Praying in Random Places

I have written elsewhere in this blog that writing poetry, especially when I was writing a poem a day for 365 consecutive days from September 2018 until September 2019, is a spiritual practice. So it seems appropriate to write about prayer in the Sunday Weekly poem. As Samuel Becket said:

Samuel Beckett meme
Sam Beckett looking all prayerful

Samuel Beckett spent a portion of his youth at the Royal Portora School in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, which is not a million miles away from where we live. We live in this edgy part of Ireland where Cavan meets Fermanagh meets Leitrim. Last Sunday found us doing some life laundry (and literal laundry, too) in the nearby town of Manorhamilton, about sixteen miles from us. (NB: we live an average of twenty miles from anywhere in three directions that is a recognisable centre of population, with a number of commercial outlets and services.)

So this is what I do when I have a spare hour and a half when I can multi-task with a domestic task.

In the Mace in Manorhamilton I Sit Down And
 
It strikes me that, sitting
at a laminate table, on a banquette,
drinking my coffee, and imitation
pain au chocolat, that
 
this is a good place to pray
while my laundry cycles,
getting all sweet-smelling and
washed. It’s all auto here,
 
not just the petrol pumps, but
what dispenses coffee,
the washing machines, the drier,
the factory’s template exact
 
cut of tabletop after tabletop,
like an assembly line cookie cutter
(they sell good cookies here, too)
where I sit eating my machined pastry.
 
This is a good place to pray.
Where everyone is just doing their best,
Bless them!
Wiping tables, swabbing the deli counter,
 
totting at the till, making change,
nodding, and being pleasant.
But then, this is Leitrim after all,
and people tend to be.
 
So this is a good place to pray,
because praying is not automatic,
with the distant hum of the radio chat
behind the rumble of the chill cabinet.
 
Copyright © 2020 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Why Poetry Writing is a Spiritual Practice

I call this poetry practice. I have likened the daily flexing of the poetry muscle to the etudes Miss Mildred, my childhood piano teacher, gave me. I was a poor piano scholar, but I have doggedly stuck to the daily practice of poetry now for nearly ten months. I know I will keep the posting for the full 365 days. But apart from becoming a more limber wordsmith, the daily poetry practice also has a spiritual element.

I have rarely kept up a meditation practice. I have tried prayer books and pulling a wisdom or oracle card. But I usually fall away from the routine in fairly short order. Being in semi-retirement helps. Having a flexible work routine and a fixed monthly income can accommodate a morning writing practice. But when I worked a normal job I never set the alarm early to make sure that I write something every morning. I did the three month “Artist’s Way” over twenty years ago, but after that initial period the morning pages routine was very off and on. (Mostly I complained about how my sinuses hurt first thing in the morning. Which is kind of boring.) I began this practice with a howl of outrage and in a pit of sorrow over current events. Those circumstances have not stopped happening. And I still keep feeling the feelings. But I have not been cast off-centre while it has been going down. And that, I think, is because of the daily practice of writing a poem – good, bad or indifferant.

Having the self-imposed discipline of posting the Poetry Daily has ensured that I keep at it. But I am beginning to wonder whether I might keep it up anyway because it is now set in my neural pathways. Perhaps after September 15th I can take down that guardrail and just post a weekly poem or compendium of weekly poems.

I am still entranced by quotations. Please indulge me. I am ferreting around to see what are the limitations and strengths of the form. As I am considering the spiritual value of the Poetry Daily as my practice, the Samuel Beckett quotation comes back to me. It is a favourite. Probably I should have a plaque made of it and hang it on a wall!

all poetry is prayer

And so today’s Poetry Daily is

All poetry is...prayer.
Time and trends change its rhythms and riffs.
Say it to a god or to yourself, it anchors.
We can be both defendant and plaintiff
petitioning for some kind of clemency.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
poetry is prayer

Thoughts and Prayers

I respect thoughtfulness. I respect prayer and I practice it often. But I admire most a phrase that I think I encountered in some Quaker literature – Love in Action.  Which simply restates the adage ‘Walk Your Talk’- but with the addendum of walk in love. In a week where there have been a lot of thoughts flying around the interwebs, and most surely a lot of prayer, I have crafted a spell. And since auld Samuel Beckett said “all poems are prayers” this is my weekly poem. Which is also a heartfelt spell working. There have been too many Parklands, Pulses, Sandy Hooks. And may the little children lead us. They certainly are demonstrating a raw fearlessness in the face of tragedy. May they be surrounded with Love as they take action.
Thoughts and Prayers

Enough of thoughts

Enough of prayers

Enough of tears

 

Banish the fear
May Love disarm you

 

Enough of being bought

Enough of anger

Enough conspiracy jeers

Banish the fear
May Love disarm you

 

Enough of siege and SWAT

Enough of all coming to naught

Enough of the primacy of crackpot

Enough of the always all too sure shot

 

Banish the fear
May Love disarm you

 

Enough of cowering in closets

Enough of bandoliered bigots

Enough of ideology driven budgets

Enough of guts and gore as year-round climate

 

Banish your fear
May Love disarm you

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith

Featured image is a painting of Samuel Beckett by Barry Hodgson, owned by the author.