January 11, 2018. It’s been a little over five years since I slipped my left wrist into the silicone band bearing the wisdom Celebrate What’s Right With The World – motto of Dewitt Jones, photographer and philosopher. I’d just spent a week “on Molokai time” recalibrating with Dewitt and others. I wondered how long the band might last. At least five years: the one I am retiring to my altar shows no wear until placed on top of a new one. Then I can see it has thinned, which explains sometimes slipping off.
2012 held a pair of life-changing encounters. A week with Mr. Poetic Medicine, John Fox, in Canyon De Chelly broke me open. Mother Nature delivered a Vision Quest where I’d anticipated just poetry and nature appreciation. I came home wobbly, at best. Within days, notice of a Dewitt Jones workshop on Molokai slid into view, and I signed up on the spot. I was a fan of Dewitt’s philosophy from videos in wisdom classes. With crossed fingers, I began another adventure. Getting to Molokai felt a lot like another Vision Quest, but the Island way and the people (once there!) were what I needed. I will never forget returning, standing outside the Austin airport waiting to be picked up, unable to contain my smiles, eager to say THANK YOU! to the one picking me up (the one who put up with me after Canyon de Chelly!)
April 14, 2016. In a recent workshop with John Fox (Mr. Poetic Medicine) and Mirabai Starr (Mystic), we practiced the poetic therapy of reading a poem several times and then writing a personal response – a new poem perhaps tied to the one read, and perhaps off on some diverse tangent. In other settings, I am practiced in reading poetry ala Lectio Divina – three times (for phrases that resonate; then for feelings engendered; finally for meaning to the listener). Mirabai shared her father’s emphasis on reading poems three times which struck me as a beautiful description of Lectio: First reading, you are knocking on the poem’s door. Second reading, you open that door. Third reading, you enter the room of the poem.
A few days after that workshop, I sat with a friend and David Wagoner’s poem “Getting There”. We read it to one another – knocking, opening, entering – and then wrote. This poem emerged, stemming from Wagoner’s reference to cheek against sandstone – which took me back to Lake Powell on the Arizona/Utah border. Tall red sandstone cliffs rise from bright blue water under blue skies. Tour boats take you past row upon row of what look like ancient women in robes, shoulder-to-shoulder. I’ve been there twice, and both times had the sense of being called to by cliff voices. This image is from 2007.
You can read David Wagoner’s poem “Getting There” here: www.ayearofbeinghere.com/2014/08/david-wagoner-getting-there.html
Go here for more on poetry therapy: http://www.poeticmedicine.com/
Go here for more on Mirabai Starr’s many contributions: http://mirabaistarr.com/