|Addendum February, 2007
| The idea of Incarnation (God birthing in us)
grows out of a practice of receptivity.
Mary was willing to receive the seed of Life
and the Christ-child was born.
In the winter journey we slowly
learn the discipline of receptiveness.
William Stafford was an American poet.
He died a decade ago but left a rich body of poetry.
He is the person who talked about the golden threads that Blake wrote
about. Here is an excerpt on his journey around following the threads.
On the Writing of Poetry
A writer is not so much someone who has something to say
as he is someone who has found a process
that will bring about new things
he would not have thought of if he had started to say them.
That is, he does not draw on a reservoir;
instead he engages in an activity that brings to him
a whole succession of unforeseen stories,
poems, essays, plays, laws, philosophies, or—but wait!
Back in school, from the first when I began to try to write things,
I felt this richness.
One thing would lead to another;
the world would give and give.
Now, after twenty years or so of trying,
I live by that certain richness, an idea hard to pin,
difficult to say, and perhaps offensive to some.
For there are strange implications in it.
One implication is the importance of just plain receptivity.
When I write, I like to have an interval
before me when I am not likely to be interrupted.
For me, this means usually the early morning,
before others are awake.
I get pen and paper, take a glance out of the window
(often it is dark out there), and wait.
It is like fishing.
But I do not wait very long, for there is always a nibble—
and this is where receptivity comes in.
To get started I will accept anything that occurs to me.
Something always occurs, of course, to any of us.
We can’t keep from thinking.
Maybe I have to settle for an immediate impression:
it’s cold, or hot, or dark, or bright, or in between!
Oh—well, the possibilities are endless.
If I put down something,
that thing will help the next thing come,
and I’m off.
If I let the process go on,
things will occur to me
that was not at all in my mind when I started.
These things, odd or trivial as they may be,
are somehow connected.
And If I let them string out, surprising things will happen.
Each poem is a miracle that has been invited to happen.
Each poem is a gift, a surprise—
that emerges as itself.
When Blake says, “I give you the end of a golden thread.
Roll it into a ball. It will lead you into heaven’s gate
built in Jerusalem’s wall,”
we learn to be caught by the threads
and follow them along.
Any old thread will do.
The key is not to pull the thread too hard.
Lots of people just grab what is there.
Be willing to accept whatever comes.
That is Jerusalem for me today.