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I once got a chance to do an all-day retreat with one of the sister Apostles of the Interior Life. Naturally, I wanted to discuss the role of leisure in the formation of persons! As usual, I prayed about the upcoming event, and God brought together several threads of my contemplation to weave this talk.
That same leisure that is so necessary to the formation of persons is also a critical component of artistry. Just try writing poetry without a good bit of leisure time in which to hold the contrary elements in juxtaposition. A mind jangled and busy and distracted is probably not writing poetry.
Enter my own poem, The Race, about my own tendency to jump out of bed and let necessity drive me through a day of must-dos and can’t-not-dos and distractions. Actually, that was really the old me, as I’m much less inclined to let that happen after these wonderful years of growth and holy leisure.
But I know that gal, and she’s a mess! Every woman at the retreat knows her, too, and so they moved through that poem with real interest, seeing themselves and elbowing one another.
Next we discussed how a poet writes a poem – in the context of Ephesians 2:10, where we are told that WE are poema – God’s workmanship, carefully crafted in much the same way. We all see ourselves imaged in the woman who ‘races past herself’ and sometimes past her loved ones, past her own needs and longings, past her Lord. But we may not see ourselves as works of art, as a place of encounter with Christ, as living prayers.
A poem has the capacity to be a place of encounter, and as such mirrors the human person in his fullness.
Holy leisure is the key – to being, to freedom, and to creativity. When I wrote Souls at Rest, I saw how much more needed to be said about the gift of holy leisure…hence, the trilogy that, after Souls at Work, will be finished with Souls at Play. My talks aren’t plugs for these books, and the books aren’t plugs for my talks, but somehow they all go together organically and keep enriching each other.
I’m so enjoying the adventure of watching it all happen. I wonder what’s next??
Here’s a collection of my talks that feature poetry, poems, or poetic formation.