Poetry always goes to the “heart of the matter.” So once a month this blog presents a poem for you to play with. This year we are doing what German theologian Dorothee Soelle called “theopoetry”—doing theology by communicating with God through images that spring from our everyday experiences. Once a month I present a starter poem from the Japanese monk poet Ryokan and my response to it. Then it’s your turn. I invite you to join the conversation.
In my youth I put aside my studies
And I aspired to be a saint.
Living austerely as a mendicant monk,
I wandered here and there for many springs.
Finally I returned home to settle under a craggy peak.
I live peacefully in a grass hut,
Listening to the birds for music.
Clouds are my best neighbors.
Below, a pure spring where I refresh body and mind;
Above, towering pines and oaks that provide shade and brushwood.
Free, so free, day after day—
I never want to leave!
In my youth I put aside my talents
And aspired to be a saint.
I fasted on bread and water,
Prayed long hours into night,
Gave loaves of bread to the poor,
Was dragged to jail trying to stop war.
Finally, I found a single room in the inner city.
Outside my window
Police sirens, screams…footsteps in the night.
Three in the morning, children roaming the street.
I fold my hands and bow.
I pick up a pen and write.
All is well. All is well.
In my youth….