poetry and our funny, hiding hearts: an invitation for you

Jennifer Camp
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Jennifer Camp, co-founder of  Gather Ministries, and author of  Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both  Facebook  and  Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.

To tell you why I have started writing poetry is to let you in on a secret. A secret whose complete answer I still don’t understand. But I can tell you a bit of the truth, for I do want you to know it. But you’ll have to bear with me. I am figuring this out, you see. I am just learning the way. But the part I know, or I am pretty sure of, at least, is this:  Poetry has lent itself to me (for I am participating in something both within me and outside of me simultaneously) as an exercise inevitable and mandatory. A bit surreptitious, perhaps, even covert, but necessary and imperative all the same: I have been writing for a solitary purpose, the rescuing of my heart.

Now, before you begin to think that this sounds weird–that I think I can rescue myself–and on my own–that is not exactly what I mean. I mean that for me to be healed, in any way that I need it, I need to participate in my own healing. I need to cooperate. Be all in. I also need to be brave–or, at least, trick myself into it. (Yes, I am one beautiful mess, I know.)  Because my heart is a heart that hides. My heart is a heart that struggles to engage. My heart is a heart displaced–from thoughts, emotions, opinions. If you asked me, a year ago, how I was feeling, I couldn’t tell you. Not really. I would have given you an answer though. (I am good at faking it.) But my own heart? How it truly felt? No, I didn’t know.

So, in short order, a rescue mission was needed. And writing poetry, in addition to psychotherapy, has been a helpful tool this past year.

Poetry introduced itself to me a year ago while I was a block from my house, walking our dog. Like closed captions on an invisible wall that only I could see, the poem was the translation of my emotions, telling a story to my heart I didn’t know how to see. And last fall, as I struggled to discern my emotions–joy and grief, anger and gratitude–writing poetry was a process of self-discovery. Writing poetry broke my heart open in the most necessary way. 

The reason I am sharing this with you here–and now–is this: I wonder if this breaking open–for our hearts to hear, feel, sense, to their fullest capacity–is something God might have for you too. Waking up our hearts feels like love. It feels like saying yes to wholeness.

Our hearts are beautiful, funny things. Easily displaced. Prone to wander.  Playing hide-and-seek, peeking out from behind a corner somewhere, but in a less friendly, fun-loving way. It can feel pretty lonely, this game where our hearts are shy and hurt and afraid. And not so lighthearted, either, like games are supposed to be. It feels more like hide-and-seek in a cave, where the air is thick and heavy, and the cave twists this way and that and you stumble, hands outstretched, unsure of whether the next step you take is the right one or if it will lead you to a place you don’t want to go. Writing poetry might help you get out of the cave.

Tell me in the comments if you’d like to feel your way along with me–join me in writing down a line or two, as I invite you, in upcoming posts here–for the purpose of rediscovering the deeper treasures of your one beautiful heart. I am not yet sure how this would look. But it feels like the next step to take–to offer my hand and see if you’ll take it–in this most beautiful stumble toward healing and hope and light. This experience, when I write, is one of the ways I am experiencing God again. A new landscape I didn’t know I was desperate to find. So let me know if you are interested in stumbling along with me. I think it will be worth it. Even if, right now, our beautiful, funny hearts are peeking out from behind the shadows, or trapped in that darkest of caves. With God, we can get to them. Step by step. Word by word. Even if, right now, we don’t know the way.

This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com

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About Jennifer Camp

Jennifer Camp, co-founder of  Gather Ministries, and author of  Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both  Facebook  and  Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.