Every Friday, I close my yoga class with a poem. I open up a poetry book to a random page and read whatever poem is on the page. I trust that the right poem will show up…and don’t worry that it might not “fit”. But the poem always seems to deeply resonate with someone, or everyone. It’s rare that I don’t get some feedback, whether right away or in a message later, that the poem really meant something to someone. I’m often posting the poems that are well loved so that people can come back to them.
They are like little gifts. This week’s really resonated with me:
“Peace seep in…and slows my heartbeat to the pace of nature. I take refuge in the quiet, and let my burdens go.”
What is it about poetry that it’s able to seep in to the depths of our souls? What is it about being in nature that it’s able to seep in to the depths of our souls?
How is it that poetry and nature can both connect us and disconnect us at the same time? It’s like we begin to quietly unwind from the things that do not matter and re-twine with that which truly matters. Our own souls connected to one another. Our own souls connected to Grace, to Spirit, to God. Our own souls awaken to realize that we, each of us, has a gift and is put here in this time, in this place, for a purpose.
How is it that in poetry and in nature, we connect to who we are and what we are meant to do? We disconnect and reconnect. And sometimes, we put the book down or step inside and…forget.
But, we also remember. It’s the ultimate heart opener and that’s what matters, whether we remember and carry it with us or simply feel it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about God and prayer and how we connect to God. It comes back to the children’s story about “who is God?”. There are as many different versions of God as there are people. There are as many ways to connect to God as there are people. Perhaps using poetry and trees as as an example didn’t resonate at all with you.
I think, for many of us, and the kids, using Jesus as an example is one of the great ways we connect to God. He’s like a bridge between our human side and our spiritual side so that we have a guide that helps us to connect to a big, divine God or Spirit. Sometimes, it is as simple as: What would Jesus do?
We have so many stories within the Bible, and in our oral traditions, that help us to connect. Sometimes, we might resonate with other people from the Bible. Maybe it’s Peter, we’ll get to him in a moment, or one of the women that resonates more deeply. Maybe it’s someone else…maybe it’s God or Holy Spirit. Maybe it’s Breath or Wisdom. It’s one of the reasons we have saints and mystics. They resonate with us. We connect to them, and in turn that helps us to connect to Grace and Spirit, God.
Sometimes, we connect to a specific passage or a psalm. Sometimes a special hymn…oh, we could talk for hours about music as a pathway to Spirit. Sometimes, it’s a parable or maybe a proverb, or a story that has deep meaning for your life. Have you noticed there are so many various ways of connecting in the Bible. I think it might be true: the Bible is a big library of stories and poems and words to help guide us.
I think stories, in general, are a great way to discover God and how to live a life of Grace. I was thinking about this the other day in a debate over a movie. The debate was over whether a specific character was a good model for living or just plain selfish. Followed by another movie where the main character committed terrible acts, but as you heard his whole story, you had compassion for him anyway. I love words and stories. I think when the story isn’t ‘real’ or the characters aren’t ‘real’, we can dig deeper into right and wrong and what is true and right without condemning or sainting a ‘real’ person.
Back to poems. That’s this week’s connection. So, I started writing this. I had my notes for where I wanted to go with this. Then I started writing. I opened up my poetry book from Friday to copy the lines I wanted to share and as I was about to close the book, I noticed the poem on the opposite page. It was called Peter’s Plea.
This is a book of poems for a yoga class. Yes God comes in. Yes Grace. Yes nature. Yes poetry and words. Yes sometimes there’s a living person who shows us the work of God. I’ve come across Jesus a few times and Mary…but Peter? And Peter on the opposite page of a poem I was referencing to write my Sunday reflection? It struck me.
The poem references the moment that Peter denies Jesus. It’s the denial that Jesus tells Peter he will do. Three times you will deny me, Jesus tells him, and after the third, the cock will crow. Three times he does and it escalates. Nope, not me, becomes I don’t know him, to becomes a vehement denial. Fear. Fear does crazy things. As an aside, in other texts, the Revelation of Peter, there is a reference to Peter’s three denials as a more internal denial of inner seeing, where it’s not a physical denial, but a denial that he is ready internally for this inner seeing, the deep inner world of spirit.
These three denials are also connected to the three professions of love for Jesus that Peter offers to Jesus after the resurrection. Do you love me? Yes. Do you love me? Yes. Do you love me? Yes. These are connected by an image of fire that only takes place here and in Peter’s denial. It is a moment when Jesus fully forgives and restores Peter.
Connecting us to last week, we have the waters of Baptism with John. This week, we have the water of Tears. Peter’s tears represent mourning and comfort. They represent repentance and forgiveness sought…and given.
I, of course, got sidetracked on the internet looking at art. Art. There is such amazing art. So much of it inspired by our stories. These stories. This story. You will find one of my favorite paintings on the website for this reflection. God comes to us in mysterious ways. I feel this deeply right now, as most of you know. This is not a place I expected, intended, or sought in life…and somehow, here I am. Serving.
And then…I always look at who’s holy day is coming up as inspiration for my reflections. Tomorrow is the Holy Day for the Confession of…Saint Peter, first among the apostles to confess Jesus as the Messiah and Son of the living God.
And so, being open, we connect the dots and trust. I open a book of poems on Friday morning and that leads us here to this moment. Maybe I’m just looking for the dots and how they connect…or maybe, just maybe, there’s something more going on.