Last weekend I soaked up the cool, crisp atmosphere of autumn in the Pacific Northwest.
The warmth of sunshine compensated for the chill in the air.
Grand trees displayed their fall finery of vermillion, pumpkin orange, and gold.
Birds sang cheery farewells, assuring us they’d be back in the spring.
A chipmunk even scampered close to where I stood, paused for a moment, then leap-hopped to a nearby tree.
And ten other women who love to write, draw, and/or create in other ways gathered at the Grunewald Guild in Plain, Washington, to learn, be inspired and encouraged.
Our very capable facilitators, Jody Lee Collins* and Kimberlee Conway Ireton* pushed our thinking and stretched our creativity. One activity: poetry-writing.
Yes, it was a bit intimidating at first. The likes of John Milton, Charles Wesley, and Christina Rossetti always leave me awestruck by their prowess and power with words.
But Kimberlee challenged us to give it a try, jump-starting us with samples, a quick lesson on alliteration (words within a line that begin with the same sound), and a framework to build upon.
We all began our poems with “Glory to God for…” and ended with “Praise him,” based on “Pied Beauty” by another stellar poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins.
For the lines in between, Kimberlee spread out on two tables hundreds of words, printed on slips of paper, suggesting we search for those that shimmer with possibilities, and build a poem from the ideas that bubble up. We were given twenty to thirty minutes.
I found several pairs that sparked ideas: garb and garden, mystery and memory, shift and sheen.
But several false starts soon left me discouraged.
Oh-oh. I’m going to be poem-less! I thought. How embarrassing. Lord, help me find SOMETHING!
He did. Wisdom and woods caught my attention, and I began to write:
Glory be to God for
The wisdom of the woods –
Through drought and storm,
Demonstrating ongoing praise
With outstretched limbs,
Growing steadily year by year –
Roots deep, leaves green,
Fruit in abundance.
He enables, provides, attends.
It’s not Milton, that’s for sure. But I personally love the visual connection between the words that shimmered on the table, wisdom and woods, and the scenic wooded property of the Grunewald Guild – two delightful memories of the weekend entwined by imagery.
Oh. And one more aspect of the weekend is woven into the lines — the theme for the weekend: Abide (John 15:1-11).
*Do visit Jody’s and Kimberlee’s blogs; you’ll be glad you did. Meet Jody at Three Way Light (http://threewaylight.blogspot.com) and Kimberlee at Kimberlee Conway Ireton (http://www.kimberleeconwayireton.net/).
(Photo credit: Nancy Ruegg)