G. C. Waldrep, American poet and historian, was asked what connection he sees between poetry and prayer. “Sometimes I speculate the two are like adjacent apartments in the same building,” he said. “When you’re in one, you have no direct access to the other, but if you listen closely you can hear sound – sometimes muffled, sometimes sharp – coming from the other side of the connecting wall. I feel that way about prayer when I am reading or writing poetry and about poetry when I am praying” (from Prayer and Poetry in Huffington Post. Read the entire article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katherine-towler/prayer-and-poetry_b_1387832.html)
Waldrep speaks, I think, of making the connection with that realm beyond the tangible that occasionally beckons us out of our ordinary lives. (More likely, it constantly beckons us but we only occasionally hear it above the din of the commonness to which we have become accustomed.)
Jesus called it “the Kingdom of God.” “The kingdom of God has come near,” he said as he began his earthly ministry. “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).
“The Kingdom of God is here,” he said, as he held a little child (Mark 10:14).
“Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’” he said to his disciples as he sent them out (Luke 10:9).
And don’t you hear it sometimes? Don’t you sense it?
G. C. Waldrep’s connection point is poetry. For us it might be a phrase in a well-known scripture that we hear with new ears, or that word in the Sunday sermon that we take all the way to the parking lot before forgetting it. It might be the incredible beauty of that Blue Jay in the backyard stopping by for a drink from the fountain.
There is a tug on our sensitivities — a still, small voice that says, “Stop here; investigate this; pay attention; enjoy. There is something more here, something especially for you.” A brush of angels’ wings, says the song; a muffled sound on the other side of the wall.
Listen to that, said Christ. Pay attention. Get out your reciprocating saw and cut a hole through the wall. It is a treasure hidden in a field, a pearl of great price, a lost coin found (see Matt 13:44-45, Luke 15:8).
But we will only hear it, see it, sense it if we stop long enough to listen, look, feel. The neighbors are there on the other side of the wall. Go ahead; invite them in.
Marjorie George is editor of Reflections magazine and ReflectionsOnline. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.