Friday, May 10, 2013

poetry heals

Every once in a while I suffer from bouts of anxiety. To look at me you might not notice when I'm in one of these funks. I still go to work, do my hair and eat mostly the same. But say I could draw some expression of what I feel and think inside - I'd show you something with dark colors, confused, messy strokes, and trust me, it would not be pretty. Actually - and I'm sorry to be graphic - it might actually look a little like puke, because that's what I often feel like doing, physically and verbally. That's what anxiety feels like.

But let's pull back for a moment, because I'm certainly not trying to share any kind of dark demons with anyone here. I'm just acknowledging - hey, they're there (and we all have some of some kind, right?). What is hopeful is that the simplest, unsuspecting experiences can punch holes in our darkness and allow some light to shine in.

That's what happened this morning. My particular current stream of anxiety has something to do with getting it right and carrying a certain fear that I'm messing up my life. Heavy, right?! No one should carry that, because messing up a life is a pretty hard thing to do, especially when you believe in the reality of a forgiving, redeeming, all-powerful God (which I do). But then I sat down at my computer and read a poem that came to my inbox today. It started with these lines:

I wish that there were some wonderful place
In the Land of Beginning Again.
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches
And all of our poor selfish grief
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door
and never put on again.*

So that's what this is, I thought, a shabby old coat. One that I can take off and leave and never put on again. And just like that, the tight feeling eased a bit. I forget that poetry - and writing in general - can do that. The personal becomes universal and helps us to feel not so alone. It's still pretty mysterious to me, but somehow the written word is so healing.

Are there any poems, verses or words that have brought you relief or healing?

*From "The Land of Beginning Again" by Louisa Fletcher

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