What Poetry Made Me Wonder

I’ve always harbored a certain fascination for poetry.  I’m not one of those people that can sit down and just read poetry for kicks, but there’s something about the occasional poem that hits my soul a certain way.  Times when I just read a few lines and marvel about the staggering meaning or simplistic beauty they contain.

I am not an English major, I don’t analyze them, I do not read T.S. Eliot for fun, (though I did try to read Dante once on a whim.  It didn’t go well).  But every now and then Robert Frost or Oscar Wilde or Pablo Neruda and I will hang out together and enjoy some well-written words, and I will marvel at the genius and artistry hidden in the carefully spaced lines.

In light of this, when I moved into my first apartment I decided it would be a good idea to print out some of my favorites and tape them to the insides of my cupboard doors.  The thought behind this was that this way I would be reading poetry every day, because every time I opened a door there it would be, an invitation to experience beauty.

For the first few weeks it worked pretty well.  I remember that Frost’s “Stopping By The Woods On a Snowy Evening” was in my silverware drawer, that I would read Pablo Neruda’s “If You Forget Me” if I went to find some tupperware, and if I needed my crockpot I’d read Billy Collins’ “Litany”.  But then something happened that I should have been prepared for.

I simply stopped seeing them.  I stopped seeing the words, the paper, (which is tough, because I’d mounted them on all kinds of bright colors).  I forgot they were there.  The poems, the beauty, became everyday, mundane, something I’d grown so used to that it no longer registered as existing.  Perhaps I would have missed them if they’d been suddenly gone.  Perhaps I wouldn’t have noticed. Life had grown too fast to take time to read poems while I was making dinner.  Life had grown too fast to read poems at all.

My point to all this is to say that I think I do the same thing with God.  His poetry, His beauty is around me every day. All the time.  He’s put things in my path, in my day, in my routine that should remind me of Him.  Things that I should see, and stop, and consider and read and love and admire.

Poems that I should savor.  Beauty to enjoy.

But life has grown too fast to notice God.  His beauty, which once stood out to me, has become normal.  Things that should still inspire and awe me have faded into the scenery of my life.  Something I glance at, but don’t really see.  They are no longer new and different, and so they are forgotten.

I am not sure what to do about this problem.  Or really, what I can do, besides pray.  Pray that God will jolt me out of myself.  I have no power to fix this failing in me.  But He does.  And so I will work to see with newer eyes, read with a more careful heart.

And perhaps to slow down a little bit, so that I can hear God speaking to me, perhaps through the words of a poem.

“If you’re a dreamer, come in.

If you’re a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,

A hop-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer,

If you’re a pretender, come, sit by my fire.

For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.

Come in! Come in!”

– Shel Silverstein, Invitation