A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posed the question, “Is poetry a spiritual practice?” I thought about this for a while, not because I wasn’t sure if writing was a spiritual practice, but because I couldn’t quite articulate why I believed it was. Even though the question was posed via facebook status, I spent quite some time crafting an e-mail response…because I can’t say anything concisely. And this is what I came up with:
Poetry is a way for me to connect with people and nature, everything around me, which are all ways to connect with God. I’m reminded of somethingone of my favorite authors, Don Miller, said: “We connect with God when we ask Him to defeat in us all the ways in which He cannot connect, all the untruth and games and manipulation and we come to Him finally saying, ‘Okay, I get it, you really are good, defeat in me the lack of faith, let your goodness rid me of the stuff that doesn’t connect with you or the world around me.'”
Poetry is a unique form of prayer. It is a practice that allows me to cut through all of my cluttered thoughts and feelings so that I can get to what matters, what I need to hear and what I need to share with others. It is my way of getting on my knees and crying out, it is my way of talking with God, it is my way of asking forgiveness, it is my way of asking for fire.
I’m also reminded of something the poet Matthew Dickman said in an interview. He was asked about what sparked him to write a poem. He told about how he’s usually moved to write while musing about something he enjoys. Matthew went on to say: “I suppose it’s the “like” that moves me to begin writing a poem—some sort of celebration in my chest wanting some words to understand itself, some sort of grief needing a body.” There are these urges, these pushes to write that must be followed and, in the process, feel sacred. There is so much that goes on in one life, sometimes these occurrences beg to be written down.
Thoughts? Is writing a spiritual practice? Can it even be considered a spiritual discipline?