Poets – The Soul’s Physicians

Karen holes up in my heart when she needs to.

Her cave has been customized within the folds of my fourth chakra.  The space is plentiful, but Karen’s registered claim has all the attributes of permanency.  In place of a lease, an unwritten agreement evolved between us as gracefully and naturally as our friendship.

Four years old, but my fav - Karen and Duc le Chat

Its essence is that we love each other through life’s tangles and snares to the point where we have enhanced each others’, and our own, spiritual growth.

The second youngest of a large family, her mother died when Karen was nine years old.  Typical of a child who grew up without a birth mother’s presence, my fifty-something friend has lived life wondering what she doesn’t know that a mother would have taught her.  A knawing doubt challenges her confidence, “What is it that everyone else knows that I know nothing about?”

A clutch of women friends has received her question in various forms.  Knowing she trusts our desire for truth, we present her with this gift of reassurance:  We don’t know either.

In February, she had her ex-husband deliver my birthday present to me.  She had rushed off to spend time with friends on another island.  I was supposed to celebrate my birthday with them, but had no cat-sitter.

Of course Karen was free to ask her ex-husband to deliver a gift to a friend.  She didn’t leave the marriage until it could be done with love.

Respecting my hope to collect no more things (except art or books), Karen’s gift was The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo.  I knew nothing about Mr. Nepo, but after reading just a few phrases, I was looking forward to making his acqaintance.

Karen does not always know about the book she chooses.  The title may attract her.  Or, it’s in the new arrivals section and looks soulful.  Sometimes she’s heard me talk about the author.  For example, I was studying a course offered by Caroline Myss who highly recommended we study her book, Entering the Castle. I was silently hunting for it.  Karen was at a garage sale, saw a book by Myss and bought it for 25 cents.  You can imagine my amazement when she announced she had picked up Entering the Castle.  Blessings on her intuition.

Mark Nepo now slips into my attention unbidden from surprising sources.  Today, for example, I looked at Oprah’s daily offering sent by email.  Vacationing in Fiji, Oprah had been asking God: “Please show me who I really am.”  She wrote:

“That may seem like an odd question from someone who spends her life on TV. But as I expand to a wider network, I want to make sure I never lose sight of the truth of my existence. I am a ripple in the ocean of God, and I want to be able to see my reflection in the face of everyone I meet, to understand that even people I will never know are reflections of my undisguised self.”

She goes on,

“As I was starting to write about all of this, I e-mailed my poet friend Mark Nepo, whose Book of Awakening is a year’s worth of daily lessons for living a more intentional life. Mark’s e-mail response was this:

You Ask About Poetry
You ask from an island so far away
it remains unspoiled. To walk quietly
till the miracle in everything speaks
is poetry. You want to look for poetry
in your soul and in everyday life, as you
search for stones on the beach. Four
thousand miles away, as the sun ices
the snow, I smile. For in this moment,
you are the poem. After years of looking,
I can only say that searching for
small things worn by the deep is
the art of poetry. But listening
to what they say is the poem.

Mark elaborated in his email to Oprah:

“For me, poetry is the unexpected utterance of the soul. It is where the soul touches the everyday. It is less about words and more about awakening the sense of aliveness we carry within us from birth. To walk quietly till the miracle in everything speaks is poetry, whether we write it down or not. I confess I started out wanting to write great poems, only to be worn by life to wanting to discover true poems, and now in the second half of life, I feel humbled and excited to want to be the poem!”


The Poem Arrives

The poet,

the soul’s physician,

reveals the script.

Medicinal marvels are measured.

Insights dispensed with integrity,

tinctures ground with generosity.

And the poem appears.

It says, “Hello friend.”

Karen has arrived.

32 thoughts on “Poets – The Soul’s Physicians

  1. First of all, I love Duc le Chat, he looks like what I call “a mushy kitty” you know, the ones who are purry and like to do their paw kneading a lot 🙂
    I talk to cats in a silly high pitched voice and they love it, not sure why…there goes my cool vampire image…

    Always been in awe of poets because I’ve never been able to write poetry. They have this magic ability to view the world in such a beautiful way.

    • Duc is a moosher! Doesn’t like to be held, but loves a lap. When I come home from my morning walk, he loves jumping out at me from some obscure bush. I’d love to think it’s just for me, but truth is, I chase him and he adores the fun.

