and so quiet that most will never experience it.
But this is reality—if we really are honest with ourselves—and a reality that often slips by in a storm of busyness that seems to fill our every waking moment.
How much more pleasant would our lives be if we would but take the time to filter a few of these picture poems through our consciousness on a daily basis. We could revolutionize our lives to the point where our relationships to the world around us and the people we meet would be a novel such as the world has never read.
Just as we don’t really appreciate the rainy days until we have had several months of drought, our lives have mostly been lived on a level of just getting by rather than in the throes of romance or adventure, intrigue, joy or hope.
Not that every moment is golden or even has the potential to reach a poetic crescendo, but there are more of them than there are not. And that’s a ride I would like to take.