This poem arose from a lesson in The Spiral Path, an online course offered by Heather Plett, whose work on Holding Space offers a beautiful, necessary way forward in difficult times. ( www.heatherplett.com )
We were invited to journal about the old stories that have been ruling our lives and that we’d like to release. We cut those journal pages into sentence strips and then into individual words that we rearranged into a poem.
No extra words were added to smooth out the message. Only some punctuation and capitalization (although it feels important to note that the word ‘Life,’ appearing twice in the poem, was already capitalized both times I pulled it from the composting word heap and the colon was already in place in the line ‘Your mentors are:’).
I was blown away by what arose from that pile of words once it was freed from the tyranny of those familiar, out-of-date stories. I received a clear message for my own way forward that I decided to share here because . . . well . . . just because. I believe (or maybe I just hope) this poem might speak to others looking for a way forward. If not, I invite you to try this alchemical process for yourself and mine your own gold.
So be yourself.
A different, invisible power,
A different cause,
believing the world can grow.
I’m talking trouble.
A good trouble.
Translates stories into Life,
and Life into needed stories.
Nature wields a helping message.
Why keep order?
It is no fun.
Have you served someone the observations that upset?
Agreeing with small thoughts is never safe.
Don’t interrupt the growing boat
carrying the true teachers,
responsible for another story.
Your mentors are:
Mighty ones, full of needed life.
Here's the artist's response to A Way Forward. It brought tears to my eyes the first time I saw it. Still does. The clear-eyed blend of innocence and wisdom radiating from this child speaks to my heart. And to the heart of my poem.
Joy entitled her drawing "Our Voices Will Be Heard."
Here is the pencil drawing the artist brought to our initial gathering.
It's title is "Chapter One."
And here is my written response to this image. It was such a challenge to stay within the 400 word limit! I ended up asking Jillie (from A Measure of Joy in the first WriteArt collection) to join me and we wrote a little play.
Our last gathering to share our creations proved quite emotional! I cried when I saw Joy's artistic response to my poem and when I started off reading my response to her work by singing Baa Baa Black Sheep, she burst out laughing! There's nothing like making (and sharing) our art to enliven our lives.
Baa Baa Black Sheep,
Have you any wool?
JILLIE: Nana, what are they doing to the sheep?
NANA: They’re shaving off their coats, Jilliebean.
JILLIE: The sheep don’t sound very happy about it.
NANA: No, but they’ll feel so much better once those heavy, winter coats are gone.
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full.
JILLIE: Nana, why are they putting the hair in those bags?
NANA: It’s called fleece, Jillie. We’ll send it away to be washed and combed and spun into yarn that we can knit into new mittens for you to wear next winter.
JILLIE: And a toque, too?
NANA: Yes, Jillebean, and a toque, too.
JILLIE: And a—
NANA: (Holds up her hand, stopping Jillie mid-sentence.) And a nice, long scarf.
(Jillie claps her hands and runs to peer into the overflowing bags.)
One for my master,
One for my dame.
JILLIE: Nana, how do those sticks turn the yarn into mittens?
NANA: It’s a special kind of magic, Jilliebean. Would you like me to show you how?
JILLIE: (incredulous) You mean I could turn yarn into mittens?
NANA: How about if we start with a blanket for Thumbelina?
JILLIE: (Claps her hands and runs out of the room. She returns clutching a tiny doll.) And then I can make some mittens for Mama!
NANA: Or maybe a scarf? We’ll dye it a pretty color.
JILLIE: (Nods, beaming.) It will keep her warm when she has to scrape the snow off the car in wintertime. (Frowns.) Nana, how come Baby Baa Baa doesn’t have a big, heavy coat?
NANA: She doesn’t need it right now, Jillie. It’s spring. Her fleece will grow as she grows and by the time winter comes again she’ll have a thick, wooly coat to keep her warm.
JILLIE: (Looks doubtful.) But there’s still snow out there! Baa Baa will be cold! (Stares out the window and then whirls around and claps her hands.) I know! (Runs out of the room.)
(Nana bends over her knitting.)
(Jillie runs back into the room, clutching something. She thrusts her hand into Nana’s lap. Nana stares into her lap and then up at her granddaughter’s shorn head.)
NANA: Jillie! What have you done?
JILLIE: We can use my fleece to make a nice, warm scarf for Baa Baa.
And one for the little lamb
Who lives down the lane.