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 take advantage.
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’ essays.
~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, you’re nobody-but-yourself.~
~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 indeed.~
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 in relationship…
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.
~(love’s a universe beyond obey/or command, reality or un-)~
~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.~