Day 1: All Is Well by Arthur Hugh Clough
I thought long (off and on for a day) and hard (tossed around several options) about how to mark Lent this year. Even though I do not currently participate in formal Catholocism, Lent it still important to me. It “lends” structure and background to the year and to time itself, which without our rituals and ceremonies and deadlines can become limp and aimless. Of course the best thing is being in the moment, appreciating the beauty that comes our way, and doing whatever it is we feel like doing. But these moments of freedom become more valuable and meaningful when they happen in the context of some structure. I admit don’t like a lot of structure, but I do like Lent, a period in which His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It’s the magic period of 40 days, not too long but long enough to do something transformational. Of course any of us can choose any 40 days of the year to make some commitment to God or to ourselves. But Lent is already hanging there in space and time, a hefty chuck of the calendar juicy with history and tradition, a blank check that renews every year, ready to spend however we choose.
There is nothing I really need or want to give up, so any resolutions must be on the positive “doing something” side of the equation. I have made a private resolution or two between myself and God, and also this public resolution: to share a poem a day and probably to write a few lines of reflection about it. “And how is this a spiritual discipline?” you may ask. Well if I were to stick strictly to the rich poetry of the Bible – the Psalms, the book of Job, etc. the answer to that question would be apparent. The way I see it, if Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life as he clearly claims to be, then all poetry that captures even a wisp of truth or life or direction must relate to Him in some way. I need to re-connect with poetry and through it, if my theory is correct, I will connect with God in new and unexpected ways. This blog gives me a place to do it and also to share with those who are interested.
I am calling this series 40 Days of Poetry but since I am starting on the second day of Lent perhaps I will need to go a day over schedule all the way to Easter Monday. Hope I can keep this up. I could do the whole 40 days with just Emily Dickinson poems, but I want to use this as an opportunity to explore other poets. To get started I went to PoemHunter.com and checked out their poet of the day who turned out to be Arthur Hugh Clough, a poet I was not familiar with who lived 1 January 1819 – 13 November 1861 and was from Liverpool, England and worked as an assistant to Florence Nightingale. Out of his peoms I found this gem which seems appropriate for beginning a daring new 40-day journey through the wilds of poetry…..
All Is Well
Whate’er you dream, with doubt possessed,
Keep, keep it snug within your breast,
And lay you down and take your rest;
And when you wake, to work again,
The wind it blows, the vessel goes,
And where and whither, no one knows.
‘Twill all be well: no need of care;
Though how it will, and when, and where,
We cannot see, and can’t declare.
In spite of dreams, in spite of thought,
‘Tis not in vain, and not for nought,
The wind it blows, the ship it goes,
Though where and whither, no one knows.