We just celebrated the turning of maples
It occurred to me how it takes so little to celebrate
Back home we only acknowledged big events
I know why
Birthdays weren’t among the big events
But funerals were. And baptisms, marriages–the arc
Birth, Weddings, Death.
The English department at UNCA in conjunction with Wake Forest University School of Divinity just concluded Faith in Literature Festival, focused on hearing “from 14 writers whose work deeply engages–by embracing, complicating, or wrestling with–a faith tradition or spiritual practice.” Some of the invited guest writers included Laurie Patton, who is also a magnificent translator, Isabel Wilkerson–the Pulitzer prize winner–Marilyn Nelson, Lauren Winner, Amy Gottlieb, Shadab Zeest Hashmi, Scott Cairns, and others.
Since I’m always looking for and stumbling upon leaves of inspiration, I happened to be in a highly receptive state (apparently giving is masculine and receiving feminine but that’s a topic for another time. I’m not even sure that’s entirely true. I’ve been listening to cheap psychology!). What I took away from the festival is the individual ways through which a commitment to spirit or spiritual practice inspires and informs the writing process. There I was thinking that in the most basic form, writing a world into being isn’t that different from speaking the world/creation into being. The concept is simple but the practice is never that effortless, and that’s where the writers candid humility shone when demonstrating modeling the spirit.
I sat in the Sukkah after it was built and felt a remarkable peace. Singular. I was on my way home when the structure beckoned me. By now you know I’m not the kind to decline such nudging. It felt like a tug. I read my students work and thought it was the best place to be, for reflection, feedback, introspection and yes, grading. There was compassion in the air and I decided not to think too much about that other than embracing it. At one point though I did wonder how I could feel that way when the rest of the “world” was consumed with elections and voting, wars somewhere, inflation, crime, injustice… name the monsters plaguing the planet. But then I returned to the all right feeling. Sometimes you just have to accept the mysteries springing out of you or coming to you, the gift of faith, perhaps, like a child, definitely spiritual; when all of a sudden you find yourself content and peaceful. It doesn’t mean that everything is okay but all is well with the soul and
p r i c e l e s s.