Thursday, May 19, 2011

Coracles and Modern Communication

I'm usually a morning person.  I spring from sleep during what most of the rest of the world would consider the middle of the night, and I'm refreshed and creative and ready to greet the morning, once it catches up with me. 

For about a week, I've been waking up feeling a bit run over, sluggish, grouchy, and with the added annoyance of not being able to fall back asleep, but not being able to get work of any kind done either.

Happily, this morning I seem to be back to my old self.  I woke up and thought about going for a walk, but decided to write a poem first.  Hours later, I've decided that a good morning writing is better than a walk of any kind.

I found myself captivated by this post of Dave Bonta's about his experience with coracles on his recent trip to Wales.  He reminded us of the ancient Celtic monks, some of whom set off without even an oar.  Somehow, my brain made some connections to the modern workplace, and I was off, composing a poem.

Then, unable to let go of these images, I turned to writing my blog post for my theology blog, where I was inspired by coracles in a whole different direction.

I'm thinking about my writing process this morning.  I started noodling around on the Internet because I couldn't remember any of the ideas I'd had for poems, and I sometimes get inspired by reading over my old blog posts--often because I've written down my ideas for poems there.  From there, I navigated to Dave's post, and that was that.  The poem flowed right out of me, and even though I wasn't sure how to end it, I started typing it into the Microsoft Word document, and it came to me.

It could have been longer--there are many other connections I could make.  But I'll save those for another day, when I've had more time to ponder.

I've worried a bit about my interest in spiritual topics seeping in to all of my poems.  In my younger years, I tried to keep everything compartmentalized.  I've had a lot of atheist friends, and just as many friends who, although not atheists, are turned off by any whiff of spiritual stuff.  So, for a long time, I didn't even send out my poems that wandered into those spiritual topics.

I've wondered if society is changing, or just the people I meet.  My poem, "Heaven on Earth," is one of the most popular of any I've ever written, and when I first wrote it, I resisted it, because it felt slightly heretical to me (Jesus smoking!), and it took me even longer to send it out.

Now I'm wondering if I might not have been on the cutting edge of something.  Is a poetry of spiritual questions the next big thing?  These two posts (here and here) have made me wonder.

Me?  The cutting edge of fashion?  Surely not.

In the meantime, here's my poem.  You can tell me if the spiritual stuff works or if it's just offputting (and if the offputting is so disruptive that it needs to go or if it's the kind that you're still thinking about at 2 in the morning as you dream of rafts and oars).

Coracle of Prayer


As my computer dings
its constant reminders
of meetings and appointments,
I think of those ancient
Celtic monks and their coracles,
their faith in fragile canoes and currents
and a God who will steer
them where they need to go.

Having given over my free will
to Microsoft Office, I allow
the calendar to steer
me. I rely on my e-mails as a rudder,
although I often feel adrift
on this sea of constant communication.

Perhaps it is time to ransom my soul
which has been sold to this empire
of the modern workplace.
I look to the monks
and their rigorous schedule of prayer.
Feeling like a true subversive,
I insert appointments for my spirit
into the calendar. I code
them in a secret language
so my boss won’t know I’m speaking
in a different tongue. I launch
my coracle of prayer
into this unknown ocean,
the shore unseen, my hopes
rising like incense across a chapel.

2 comments:

Beth said...

Well, I for one really like this poem, and am not put off at all! (I worry about the same things, Kristin, you're not alone.)

Kristin said...

Thanks, Beth, for your comments. I think the atmosphere for poems that have spiritual elements is shifting, but I can't be sure yet where the shift will end up.