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Archive for the ‘Spiritual Growth’ Category

Join the gathering of Spiritual Journey posts at Karen’s blog.

Today is the beginning. Each day is, I suppose, but today begins National Poetry Month, my favorite month of the year. The KidLit Progressive Poem is off to a wonderful spinning start with Kat Apel.

It’s Maundy Thursday in another strange Holy Week. Thankfully, the 4 person choir at my church is gathering again and singing (masked) from the loft. Maundy Thursday music is my favorite. Feels holier. Foreshadowing death to resurrection. The solemn act of foot washing reminds us of Jesus’ servanthood and love. We are not quite to resurrection from the pandemic yet, but having had my vaccine, I am feeling a sense of relief and new beginnings.

The first three months of this year I read The Artist’s Way and met weekly with a group on Zoom. Our last meeting on Tuesday night felt sacred. We each shared a creative work. Creativity makes us human and vulnerable, but also celebratory and worthy. One of the tasks from the author Julia Cameron was to write an artist’s prayer. I didn’t write one yet. Jone inspired me when she shared hers. She included her past One Little Words into her prayer. My words are reach, open, presence, grace, explore, cherish, embrace, inspire.

Dear Great Creator,


I am here today
to be an instrument of your work
to explore your world with curiosity, to open myself
to your creativity. I trust your hand
will reach for mine,
guide my pen to something new.
May I be present in this day, embrace nature,
follow the contrail of your vision for me.


May I be filled with grace
so to bless others with my offering,
May I nurture the child within,
accept her imperfections and needs,
cherish her with love and devotion.
Help me to know I am not alone.
By your side, I can be inspired
to breathe your spirit
into each day.

Margaret Simon, always in draft
Bridal wreath, photo by Margaret Simon

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
Open Invitation to Write on Sharing Our Stories

 One of the most satisfying things about teaching for me is learning. I learn something new every day, and it still surprises me. On Teach this Poem by Poets.org, I learned about a poetic device: caesura, referring to a pause for a beat in the rhythm of a verse, often indicated by a line break or by punctuation. This literary device was used with effectiveness in a poem by Yesenia Montilla, a brief meditation on breath.

A brief meditation on breath

–they’re saying
this virus takes your breath away, not
like a mother’s love or like a good kiss
from your lover’s soft mouth but like the police
it can kill you fast or slow; dealer’s choice.
a pallbearer carrying your body without a casket.
they say it’s so contagious it could be quite
breathtaking. so persistent it might as well
be breathing                        down your neck—

Copyright © 2020 by Yesenia Montilla. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 21, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

A long held belief of mine is that our bodies will tell us when to pause. I’ve believed this since 1995 when a herniated disc in my spine caused severe pain and subsequent surgery. There was nothing to do but pause and heal. Whenever I moved, pain would send me back. Luckily, I’ve not had any serious trouble since then, but I have learned to listen and pause when my body tells me to. I haven’t quite conquered yet the annoyance and guilt that sets in. We always want answers, so when the answer is “wait”, we twiddle thumbs and pace and complain.

Pause to enjoy the azaleas–
Walking to the parking lot from school, I stopped to notice how two azalea bushes were intertwined.

Following The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I’ve been writing morning pages for a few months. They are scribbled scratches before my coffee, before my mind wakes up. I really wasn’t sure this exercise was working for me. I’ve been resistant and irritated about it. Like when my body hurts, morning pages were a kind of pain in my side. I did them out of obligation, a commitment to a weekly group. But yesterday morning, a poem came out. And today, I wrote about a picture book idea.

So, wait a minute…you’re telling me that writing morning pages every day since January 3rd is finally opening up your creativity? Could it really take that long? Perhaps it won’t for you, but it has for me. And I’m still unsure if I’ll keep up the practice after our last meeting this week. Yet, there is something to be said for taking a pause, taking your pulse before the day begins.

Like caesura Pause. Begin. Be.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
2021 Grab this image for your blog post.

Today is day 4 of the Slice of Life Story Challenge and Spiritual Journey (first) Thursday.

