Here’s a poem prompt from Madeleine L’Engle for this Saturday of Holy Week.
by Madeleine L’Engle
well, actually you didn’t promise very much, did you?
but that little is enough
is more than enough.
We fail you
over and over again
but you promised to be faithful to us
not to let us fail
beyond your forgiveness of our failure.
In our common temptation
we would not be tempted more than we are able
you promised not to lead us into temptation
beyond our frail strength
are our refuge in temptation
our escape from the pit
and that is enough
so that we can bear
more than we thought we could bear
of loneliness, nothingness, otherness
sin, silliness, sadness.
for thine is the kingdom and the other great fors:
this is what you promised
it is enough
it is everything.
~L’Engle, Madeleine.“The Promise”, from The Ordering of Love: The New and Collected Poems of Madeleine L’Engle. Shaw Books, 2005.
What are you bearing today?
Which of the “great fors” is enough for you today?
Yesterday I made a list of items in my refrigerator. We have an abundance of hummus right now. And we have 7 clementines. I adore clementines. I’m not big on oranges or grapefruits, but I could write poetry about clementines. So I did. Here’s my haiku about the clementines in my fridge:
my orange bursts of sunshine
all seven are mine
Try writing a haiku about something. Maybe something in your fridge.
The basic structure is 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. Here’s more about haiku if you want to dig deeper: How to Write Haiku
When I start workshops, I usually tell those gathered that writing is good for our health. Giving voice to the swirling thoughts in our heads can lower our blood pressure. It boosts t-cell production and strengthens our immunity. Those wellness benefits often seem like bonus points. But not now. Physical health is not a given during a pandemic. As the days isolating at home (or working overtime for some heroes) start to stretch out, the need to take care of our individual and collective mental health becomes even greater.
I’m not doing well with my writing habits right now. News, social media, and converting work to online everything – all seem more pressing. I can feel my anxiety rising. Maybe you can too. That’s why I’m dusting off this website and wanna-be writing business I began with some baby steps two years ago. I’m going to start sending out writing prompts so we can write alone or in company with one another. It’s mostly for myself. But I’d love to have you join me.
Here’s a prompt to start from Mary Oliver:
from “In Blackwater Woods”
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
“Picking up a pen can be a powerful intervention against loneliness. I am a strong believer in writing as a way for people who are feeling lonely and isolated to define, shape, and exchange their personal stories. Expressive writing, especially when shared, helps foster social connections. It can reduce the burden of loneliness among the many groups who are most at risk, including older adults, caregivers, those with major illnesses, those with disabilities, veterans, young adults, minority communities of all sorts, and immigrants and refugees.”
“Whether your purpose for writing is artistic expression, communication with friends and family, the healing of the inner life, or achieving public recognition for your art — the foundation is the same: the claiming of yourself as an artist/writer and the strengthening of your writing voice through practice, study, and helpful response from other writers.”
~Pat Schneider, Founder of Amherst Writers & Artists
Pat’s masterpiece, Writing Alone & With Others, published by Oxford University Press, is full.
Full of writing advice. Full of stories about how writing can change lives. Full of inspiration to write to change your own life. Full of prompts to get your writing going with creativity and new energy.
Pick up a copy here. Then look for a group to write with in company, so you can develop your art to its fullest.