I've probably mentioned this before, but the one thing I remember about reading The Celestine Prophecy all those years ago, in one of the reading groups we started to build community in our start-up Episcopal Church, was that there's no such thing as coincidence.
So when I began going on retreats with Cynthia Bourgeault and Lynn Bauman, and met a man named Max, and he turned out to have gone to school with my daughter's godfather -- who was the priest of that little start-up Episcopal Church -- I never thought it was just a coincidence. I thought it was simply wonderful; a way to connect my past faith with my present.
And so, years later, when I go to our contemplative worship services (which only happen every three months) I look forward to seeing Max, who comes up from Olympia for the occasions. We always have extraordinary discussions; it's as if we are -- and were -- friends on some other plane, apart from time and space.
The retreat that really cemented our friendship happened back in 2007; it was a week long Wisdom retreat with Lynn Bauman, in which we studied Daniel Ladinsky's amazing compilation, Love Poems from God. At the time of that retreat, I hadn't written a poem in years, and by the end of the retreat poems were just pouring out of me -- that's at least partly what triggered my determination to begin the poetry blog.
So now here I am, several years later, and my poems have hit the sort of plateau Atul Gawande describes in his recent New Yorker article, "Personal Best:" "For the past couple of years, my performance in the operating room has reached a plateau. I'd like to think it's a good thing -- I've arrived at my professional peak. But mainly it seems as if I've just stopped getting better...it started to seem that the only direction things could go from here was the wrong one."
In his article, Gawande concludes that it could be an opportunity for coaching , and I had come to the same conclusion (another coincidence?), so I was thinking of applying to a program. But of course, to get a chance to improve my poetry I would have to submit my poetry. And I've been so discouraged about my work lately that the thought of culling through it for any gems among the muck was daunting, to say the least.
So yesterday I began seriously considering just bagging the idea.
And wouldn't you know it, there's an email from Max in my inbox this morning.
"Dear Diane, Do you remember way, way back, when we went to the Wisdom School based on Daniel Ladinski's book, Love Poems to God, there was a point, toward the end of the session, when we were all encouraged to try our hand.
Do you remember -- can you pull up -- the poem you wrote and read to us on that occasion? If you can find it, and if you have time, could you send it (email or regular mail) to me? Reason I'm asking is a couple of us are re-looking at the "Love Poems ..." book, and are getting re-inspired, and I wanted to show your poem (with full credit to you, of course) as an example."
Okay. I get it. However painful it may be, I should still apply to this program. Who knows, I might get in, and it might give my poetry just the boost it needs. I won't know unless I try.
So thanks, Max. Good timing -- again!
(PS: I sent him 8 poems I'd written that week, not quite knowing which one he was thinking of. But it might be the one I've posted on today's blog -- you'll see it here, off to the right.)