Growing in Faith
A Holy Union Reflection for January 2020
Our January reflection comes to us from Sr. Rita Theresa Goulet, SUSC, a Holy Union Sister. Many thanks to Sr. Rita Theresa.
A new year beckons us to possibilities, opportunities and challenges. It is a time to put aside what troubled us in the past and start anew. It is a time for new hope and a fresh outlook. It is a time to recognize the miracles that unfold within it; to experience God’s hand in all that happens and to catch a glimpse of God in one another’s eyes.
I would invite you to reflect on your way of praying. Some time ago, I was searching for a way in which I might be able to pray differently and more fervently. My prayer life had become humdrum and not very life-giving. Then I came upon the book, The Experiences of Praying by Sean Caulfield. At the end of each chapter, the author would suggest something that could be done to enhance one’s prayer life. The one that caught my attention was to try to write haiku poetry as a way of praying. So I began to see if this approach might help me in some way. At first I felt awkward at it but then after a few tries began to recognize many opportunities for praying in this way. It has truly been a gift to me as I continue to use poetry as prayer whenever I feel inspired to do so.
Frederick Bruechner describes the haiku as a way of putting a frame around an experience. Macrina Wiederkehr, the author of Gold in your Memories, suggest that we use our memories, joyful and painful, as the context of writing a reflective, prayerful haiku poem. When we do this, we put a frame around an experience.
And so this month, I invite you to try a new way of praying. Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry which doesn’t rhyme. It is a three-line poem with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5. Ideally it should be a response of your spirit to something observed in nature with a reference to one of the seasons. However, like Macrina, I have broken a few rules when writing a haiku. Mine, like hers, haven’t always involved nature or one of the seasons. The important thing to remember is to be faithful to your inner vision and experience. When you write a haiku, you are painting a picture with only a few words.
Here are a few haiku poems that I have written:
Freezing rain descends,
clothing the earth in crystal,
holding it captive.
Birthday cards bless me,
Nourishment for the journey,
call for REAL PRESENCE.
Find a comfortable place where you will not be disturbed. Spend some quiet time either looking at something in nature that evokes some inner stirring or look into your life and allow some memory to surface. Take that particular experience in your past life (joyful or painful) and focus on it. And then try to frame that experience by writing a haiku poem about it. Bring the insight into God’s presence, thank God for the gift, enter the silence and surrender.