Poem as prayer

My neighbor is the poet laureate of her church, St. Luke’s By the Sea Episcopal Church.

Just the name makes me smile. By the sea. How idyllic. Indeed, it is a small and unassuming church situated along the road traversing the Pacific Ocean.

I love that poetry is part of the program. Poetry as spiritual practice in which all art is holy, in which holy means reverent, means concentrated appreciation, means meditation on life.

While my neighbor-friend is not a poet, she has a fierce appreciation for poetry. Together, she and the priest choose works for each service. They aren’t necessarily religious poems, she notes, but offer a range of cultures and perspectives, from Sufi poet Hafiz to nature-focused Mary Oliver.

After the service, the congregation is hearty with praise. “The best part,” she says, “is that people really appreciate the poems, people who may not read poetry on their own.”

And maybe, without knowing, they are thankful for the gift of prayer delivered in a poem.


It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones, just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.