In exploring feral spirituality my intuition is a trusty guide. It led me to ask for a Christmas gift of Louise Gluck’s Poems 1962-2020, which I duly received....
People who write poetry often seem to have something of the feral about them, perhaps as they feel beholden to no-one but their muse. I’ve begun dipping into her book and my intuition has led me to gold again. Louise Gluck loves gardening and one of her collections is inspired by her garden. There are two poems in it that immediately stood out for me. In each the voice is that of a plant in her garden, it speaks to a human listener, the poet, offering its wisdom, and the poet, by implication, is thankful.
That rang a loud bell for me. As a feral priest I’m exploring what a priesthood to all of creation might look like: for me that means the landscape, the vegetation, the animal life and so on, as well as the humans. My assumption is that God can speak to me through all of creation, and that all of creation seeks my blessing in return. It’s proving a rich experience, and one full of gifts. Its a challenge to ask myself what God might be saying to me through this landscape, this building, this tree, this plant, this animal. The answer is usually not obvious and often difficult to discern but I’m relishing working on it, and its changing my response to the environment around me. So I’m delighted and affirmed by reading the poems of a woman who listens to and is nourished by the plants in her garden, and who is bold enough to share what she learns. Thank you Louise Gluck and God bless you. Here are the two poems:
The Wild Iris
At the end of my suffering
there was a door.
Hear me out: that which you call death
Overhead, noises, branches of the pine shifting.
Then nothing. The weak sun
flickered over the dry surface.
It is terrible to survive
buried in the dark earth.
Then it was over: that which you fear, being
a soul and unable
to speak, ending abruptly, the stiff earth
bending a little. And what I took to be
birds darting in low shrubs.
You who do not remember
passage from the other world
I tell you I could speak again: whatever
returns from oblivion returns
to find a voice:
from the center of my life came
a great fountain, deep blue
shadows on azure seawater.
Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.
I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn't expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light of
earliest spring --
afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy
in the raw wind of the new world.
I had just finished writing this when I received an email from my friend Keith, sharing this link with me. The synchronicity made me chuckle. Henry
Comments about the site
Just wanting to say “yes” to this. You will be speaking for, and to, many. I will certainly be passing this on to others, and will contribute some thoughts myself later.
So, I was delighted to see Feral Spirituality make an appearance. I'd think you could find many wanting to join in