Poetry Reveals There Is Nothing but Meaning
Nancy is a poet who lives in Boulder, CO and a community college teacher in Denver, CO. She has been writing poetry since she was a child and continues to express in this way as a form of healing.
"About three years ago, a dear vagabond artist friend gave me a birthday gift from the deep pockets of his poverty. Faced with this unabashed grace, all I could do was say Thank You.
Such a gift has many blessings, including being free from expectations about outcomes. I freely and happily enrolled in a weekend workshop at Naropa University, “Poetic Medicine with John Fox.”
It was a sparkling weekend in Colorado, and not easy to go inside even for such a gathering of people honoring healing through poetry. I understood the concept from working in occupational therapy many years ago. The concept is an empty shell compared with the powerfully healing medicine we created that weekend.
We read poems about meaning, nothing but meaning, until we came to the point: there is nothing but meaning. We wrote and shared our poems that expressed our experiences of deep meaning: then we listened. Quietly. Just listened, no verbal response. Just witnessing these powerful expressions of our human meaning as we express and connect with the divine, in whatever form it makes itself known to us. Once again, there is nothing but meaning. We don't have to understand it or be able to explain it with reason or logic.
Just listen, no expectations. In this company of strangers, whom I came to know in some of the deepest places in their hearts and souls that weekend, I felt what it means to say my truth in my way and be accepted with no need for explanations or qualifications. This was a first for me. Now I know it is possible.
The poems here came to be during the workshop. They bear witness to the healing I experienced by expressing some of my deepest feelings/meanings in the presence of silent witnesses.
John Fox asked us to write about something we desire and something that keeps us from it, a perfect opportunity for healing. Out of nowhere, I thought, this poem said itself to me.
Prayer to the Absent Parent
Keep me from holding myself apart,
and when I start to shut the door,
just let the breeze blow through the crack
to remind me, breathing is what
we share. Take my arm gently
like you were afraid to do,
so I can go into the world
Walk me into unknown
crowds in my easy shoes
and a simple strength within
so I don't have to dress myself
in overcoats and steel-toed
boots and stand apart
and shout without words—
“Leave me alone!
Don't— leave me alone!”
Hold up a mirror so I can see
the parent you could have been,
in me, if only you were not compelled,
from some deep place in you,
to hold apart.
Tell me it is not too late to join.
Say, “Honey, we may be slow
but we are sure!”
Then tell me what it is we're sure of.