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Poetic Spiritual Excursion

For everyone, there is a poet whose work will delight and entrance the reader. If you are feeling isolated and alone, try Emily Dickinson. If you're feeling like you want to unravel the meaning of life, try George Gordon aka Lord Byron to lead you through a metaphorically mystical journey.  Whether it's verses written in perfect iambic pentameter or freestyle staccato verses with assonance rhymes, poetry is indeed food for the hungry soul. 

For me, my renewed faith in the power of poetry occurred at a mountain lodge. The party I was with was going all the way to the top of Mount Lafayette in New Hampshire, and me, without the stamina to go all the way, was left behind.  The stopping point was at a hiker's hostel lodge 3/4 of the way up the mountain trail. While taking in the majestic view from large bay windows, a fellow traveler who was with another hiking party right in front of mine.  handed me a much-needed cup of hot cocoa  smiled and commented, "At least we made it this far!" This far, indeed, but not far enough, I thought. With time on my hands and with my defrosting fingers working again, I glanced  down at the little wooden table, on which lie a dog-eared copy of "Leaves of Grass" by Walt Whitman. 

Enjoying the warmth of the fireplace, I settled my aching muscles in a wooden rocker and read the volume cover to cover. The emotions expressed in his work gently challenged and delighted my sad heart. Whitman's wonder at the beauty of his country, his mourning for an assassinated president, his ethereal yet practical understanding of the common human condition, his faith in the simple things that co-exist with yet supersede science.  I felt an intuitive connection with a man I had never me--a man who died long before I was born. Walt Whitman, the often denigrated and misunderstood poet of his time reached out to me through the pages and entranced me to fall deeply in love with his words. 

No longer feeling like a failure, I felt more like an adventurer, of the spiritual kind.  Was I meant to not make it to the top of the mountain? Was it fate that put this amazing work in my hands? Since that time I have used the poetry of various artists, historic and contemporary, famous and amateur to heal my weary soul and inspire me to see living life as an art to be practiced, not a mountain to be climbed.  


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