One of the beauties of the spiritual journey is that we have available to us an abundance of teachers. I have been blessed with many great ones. Spiritual mentors ranging from Henri Nouwen to Abraham Joshua Heschel to Thich Nhat Hanh. Paintings such as Van Gogh’s famous Starry Night. Plays such as Our Town. Movies such as A River Runs Through It. I have had some unexpected sources for spiritual growth to include baseball. And, in the therapy room, I have met some extraordinary teachers and have been taught some extraordinary lessons. Some of the lessons have also come to me through poems.
There are certain poems that have stayed with me from when I first came across them. These have been small beacons that have offered me simple guidance in facing various life challenges.
Certainly one of the best known of all poems, rich in imagery and guidance, is the 23rd Psalm. It is a poem to which many have turned during dark times, reassured that, even as we walk through the Dark Valley, we are not alone. It is a special comfort for those of us who battle addiction and a gentle reminder to “let go and let God”.
Other poems that have been spiritual teachers have taught me important life lessons. Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” has illuminated my struggles with major decisions and has encouraged me not to look back, not to dwell on the Road Not Taken but rather to focus on the path I have chosen.
Langston Hughes’ poem A Dream Deferred is a powerful reminder to me of the crushing devastation of poverty and racism. It also forcefully challenges me to honestly assess what dreams I have deferred and what impact that has had on my mind and soul.
Of course I include a baseball poem here, the wonderful “Polo Grounds” which speaks to me not only of the passage of time but of the challenge for me to pay attention
Finally I would share Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go gentle Into That Good Night” which captures for me both the attitude with which I wish to face death as well as my own grief over my father’s passing.
Reflections: Do you have a poem that has lighted your way. If so, what poem and how?