Poetry in Sacred Space

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.

I’m not going to lie to you. Some days of writing poetry are not easy. It can look like staring at the blank page, willing it to say something. 

But keep listening. Searching. Expecting. 

There is no shortage of words and ideas and memories that want to speak. Pulling them forth, from the deep place where they hide–a line here, a picture there–requires both gentleness and tenacity. The words need convincing, you see. Whether they tumble out like crazed acrobats that need a safe place to land or they peek out from behind bedroom curtains or in cupboards in the kitchen like agoraphobic secret agents unsure if they want to come out of hiding, we must be prepared to receive them. We must let them know they are welcome. Even if our hearts aren’t sure what to do with them when we do coax them out and we’re all just standing there–the words and us–looking at one another quizzically, in the same room.

It might help, in these tricky situations, to start with an introduction: you to the words; the words to you. And the best way to do this? I have a suggestion: try having the introduction happen in what can best be described as sacred space. And this is actually going to be our poetry prompt this week too: letting our words and memories, our minds and our hearts, speak to us about sacred space. Let me tell you what I mean.

Sacred space is the place within you where words of truth are formed. It is the place deep within you that harbors memory, reflects thought, pursues relationship, engages in emotion whether it be rage or sadness or elation or pain. It is the place within you, that deeper place, that wants to communicate what is most true. To write poetry of the heart–poetry that pursues wholeness-we must let ourselves inhabit a space of truth when we write. 

It is in this sacred space where we call forth our heart’s deepest cries. It is the place we heed most attentively when we write poetry. We lean in close, trusting that our hearts, who inhabit and know this sacred space, have something to teach us–and that we, as listeners, are capable of writing it down.

One of the books I love–Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making, by John Fox, says poems of sacred space “turn your accute observations into a poem of place: a place that invites poems.” 

So, the writing prompt for Loop Poetry Project this week is to consider your sacred space and write a poem that brings it to life somehow. Acute observation will help, and here are some questions to consider: 

  • What does your sacred space look like? Feel like? (Consider colors, textures, smells.)
  • What memories does it evoke? 
  • Is it a physical space, or a space represented in your imagination? (Consider the quality of the light: is it light or dark?)
  • How does it make you feel to be there? (This is super important–listen to your heart here. Make sure your feelings are represented.)
  • Is there a story connected with this space? 
  • Are objects here from your childhood?
  • Is it a physical place you inhabit regularly? 

Here is a poem I wrote this week about a place of sacred space for me, which happens to represent an isolated experience from my childhood:

This poem has been rewritten several times since I wrote it last week–and it might need a few more rounds of edits, although I will let sit it here a while before diving in again. But when I considered the topic of sacred space, I thought of the essence of childhood, its purity and wildness. And also the topic of family and home–the years of my growing up in an almond orchard, my dad a farmer and my mom always near. This is an example of sacred space for me–and I let myself enter back into a very particular memory to write the lines of this poem. Sacred space for you may have nothing to do with childhood. I would love to know what your heart deems as sacred space.

Of course, you don’t have to write a poem about sacred space. Write about anything you wish–anything your heart is wanting you to hear. Your poetry writing is not about catharsis (more about that later) but about the pursuit of wholeness. Honor your heart. Honor your feelings. Let your heart speak. Do your best to use language that represents its cry.

If you ever want to share your poems throughout the week on social media, please use the hashtag: #looppoetryproject so we can find each other. I follow #looppoetryproject on Instagram, and I will be excited to share your poems on my Instagram stories throughout the week. And if you are part of the Loop Poetry Project Facebook group, it will be great, if you feel led (no pressure!) to share your poems with the community over there.

Finally, in the comments–please feel free to share your thoughts on sacred space and/or share your poems! You certainly don’t have to write a poem if you don’t want to, but I’d love to hear your ideas about what sacred space means to you.

from this one true heart,

jennifer

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.