That is a title of the book where five of my poems were published last summer. I did not have my personal paperback copy of the book until recently. I ordered it in April and it arrived in May. It was like I ordered a treasure and when it was delivered to my doorstep and I was finally able to hold it, it felt like a gift. While I’m writing I have it in my lap, as if it’s going to help me with writing; and the book itself still feels like a gift.
The book is a collection of poetry written by ordinary people from around the world. Chris Goan, the book’s editor and initiator of the project put out a request on social media for people to submit poems on a range of topics.
In his introduction Chris put’s it like this:
“What I was looking for was a new kind of Christian poetry – using language set free from the narrow clichés; an honest kind of poetry that arose from a deep well of the Spirit within us. Poetry that did not shrink from pain, from ugliness, from doubt, from anger at God even. Poetry that asked questions more than it answered them. Poetry that held us to account for our actions – particularly those of us who have any kind of power. Poetry that was skewed towards the weak, the broken, the poor (as these were the preoccupations of Jesus).”
I dipped into it and read some of the other poems, though they are more for savouring than for a quick consumption. Yet I must say what I most love about this book is its title. “Learning to love”. It is so realistic, for we are all learning how to love.
When thinking of who I would like to attract as the audience for my blog, I think it would be any one of you who is willing to learn from and about love, anyone who loves beauty and is open to growth, who wants to explore deeper truths in life. I actually never thought about my audience until I was asked this question. Is it really necessary to narrow it down? I wish to welcome everyone who is willing to come and read my writing.
Naturally, I always hoped that people who know me will read my posts, and that hopefully at least some of it will inspire them. Of the people who don’t (yet) know me, I am always honoured when they, when you appreciate my thoughts and when I hear that what I have written has resonated in some way. I especially value the readers who don’t agree with me (on everything) but still choose to come here, and when they comment they do so lovingly and with great respect. A few of you will recognise yourself in this and just know that I truly appreciate it.
The best books I have read were not necessarily those that were well written, or that thought me much. One of the most profound experiences of reading was when I noticed that not only was I enjoying the book I was reading, but that the book was in fact simultaneously reading me; as if the writer understood me. How did he know what I was going through? His profound words were unlocking something deep inside me and whatever he was saying made sense. That writer was Thomas Merton. Poetry has a way of unlocking those depths. And while I don’t envisage that my writing can always do the same, I do hope that I can at least encourage, inspire and point towards what is beautiful in this life. At least from time to time.
Eventually, when my written word progresses further from “Learning to Love” towards my own published book, I hope that perhaps through this blog and other means there will be a small community of people who will already be pleased to read my creative writing ‘offline’. Whether you are new to my blog, or you have been coming regularly, it is my privilege to welcome you to my site. I hope your time here can be like a walk in the garden, admiring the flowers, taking rest, and that my words, images and themes I address, will sip into your soul as if you were reading a book at the far end of the garden. Tell me your thoughts as you read and we can imagine that we are chatting over coffee or afternoon tea, reading poetry together and talking about life, in order to learn together how to live well and how to truly love.
(To order “Learning to love” go here)
© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 19th June 2015)
Photo by © Iva Beranek