Freedom in a Poem

poetry helps make space in a day to look longer, dig deeper


To spiritually align our lives with what we know be true is the work of a lifetime, or at least that of an intentional season set apart.

While much good work can be done on the fly, or in the deepening pause of a reflective moment, there are times when we need face the big rocks, deal with the deeper issues and tackle stubborn roots. This takes time.

Spiritual work takes a certain kind of time; time invested with a willingness to trust God, the voice we discern as his own, leading us places we cannot reach on our own because it would simply be too lonely—even hopeless.

To hear God’s voice in our life, to him speaking to us in a meaningful, restorative way, it is necessary to enter into a time of silence and, most likely, solitude.

Abraham Heschel in his wonderful book, Between God and Man, says, “The peace of mind attainable in solitude is not the result of ignoring that which is not the self or escaping from it, but of reconciliation with it.”

When we make space for solitude, we work to get alone with our thoughts, rumblings, dissatisfaction and persistent hopes and dreams. This is the difference between the unwelcome void of isolation, which can be our undoing, and solitude which can be life-giving and even transformative.

  • all of it
  • all of us
  • alone, with God
  • to hear

The hearing is essential to becoming who we are in God’s eyes, which is the Beloved, the Important. The Favoured.

  • In hearing, we see.
  • In seeing, we know.

And on this we can build a firm foundation; we can arrange (and re-arrange) the big pieces, the mammoth rocks, the root issues of our day-to-day life. Entire paradigms can shift. We can be set free.

By simplifying our approach, by aligning our priorities with the essence of what we know to be true—about us in God’s eyes—we strengthen and uphold the core of our identity. By getting down to spiritual basics, we shore up our spiritual appreciation of all that God has done for us and continues to do.

It’s on this solid, firm foundation that we can add the particulars, manage the complexities, face the impossible squarely in the face, without blinking.

Only the faithful prove fearless.

Poetry is an invitation to move towards reshaping our lives around this quiet place of resolution, understanding and courage. Towards stillness. Towards a deeper appreciation of what it means to live fortified with love, which lends itself to resolution, understanding and courage. The one who knows they are loved—because they have intimated such in the quiet moments of their soul—is able to face the less lovely pieces of life, even the really ugly pieces that serve to disquiet our soul.

Only for the sake of a greater love can we live unburdened by hate or thoughts of revenge, feelings of despair or out from under the shadow of bitterness and rage. To love is to be free, to live in hope. To offer forgiveness that comes from a place of truth and reconciliation.

To live untangled, untwisted lives is to have walked through the valley to emerge on the other side, stronger for wisdom gleaned and lessons learned. Anyone who’s been there, done that, knows that spiritual freedom is not for the faint of heart: that it takes the arm and heart of God to see us through our darkest hour.

In times alone with God we learn to know the source of our hope, the depth of his love and how to have faith in his presence.

We learn we were made for this life. And the next.

In poetry we find a small taste of such things. A taste of solitude, of a soul seeking to be one with God—this is the poet’s voice—seeking to know and live the truth it gleans and gains. To be fearless in the face of life’s inevitable setbacks and profound disappointments. To know that there is more. That love is achievable. That God is great.

Poetry, of course, is not our salvation. It is not truth, peace and righteousness itself. These are only its values, its echoes, its aims. It is a small sampling, a diamond from the mine. A single star in a crowded sky. But God is the light. The way. The truth and the life. Poetry is only a line towards starting—and extending—the conversation.

If the need is small, a poem may serve. But when the need is large a poem is but a pointer towards the solution, the salve. Towards the greater Silence and Solitude that are preludes to knowing God more, to trusting his voice, knowing his love.




%d bloggers like this: