Poetry in Perilous Times (3)

We have not had very much precipitation in the mountains this winter.  We’ve had three big storms that deposited a lot of snow in the city proper and on the mountain.  However, it was quickly washed away with rain at the lower elevations.  February brought idyllic spring-like weather.  While we enjoyed it, we also felt some trepidation.  The summer and fall of 2018 were frightening to us living in this highly forested area.  Fires sprung up in every direction around us.  We were told to be packed and ready to evacuate…but where to, we wondered.  Some of us stashed non-perishable food staples in the car, packed a suitcase, a tent, sleeping bag, bottled water, clothing, important papers, etc.

The smoky skies extended throughout the summer months starting in early July through October.  It was an intense panorama of smoke-filled days and nights.  We wore masks when we ventured out.  Typically, summer is a time to appreciate the lakes and hiking trails, to walk briskly, climb, swim and breathe deeply the fresh mountain air.  Not then.  Honestly, there is a certain dread of the coming summer.  Without a winter of sufficient rain and snow, we pray for our own safety and that of our forests and forest creatures.

I wrote this poem in September of 2018…

When the not-so-far ridges have been obscured
by smoke for months…
When your mind is clouded with confusing thoughts…
When what you once perceived proves to be false
or limiting…
When you sip your morning
cup of tea and place one foot
in front of the other
and say yes to this new day,
you have learned faith.

The smoke hangs on the ridge waiting for
directions from the wind.
The firefighters are out there
day and night manning
bulldozers, helicopters, heavy machinery–
we trust them to do their jobs–
to be wisely directed by those
who understand the nature
of fighting fire in a heavily forested area
with up and down rugged terrain.  We
have to trust them.  We have to trust
and to hold onto faith that everything is
going to be alright…
and until then,
that we can bear it–
be strong
be patient
and live our lives truly
and boldly.

We have to trust that we have
sufficient courage,
to share our gifts and
to proceed
into this new day.
We go forward into the uncertainty
on wings of prayer, hope and trust
and faith
and whatever love looks like today.

Then, I go into the garden to harvest tomatillos.

tomatillos

As of this moment, it is snowing and accumulating.  Yay!  And the rest of March might bring more precipitation.  We hope so.

 

Faith

Autumn
by Rainer Maria Rilke

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all the other stars in the loneliness.

We’re all falling.  This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one…It’s in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, hold up all this falling.

****
This poem is a metaphor for faith.  Many poets have written about faith.  It is a worthy topic. 

 

 

The poet, David Whyte, reads his poem, Faith. It is about his desire for faith and his uncertainty about where or if it is to be found. This poem is a man’s prayer for faith in something greater. I’ve mentioned earlier than any poem deserves at least two readings.  David Whyte does this for us…his style of reading  is to repeat a poem numerous times.  Through that repetition, I am touched at a deeper level.  As a listener, I am engaged more fully in the life of the poem…where it sprung from and what the poet invokes, desires or designs.

Writing Prompt:
Have you written about faith?  That word, the concept behind it, takes the writer on a journey into his/her own deep psyche.  Exploring your views on faith, might
create a vulnerability that many want to avoid.  Today, I am going to allow myself to be that vulnerable and write about faith, quietly, here at my desk in my little cottage in the mountains as I look out upon the Autumn colors, the leaves falling, a confetti of colors lying on the ground.