Friday, June 14, 2013

On Being a Monk, an Artist, a Mystic: An Assignment from The Artist’s Rule


A year or so ago, I found this delightful little book called "The Artist’s Rule, A Twelve Week Journey: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom."   It was exactly what I needed, and total confirmation that I am on the right track, whatever that is.  The first time I read it, it moved me to tears on nearly every page.  It was, as she said, like coming home.  I didn’t do any of the exercises, however, I just read it.  Recently, though, I bought the book with the intention of actually doing them, and so far, I have honored that intention.  One of this week’s assignments was to write a poem based on the title of another, which she suggested.

Whenever I write poetry or a short piece about my own life, it always feels like I am invaded, or inhabited by and filled up with the idea of the poem or the story.  This was a new experience, to write as an assignment. It was interesting to discover that the Muse was with me just the same. The Muse, I am learning, can be invited in.  I don’t have to wait for her. I can’t speak for how good the poem is, but I can say that once I began the journey to write it, that sense of fullness, that sense of the Muse’s presence, was with me.

So here’s the poem:

Like a monk in a monastery, 
I sink into the morning’s silence
and breathe in to its fullness,
letting it fill me to the brim
with its luminous presence.

In the quiet of morning rounds
I listen for the still, small voice
in the whisper of sheets as they glide over pillows,
the hiss and pop of the coffee maker,
the clank of dishes and rattle of silverware
as they are lifted high and returned
to their rightful places.

The depth and roundness of the new coffee mug,
itself a sacred vessel in the colors of Morocco
remind me of the need to empty and fill, empty and fill
ever open to possibility and change.

I decorate myself with fabric and bangles, angles and sparkles,
dance into the day like my own little Mariachi band.
Surrounded by reds and purples and blues, I splash and glue them
onto canvas and fill the universe with my love and gratitude
for the colors of joy and laughter.

On the way out the door to the “real” world, I avert my gaze
from the tangle of amp wires left forgotten under a window
and the messiness left on the counter by hands I happen to love
and remember, instead, the Four Sisters leaning over a stream,
their green leaves shushing as one in a warm breeze,
the four of them enchanted to be in the world
with such delightful, birch-y company.

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