Tips for the Wayward Meditator | Sojourners

Tips for the Wayward Meditator

You don’t even have to be good at it.
Many paint colors are swirled together.
Illustration by Jon Han

OFTEN, WITH MEDITATION, I’m reminded of many people’s reaction to poetry. “I don’t get it,” they say, a little embarrassed to be admitting this to a writer and a former English teacher.

The first thing I think is: You must have had a really lousy teacher who taught you that poetry is something you “get”—a message you extract for a good grade. Poetry-phobes might feel a bit more relaxed when I tell them that’s not how poetry works. Often, with my favorite poems, I never fully get them. All I know is that reading and rereading them, the mystery stirs inside me again. In her lovely poem “Self-Portrait with Religion and Poetry,” Kate Daniels describes what happens to her when she deeply connects with a work of art:

... I lie down in the silence
of my mind and touch the world all over.
Clouds fly through me. Trees break the sky
above a frozen lake, and a footprint
startles its crust of snow.

Then I can type another page, or nurse
my hungry infant. I can take from the cupboard
the bread and the wine, the eggplant and garlic
my hands will transform into sustenance.

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