Friday, May 31, 2024

Spiritual Medicine

“I see poetry as spiritual medicine.”
– Mahmoud Darwish

Without a doubt, I believe in the power of prayer and medicine. After finding the above quote, I realized how much poetry has helped me soothe my soul during difficult times. Both reading and writing poetry have helped me find inner peace. While returning home from a two-and-a-half-week stay in the hospital after two surgeries, I was not only drained of energy but eager to find words to express my feelings. Because I was in isolation in the hospital, I longed for wisps of nature to bring me to an inner place of joy. I penned this draft poem during the week while sitting inside my house and looking outside.
I stare
out my window
watching the arrival
of an upcoming storm.
Winds s w a y
at rapid speed
as raindrops nestle in
between broad leaves.
Nature continues
drenching earth
from her gray sky
to verdant lawns
until showers
abrupty stop
and sunlight
s u r ro u n d s.
©CVarsalona, 2024

Studies show that reading and writing nature poetry increase feelings of connection, wonder, and appreciation for the outdoors (Aulkins et al, 2006). Tonight, I took my first short walk to the muddy pond down the street. Feeling the warmth of the evening sun and listening to the gurgling sounds at the pond, made me grateful for being home. Small steps lead to a new beginning.

Although I wished to join the Poetry Friday Roundup earlier, I shall add my post now to Janice Scully's blog. Janice is sharing the beauty of Carol Labuzzetta's new Picture Perfect Poetry Anthology filled with amazing ekphrastic poems and gorgeous nature photographs. Janice is proud to be one of the contributing poets. I am also one of those poets but that is for another blog post.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Pause & Reflect on the Spiritual Journey

I have been on a journey of growth both physically and spiritually for many decades. Each decade brings a different perspective on life. It has not been a smooth journey, but I have weathered many storms with family support, faith, and hope. Today, I look backward to pause and reflect. I restyled one of Linda Mitchell's clunker exchange lines, "You listening/my face deep in shadowed spaces", to embed in the following free verse poem.

When the moon's soft light
shines through an inked sky,
I pause to reflect.
My face deep in
shadowed spaces releases
troubling thoughts to
float in celestial silence.
Are you listening?
I wait on the Lord
for guidance.
@CVarsalona, 2024

The following inspirational quote from Henri Nouwen guided me as I worked on the June prompt for the Spiritual Journey Community, thanks to our host, Karen Eastlund.

"The spiritual life is not a life before, after, or beyond our everday existense. No, the spiritual life can only be real when it is lived in the midst of pains and joys of the here and now."

A Backward Look

On January 4, 2024, I announced my one word, pause. Initially, I retraced my steps to determine how to slow down my life. From late January to February, I developed a sinus/respiratory issue. By the time April arrived, I was scheduled for hernia surgery. I tried to breathe in the essence of spring to calm my spirit. Then, several more medical findings caused more unexpected stress. Two rare hernias were found. The first surgery led to a knick in the bladder which meant a repair surgery was needed.

A simple surgery ended with a complication and an ICU stay. Shortly after the second surgery, I was moved to the medical wing where three more infections occurred. One was contagious so I was isolated. Two and a half weeks later, I was discharged with a Foley Catheter and home health care. Needless to say, I am exhausted by the experience but I realize that trust in the Lord, self-care, and a positive attitude are important.

Thank you, Karen, for offering a prompt, look into the past for something that has shaped or inspired our current spiritual practice or outlookthat lets me intentionally pause and reflect on my spiritual journey. No matter how challenging my journey  has been lately, it encourages me to: 

  1. Get stronger through walks and simple exercises.
  2. Review my past to approach everyday life with a new mindset.
  3. Continue believing in the power of God, faith, medicine, and hope.         

Below is an inspirational Bible verse that seems meant for me. 

I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. - Psalm 32:8

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Magnolia Surprise

Now that I'm home from an extended stay at the hospital, I continue with my morning rituals along with new ones from the doctors. First, I flick the remote to release the shades. I see a gorgeous blue sky with billowy clouds greeting me. While I cannot feel the warmth of the sun shining, I appreciate nature's gift. Later in the day, I will slowly walk around the patio to admire my flowers and magnolia trees. Until then, I shall stare at the photo of the first magnolia bud my husband sent me while in the hospital.

one single bud
sends vibrations of joy
spring's corsage
©CVarsalona, 2024
Photo by RVarsalona, 2024

The opening of Joy Harjo's poem, Eagle Poem, is a tribute to nature offering me much-needed quiet reflection before bed.

To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
READ the rest of the poem HERE.

May is nature's breath of freshness.
Breathe in the essence of spring.
Like me, build yourself self-care rituals and routines.
Michelle Kogan, the poet-artist is hosting with garden delights and a birthday bash. Several poet friends are celebrating their birthdays, including Michelle, so I wish them wonderful birthday greetings. Please read the various posts gathered for the Poetry Friday Roundup besides Michelle.

By the way, my youngest granddaughter was one this week. I did get to spend time watching her eat her birthday breakfast. Attached below is the digital card I made for her.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Not a Typical Mother's Day

Sometimes, life moves in ways not expected. It can be as unpredictable as storms that pass through or as bright as spring skies offering rebirth. As I reflect, on this past Mother's Day, I realize it was a day not expected yet filled with the love of family. 

I never imagined that I would celebrate the day in the ICU wing of the hospital as opposed to having a leisurely breakfast brunch with my family. What began as a simple umbilical hernia repair turned into much more, two rare hernias most common in women over 65 with a bladder tear, a second surgery detained, pneumonia, and a fungal bacteria. I am spent but there is always hope and family love.

I turn my attention to author/poet Patricia Franz, who is hosting Poetry Friday. It feels so good to join the Friday Roundup this week. After 10 days of medical treatment, I feel the strength of nature surrounding me. I join Patricia who speaks of a forest joy experience and a commitment to the ways of tree-being, silent and tireless

Since I am still in the hospital on the medical floor, I need to take my time reading all the poetic goodness offered by the Poetry Friday community of writers. 

Friday, May 3, 2024

Growth on the Spiritual Journey

Springtime offers verdant landscapes with lush settings. It is a time of growth, rebirth, and rejuvenation as Earth reawakens from its winter slumber. The month of May opens the door to our Spiritual Journey host, Jone Rush MacCulloch's, theme on growth.

There is environmental growth and personal, self-growth. The digitized photo of a day with nature is shown below. I distinctly remember walking the grounds of Westbury Gardens, a Long Island historical site, with a euphoric feeling.  Nature was aglow. the grounds were manicured and the gardens blooming. 

What did I learn about springtime from this memorable day? 

  • Walking in nature can become a ritual that helps boost energy while developing a positive mindset
  • When the earth is blooming there is a sense of calm
  • Quiet time helps to get to know yourself 
  • Rather than attempting to reach the final draft of ourselves, we should find the courage to keep revising  -Susan David
  • I started an abracadabra, magic nine poem for my Poetry Parade Padlet. 
  • I will add two wonderful artistic expressions sent via mail from Marcie Flinchum Atkins and Irene Latham
  • Carol Labuzzetta mailed me her stunning book, Picture Perfect Poetry: An Anthology of Ekphrastic Poetry for Students. I am proud and honored to have three ekphrastic poems and another nature photograph published in her book

You can still send me your image poems or other offerings for the Poetry Parade Padlet, my National Poetry Month project.

Thank you, Jone Rush MacCulloch, for hosting Spiritual Journey with the May theme, growth, for our community of writers. I also thank Buffy Silverman, host of Poetry Friday, for her interesting science-literacy post. I plan on making the rounds this weekend.