A group of bloggers commit to writing a post on the first Thursday of the month around a topic. I am rounding up the posts today. (Place your link in the InLinkz at the end of this page.) The topic I chose was March Spirit Wind. The lioness of March winds roared through here on Monday bringing a new cold front. March weather is fickle. One day may be sunny and 70’s and the next rainy and 40’s. In this topsy turvy weather, I long to find quiet time.

Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself
and know that everything in this life has a purpose.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Lately I have been using magazine collage to explore creativity. I am finding that it leads to inspiration for writing. The process of design, finding images I love, cutting, placing, gluing bring my mind to a place of rest where creativity can flow.

Silence Collage in Notebook 3/3/21

Linda Mitchell sent me some poem seeds that I carry with me in a ziplock bag along with pens, scissors, glue. I tossed out some seeds and this poem fell out.

Craft of Life, seed poem, notebook page 3/3/21

Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence.

Rachel Naomi Remen, gratefulness.org

I hope you can take some time to be quiet and let the Spirit Wind wash over you. Sacred moments can be found when we take time to rest and be open.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!Click here to enter

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Spiritual Journey First Thursday is being gathered today by Fran Haley.

Take Heart is Fran’s choice for our Spiritual Thursday posts. In my Mississippi childhood, Dear Heart was a common feminine expression, similar to cher in the Cajun culture I now live in. Dear heart is an expression of endearment that could have a connotation of condescension.

But Take Heart is not at all condescending. In a sense, its meaning is quite the opposite. To Take Heart is a way to overcome the troubles of the world.


“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” — John 16:33

Take Heart means to live a life that understands there is trouble, there is hardship, there is pain, but there is a greater spirit that overcomes and offers hope. As I read Out of the Dust with a student this week, he identified the theme, “There is always hope.” A pandemic is a kind of Dust Bowl for our time. We have little control over who the virus will target next. Our handkerchiefs are our masks. We stay distanced to avoid the dust. Yet, there is hope. There is always hope.

I started thinking about ways I overcome and find peace in my own life and wrote a “Things to do” poem.

Things to Do to Take Heart

Notice the singing of morning birds.
Begin each day in prayerful meditation.
Read poetry. Write poetry.
Write a letter to a girl in prison.
Fold an origami heart.
Sing a lullaby to a new baby.
Take a child to the park. Swing with him on your lap.
Kiss the screen on Facetime.
Laugh with your partner.
Go to sleep to the owl’s call.

Margaret Simon, 2021
My students and I are making origami heart messages for V-Day.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice

Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb Inaugural Poem

These words from Amanda Gorman hit a nerve. As a white woman raised in the south in the 60’s and 70’s, Just Is was a part of the thread that wove the fabric of racism in our time. Echoes of that’s just the way it is rang through the school hallways I walked, the places we shopped, the neighborhood streets we rode. The only dark faces I saw were our maids and their children. 

Desegregation didn’t happen until I was in the 4th grade, 1971. I remember having no school for two weeks while the scramble to mix it up began. That was fun for us kids. When we returned to school, there were new faces, new teachers. My favorite was Miss Love. She was a large black woman with a great bosom for hugging you close. She gave us one of my favorite assignments, a state project. I chose Maine because the capital city is Augustus, my birthday month (of course!). I have never gone to Maine but have a special place for it in my heart because of Miss Love.

Change is easy for kids. Children don’t really know racism. I didn’t when I was ten. But now, in retrospect, I see more clearly how “just is” was not “justice.” I cannot change the past. None of us can. But we can do better when we know better, another famous quote from an African American hero– Maya Angelou.

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Spiritual Thursday posts are being gathered today by Carol at Beyond Literacy Link.

It is my practice each year to select a word to guide my year. This week my students and I have been talking about and selecting a One Little Word. Last year I selected Embrace. The word Inspire has been tugging at me for a few years. I finally stopped resisting it.

If you follow my blog, you know that I am posting a photo each week as a writing prompt. Last week I posted a photo from Ann Sutton, a Methodist minister. Fran Haley took this prompt and wrote an amazing spiritual poem on her blog. I drew Ann’s attention to Fran’s poem on Facebook Messenger. Ann shared the post and asked Fran’s permission to read the poem in her sermon. Wow! Inspiring writing that inspires a beautiful connection beyond my reach.

