Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Poet as Minor Pastor

Pastor as Minor Poet

I wanted to be a pastor. Seventeen years old, word-loving, soul-loving. It seemed the thing. So I declared a Bible major.

That was before I considered what it would take, where the openings would be. Before I sat in classes as a woman among men. It occurred to me one day... this might be an uphill journey I wasn't willing to take.

So I declared an English major.

It was a good decision. I don't say this to make a statement about women in the ministry. I say this because I truly believe I've found my sweet spot, as a prose-poet... and even... dare I claim it... as a poet-poet.

In The Pastor As Minor Poet, M. Craig Barnes suggests the image of pastor as poet...

"Someone has to teach the people how to dream."

"It takes a poet to find that presence beneath the layers of strategy for coping with the feeling of its absence."

"The minor poet knows these people. He or she knows the unique struggles, confusions, and yearnings they carry around in their hearts because they are perceived not as people in general but as the collection of individuals who have made their way into the heart of the pastor."

At one point he quotes Barbara Brown Taylor, who says, "The parts of the Christian story that had drawn me into the Church were not the believing parts but the beholding parts." And I found myself scribbling in the margin... my job, then, is first to see, then to describe and say, 'Behold.'

It was in that moment that I thought... I am reading a book about being a pastor-poet. Why does this stir so deeply? Is it not because I am the inverse? I am the poet as minor pastor. And it is exactly who I want to be.


Come rest
a while in the red
rocker, tell your
cares to me. Day
is still young, wisteria
hangs purple from the
wainscot porch roof,
dew poised on its turning
leaf. Drink a shivering
glass of sweet tea, suck
lemon on your way
to settled sugar endings.
Rock your cares into
my floorboards. Come,
rest a while with me.

Poetry prompt: let's go out to the porch (or the deck, or the yard if you don't have a porch... or, maybe you write about a porch from the past or the one you dream of having). Please post your offering by Thursday, August 20, for possible feature and definite links at High Calling Blogs. Leave your link here in the comment box so I don't miss you (I'm a little busy these days and I do miss things.)

Pastor as Minor Poet photo, by L.L. Barkat. Thanks Scot, for bringing me to this beautiful book.

Thanks to Wendy for this lovely review... "I don't think I could have chosen a more appropriate book to begin with during my reading time at camp. Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places, by L.L. Barkat, was a breath of fresh air to my soul..." continue reading

Monica’s Shoe Rack
Joelle’s Asphalt Halls
A Simple Country Girl’s Hall
Mom2Six’s Connecting
Lance’s Altered Jesus
Liz’s The Hallway
Yvette’s Dark and Dank
Heather’s Hallways
Amber’s A Hall Gathering
nAncY’s The Hall
Jim’s Sanctuary of Nothing
Ann’s Read the Writing on the Wall
Deb’s Great Hall Presents
Emily's Hall Hell Redemption
Laura's Down the Hall
Wendy's At the Corner of Now and Then

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

your post is full of little things to explore and savor. thanks.

here is a "hall" offering for rap.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I love your thoughts here, particularly as I've read you saying that you write in order to love people...what better way to love, than to help them behold, too.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Jim Martin said...

A very good post which has made me want to read this book. Thanks very much, L.L.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

I may post some poetry later, but I
had something else come to mind:

And I found myself scribbling in the margin... my job, then, is first to see, then to describe and say, 'Behold.'

'Then the LORD answered me and said: "Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it."' (Hab.2:2)

What a beautiful call...

4:18 PM  
Blogger sojourner said...

sounds like an interesting book - i like the way you turned the title around to reflect your inverse - also, it's good to learn more bits and pieces about you, like thinking about becoming an ordained minister - i thought the same myself and was very much inspired by Barbara Brown Taylor. I think you woud like her recent book: An Alter in The World. I've also posted a poem for the poetry challenge. Peace!

4:21 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Thank you so much for your comment. I feel deeply honored. I read your words with amazement and joy. How I love the written word, and I know there is inspired ministry in your words.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I remember going to a retreat with a friend and some of the group were looking at bible college options, and my confused self at the time thought , perhaps.
But oddly, I never felt with them anything of poetry, nor would the word behold come to mind , but it seemed a rather rule or punishment group, so I backed away gradually. I am more and more content with my own ministry, such as it is.
You describe a spirit so well. As always. You encourage so much.

6:33 AM  
Blogger Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

Your words are a porch where the bones settle in their sockets and the lungs exhale all of a day.

Isn't it hardest to make poetry of the words that matter most? The ones we live?

Thank you, L.L., for all you minister to...

All's grace,

9:04 AM  
Blogger jim schmotzer said...

prompt update -- and there's a new poem -

1:09 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"wainscot porch roof"

I can totally visualize this, great word image!

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

Here is my response to your "Porch" prompt.

"Grandpa's Deck"

I've been exploring your work. The more I see, the more I want to see. What a gift you have!

8:02 AM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, L.L. I ought to read the book as well. I'll put it on my Amazon wish list, that way I won't forget it.

And nice poem. I need to keep reading poems, and reading them over again, and slowly.

The message and reality from the message- in Jesus does need to touch us from the top of our heads to the tip of our toes. And is meant from there through Jesus' people to touch all of the world.

I'm a slow learner when it comes to poems. I guess I'll just have to dive in, and go from there. I know you've been pushing me a little on that.

1:45 PM  
Blogger Sharon Goemaere said...

Wonderful post LL!Bless you~Sharon

7:26 PM  
Blogger SimplyDarlene said...

My porch offering...

(skip to the bottom of the post for the poetry part)

Thank you for sharing your porch and your shivering sweat tea!

12:26 PM  
Blogger Monica Sharman said...

"Porch" RAP here, just in time before we go backpacking:

1:05 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

As a southern girl, I too like the shivering sweet tea shared on your porch.

My porch offering...

11:19 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

my offering for the porch prompt:

come rest a while with me... i have always dreamed of falling asleep on a wooden floorboard porch in an old rocking chair while someone is playing piano inside the house. maybe one day my dream will be realised...

6:21 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Pastor poet...I love it.
You are one.

My RAP entry for the porch is ready!

I can't wait to go read the others!

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Lance said...

Here is the man I see every day out on the veranda, where it is always, "Porch Weather."

12:38 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I have posted my poem for the Porch prompt. This is my first time to participate, so I'm not sure exactly what to do.
It was such fun. Thank you for this lovely place.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth Dianne said...

I am posting a poem on my website to join in for Aug 20 yard, porch theme. Thank you, Dianne

2:11 PM  
Blogger rosyjane said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:41 PM  
Blogger rosyjane said...

Thanks so much for the poetry prompt. It inspired me and here is my contribution.

The Conversion

"I want a porch!"
I told the builder
"Can't do it." he replied.

"I want a porch!
I told my husband
"What do you mean?" he asked.

I want a place to sit outside
to see the trees,
to feel the breeze,
to read, to pray
to meditate.

I want an outside space
attached to the house
to sit,
to snuggle
to decorate.

"Well," he said.
"We can't add a porch
to this houseplan.
How bout a deck instead?"

If I can
sit in the sun
as the day's begun
And talk on the phone
with room to roam
Or observe the light
when day turns to night
I think a deck will do.

"We've added a deck!"
I told my mother.
"How lovely for you!
she exclaimed.

"I love my deck!"
I told my husband.
He nodded and said.
"I know."

2:47 PM  

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