Monthly Archives: December 2012

First breath

Cape Town Anglican Cathedral - walking the labyrinth and a feather on the path

Cape Town Anglican Cathedral – walking the labyrinth and a feather on the path

Breathing life into a blog seems like the best way to start.

The year is coming to an end and this is a year that I dedicated to reading and listening to more poetry – I made a small start and read more of Mary Oliver and David Whyte and also read some of the poet laureate of Kazakhstan Olzhas Suleimenov. I also spent time enjoying the poetry in the company of songs by Eric Bogle, Paul Kelly, Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen. I love the sound of poetry put to music in song and the lyric and the tune finding each other and hugging the sounds and the syllables together.

Amidst the poetry life flowed too and when I think of Hildegard’s poetic wisdom in words and pictures I always seem to come back to her phrase ‘ a feather on the breath of God’. David Whyte says good poetry begins with the lightest touch and I am sure Hildegard would be satisfied with this thought.  So too I want this blog to be about the lightest touch, the feel of a feather against the skin,or gently floating on a summer’s breeze.

I am also reminded of one of my favourite tales where the dove is asked by the coal- mouse: How much does a snowflake weigh? And the dove answers “nothing more than nothing and the tale goes:

“In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story,” the coal-mouse said.

“I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow — not heavily, not in a raging blizzard — no, just like in a dream, without a wound and without any violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the 3,741,953rd dropped onto the branch — nothing more than nothing, as you say — the branch broke off.”

Having said that, the coal-mouse ran away.

The dove, an authority on this since the time of Noah, thought about the story for awhile, and finally said to herself, “Perhaps there is only one person’s voice lacking for peace to come to the world.”

These elements of air and space – a single breath, a feather, the lightest touch, a snowflake – all call me to a place of knowing my smallness is significant and perhaps all that the world needs right now and it is my inheritance to breathe and be alive even in the moments I want to hold my breath.

This is my first breath to bring my blog to life.

The Lightest Touch

Good poetry begins with
the lightest touch,
a breeze arriving from nowhere,
a whispered healing arrival,
a word in your ear,
a settling into things,
then like a hand in the dark
it arrests the whole body,
steeling you for revelation.

In the silence that follows
a great line
you can feel Lazarus
deep inside
even the laziest, most deathly afraid
part of you,
lift up his hands and walk toward the light.

— David Whyte
from Everything is Waiting for You 
©2003 Many Rivers Press