Monday, April 28, 2014

The Poet's New Adventure

Luci Shaw is one of our favorite poets. We have followed her from Listen to the Green (1971) through A Widening Light (1984 in which she served as editor and poet), Polishing the Petoskey Stone (1990), and The Angles of Light (2000), as well as many other of her books of memorable poetry. At first, I thought her new book would be another enjoyable feast of poetry but the title invites us to an Adventure of Ascent, Field Notes from a Lifelong Journey, from “Ah, Luci, what are you planning for us today,” I thought as I opened this new treasure. And I soon found that it is that, a treasure to keep near, and to think about in our own situations, challenges, joys and sorrows, as we continue on our journeys to the end of our lives here on earth and in future.

Now in her eighties and as active as ever, Luci has a goal. She plans to keep on growing and to share her adventures with us, to “act as a scout” actually, and to move through new territory and to report back to all of us so that we may know what it’s like for her and for us, what to expect, and how to deal with whatever comes to us. Her poetry is there among her thoughts and plans and sharing of stories. Her purpose is to “document her life as it travels toward the summit.” To be really honest and to “shed a clean light on what it’s like to be edging, inevitably, toward....?” Who knows what?

She says she will be asking lots of questions, lots of whys, whens, wheres and hows. Not new questions but she will ask for her own personal answers, thinking maybe we will profit from thinking about them as well. I admit I did learn from this dear poet and woman I call friend because of her words, her concerns, her openness, her sharing. Some of her questions I hadn’t even begun to think about nor try to answer. But, I will. Thanks, Luci.

Her thoughts on “downsizing” were helpful. It’s something most of us probably need to do at a certain time. Hard to do though. What to do with favorite stones and pottery and books? She reminds us that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). Yes, and those we love are really our treasures. And “they are not going away,” Luci says.

Luci is guessing “about future possibilities.” She feels gratitude for all she has been given, and she quotes “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (Ps. 103:1). Luci admits her “future is a surprise package full of questions without answers.” Her book ends with a poem, of course, as she asks: “when you go, will you go with a sizzle, or a sigh, will you leave with a bang, or quietly clinging, or will your bud of burning a wider light?”

—Lois Sibley