Most people have a belief system. This may seem like a broad and naïve statement that most people are religious. It’s not. What I am talking about is my own understanding of individuals that I have formed over many, many years. I believe that most of us have a way of seeing life and that we behave in ways related to our personal beliefs about the nature of life. I think that when we are young, if we have been raised in a particular faith, we may go through a process of growth and change and challenge to these beliefs. Or we may not. Each person makes their own spiritual journey. Such growth and change can occur throughout our lives. For many, belief is not static. We may journey completely beyond our beginnings and find a more meaningful place for ourselves. We can return to the foundation of our original belief system, but as different people whose lives rest on that foundation, but whose lives include broader understandings.
In our writing, we as writers reveal something of who we are and what we believe in our work, sometimes overtly and purposefully. But often not. Writing is such an intimate process, it springs from what is within us. Some writers set out to write about faith, belief, in terms of one particular religion. There has always been a rich poetic tradition in the world’s formal religions, and that continues today. Beautiful and transcendent. It is a very special genre, requiring a very special kind of talent. I love reading much of it, religious poetry of many faiths, not just my own. But the work of many of us writers is reflective of faith of some kind, revelations made by writers are subtle. More subtle, but no less meaningful. No less beautiful. Writing about nature often has a spiritual element. If we have a personal faith, no matter what it is, we are therefore persons of faith and therefore writers of faith. This does not mean that we are writers about faith.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve become very aware that some aspects of my personal spiritual life have led my evolution as a writer. Many of us, as we develop as writers, begin to recognize where we seem most centered, what themes draw us, what genres compel us. Poetry is where I most find my own voice. Over the years, I’ve been able to see patterns in my poetry, the primary subjects and themes. I’ve realized that basically my writing focuses on an interweaving of personal experience in relationships with others, my relationship with nature, and with my spiritual life. Much of my writing about nature is inseparable from my relationship with the spiritual.
Here, we are a community of writers, and we share ourselves with one another. We share our own writing pieces a lot. It’s important, I think, and really rewarding. But sometimes, we share our feelings about our actual writing, what we see in it, what it means to us to be able to grow and find new ways of talking on paper. Talking to ourselves, talking to others…talking on paper and often finding revelation. About how we feel about life, about what’s important to us. One of the things I really love about being older is the opportunity to go back, to reread my work, and to see where I’ve come from, where I’ve gone, and where I seem to be going, in my work and as it reflects my life. In looking back on my writing, I can look back on much of my life. I wonder about those of you who are reading this. I wonder who you are, where you are on your writer’s journey. Like life, writing can be a struggle sometimes. But it can bring such joy.
Two of the poems I’ve been drawn to during recent reflections do have a spiritual context. One is titled Lake Vespers. The other is titled As A Child.