I’ve started an accountability group for The Artist’s Way. Perhaps you remember the book. Julia Cameron leads you on a journey back to your essence of creativity through writing exercises and artist dates. Morning pages is a component that I am trying. Trying is the operative word here. My hope is that by releasing the tied up knots of stuff through regurgitation on the blank page, I will inspire more creativity in myself. I do believe that creativity is a spiritual practice. It’s not reserved for a select few; however, like the Holy Spirit, creativity is available to all of us, even me.

This first week of 2021 has been filled with shocking events. Along with everyone else, I am mournful. But I am also hopeful. Our country witnessed rock bottom yesterday. Let’s make today the beginning of our collective climb up and out. We can inspire hope and love. Join me in a resolution to Inspire, breathe new life into the world.

Image created in Canva

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I took last week off of blogging to be with family for Christmas, but Christmas hasn’t let go of me yet. This slower week I’ve enjoyed looking at the tree, crocheting on the sofa, and watching Christmas movies on Netflix. I think the slow down was good for me, but I worry that the routine of writing will leave and never come back. So, I am committing to this weekly prompt for me and for you.

Ann Sutton is one of those friends who feeds my spiritual life. She is a Methodist minister, watercolor artist, and has a beautiful mezzo-soprano voice. (We met in a community choir years ago.) Christmas worship looked different this year. In her wisdom, Ann didn’t forego the candle lighting on Christmas Eve. She reinvented it. With a variety of candles in buckets of sand, families lit their own candle as they entered her church.

Christmas Eve, by Ann Sutton

What we carry
is heavy; lighten it
with match to flame
then blow.

Margaret Simon, draft

Write your own small poem in the comments. Read and encourage other writers by responding.

Happy New Year! May the peace that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds on the love of Christ.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Carol Wilcox at Carol’s Corner.

It’s not every day that I am commissioned to write a poem. Well, actually, it’s never happened. The secretary at our school has a grand nephew, her godchild, going off to the Navy this month. She asked me to write a poem for him.

I really wasn’t sure how to get started. I don’t know this boy, but I do know his family cares deeply for him. I was inspired by Jane Hirshfield’s poem For What Binds Us.

And see how the flesh grows back
across a wound, with a great vehemence,
more strong
than the simple, untested surface before.

Jane Hirshfield, from For What Binds Us

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Ruth is gathering Spiritual Thursday posts at her blog.

“If the only prayer you say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough!” ~Meister Eckhart

What is it about November that brings out the gratitude in us? Is it the holiday of Thanksgiving? Is it the cool fall air? Is it getting close to Christmas? Or is it the number 11? Today Ruth is gathering Spiritual Journey posts about gratitude.

Thank you
releases air,
a breath.
In American sign language,
a hand to mouth and out again.
From inside of me
to the spirit of you,
I thank you.

TeachWrite is encouraging #gratiku poetry on social media. Read more about it at Leigh Anne’s blog.

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When we write poems to a photo, we enter a process of collaboration. A meeting between the photographer and the poet, the image and the words. In collaboration, one can have a conversation, an inquiry, or a conviction. Do your beliefs about the world come through in your poems? Are you communicating or responding? Are you participating or letting the muse take control?

I invite you to reflect on your process today as you write. Leave a small poem in the comments as well as a reflection of your thoughts. 

photograph by Molly Hogan

Perspective

The tracks rise to a point
on the horizon
disappearing into a mist.

We know
beyond the page,
the path goes on
and on.

Margaret Simon, draft

My reflection: Perspective is something an artist has to learn. If you draw two parallel lines, they must converge to give the impression of a continuing road. Our horizon line is not a finite place. The earth is round. When I think about this in a spiritual, metaphorical sense, I think of our own path through life. There is a mirage of an end, but there is always another turn to make.

Note to my readers: We are in the path of Hurricane Delta. School has been cancelled for today and tomorrow. We are preparing. We have a strong house (and a friendly generator named Sparky). I appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

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