Unprepared for Joy

Creativity is a fool’s journey in the best sense. Wandering, trusting, falling into muddy ditches and lying down in sweet meadows. Then another peak, another view of the great beyond, before heading once more into the dark night, and then out the other side; a cycle of birth, death, and resurrection, a microcosm of the universal truth of regeneration.

I’ve wanted to write for most of my life, and I’ve fulfilled that desire when I could, how I could, despite various detours and dire obstacles (a universal experience) that I won’t enumerate here. But I will say this: the magic of creativity, the power of writing, the moments I treasure, have always been unexpected and have rekindled a sense of gratitude and wonder. This sense of homecoming and awe is also, I believe, universal.

painting of water moving in cycles

Salt and Other Spells: painting by Melissa McCanna.

Last Sunday was a perfect example. A few months ago, I had sent three poems to a juried committee for a local community event called Ars Poetica, a collaboration of poets’ words and artists’ interpretations. All three poems were chosen, two by one artist, one by another, who then set about making art from what they felt the poems were saying to them, in preparation for a gallery exhibition and poetry reading. When the day came to attend the public event, I was prepared.

Prepared to be very nervous. Prepared to be disappointed in my own delivery of the poems. Prepared to feel let down, or overwhelmed. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional response I would have to seeing my poems on a gallery wall, never mind the stunning impact of the art which emerged from the images I  had conjured in the privacy of my mind.

ice tongs hold a small crystal heart, which holds in turn the image of a sleeping woman with long flowing hair.

Melt: an art assemblage by Steve Parmalee

Or how momentous it would feel to meet in person, the artists who had engaged so deeply with my work, Melissa McCanna and Steve Parmalee. It was a magical experience: unexpected in it’s impact, momentous in the way it renewed my understanding of why I write. To connect, to inspire, but more importantly, to experience the creative force that is life-giving, joyful, heart-sustaining, and community-building. May we all find ways to connect with Source, with one another, and may we all remain open to the blessedly unexpected gift of joy.

The Sailor’s Daughter: painting by Melissa McCanna