      Poets know how to crawl into a feeling and show it to us. We discover its been laying there all this time – unspoken.

      • Aw he does sound like a lovely cat. I am allergic to them, sadly, if not, I’d have a couple. However, I am lucky to have an adopted kitty, that lives in my house. She belong to my landlady and I can at least pet a cat on a daily basis. The cute thing purrs so loudly, she snorts. She’s a green eyed tabby. As long as she doesn’t come into my room, I am fine 🙂

        Well said about the poets, that’s it, exactly.

  2. What a beautiful tribute to another. What stands out for me, in this post, is the selfless gift to another of something that enriches the other’s interests. In our family it is called a “warm fuzzy”. I know. I know. Perhaps that is trite, but for us it is something we search for to gift our loved ones. When we get it right, it not only enriches the receiver, but the giver, also, and the world becomes a better place for that. Good post, Amy.

  3. I sure love my sister. Although we are six years apart we are close. I don’t get to see her enough though. We are surrounded by five brothers. She is the second youngest and I am second oldest. I was lucky to have our mother for as long as I did. She did miss out on having a mother/daughter relationship. I married when she was 13 and left the area when she was 16. I have had regrets that I wasn’t always there for her when she needed a motherlike figure in her life. I also know I had my own path to follow as well. All of us (kids) have wondered about what life would have been like if our mother was present in our lives. It’s this painful sense of loss we all have experienced and endured throughout most of our lives. It has also brought us closer together as a family group. I love and cherish all my siblings. Karen is a very thoughtful and generous person. It took a long time for her to find her true self and now I believe she is truly happy. Thank you for writing such a beautiful tribute about Karen. She is a wonderful soul and I am so glad that she is my sister.

    • Thank you for your comments, Cindy! Karen and you are both so fortunate to have each other. Being the youngest in the family with a mom who was not always available due to work, etc., I know the value of older siblings. While it may have seemed we were not paying attention (!), Karen and I have shared how we observed and learned from our older brothers and sisters constantly. My oldest sister married when I was only five. Over the years, though we lived a fair distance apart, I always knew my sisters were there if I needed them. When I visited them, I loved being amongst my nieces and nephews and wallowing in that feeling of family again. My sense has been that Karen not only appreciated your presence in her life, but also the whole aunt experience!

      (I just phoned my oldest sister who’s now adjusting to living in a senior’s residence. It’s a time when I would love to be close enough to visit her at whim. As she and I discussed, we wouldn’t have much exciting news to share, but at least we’d hear each others’ voices.)

  4. “To walk quietly till the miracle in everything speaks is poetry, whether we write it down or not.”

    How beautifully said.

    And how graced you are to have such a connected friend.

    • That line caught me, too, Mel. Reading Nepo today, he writes so remarkably about connectedness – again. Yes, Mel, Karen and I have poked a few holes in a number of life’s challenges. We manage to fan the others’ spiritual embers at just the right times. We always end up with a better fire. 😀

  5. Such a beautiful tribute to your friend. I have one of those friends, who has become my sister by choice, and it’s such an amazing thing. Who says soulmates are all about romance?

    I must look up this Mark fellow. The poetry is beautiful.


  6. Ditto this! But you know that. Lovely post. That’s for the intro to Mark.

    Amy, we haven’t heard from your dear Guides for awhile. Have we? … Okay scooting back in time again now to check.

    Monday blessings. Thanks for all your visits and comments.

    • What a compliment, Victoria – thank you. I’m not the least bit surprised that you studying the techniques of an incredible mystic. It shows throughout your expressiveness.

  7. Hi Amy! I am sooo in love with this post!! A beautiful tribute not only to your friend, but also to poetry, who, in my opinion (so what if I’m bias because I’m a poetry writer!), doesn’t get enough love. I love the line calling the poet the “soul’s physican” So true! I’m am running to get this book so thank you (in advance) for introducing me to Mark Nepo.

  8. Hi Amy .. interesting to read .. Sometimes I cannot take things in .. and have just realised that until I’m free I won’t be able to work through this .. life is definitely easier and I have books to read .. but the different aspects from soul-friends like you lead me towards the path I’ll be able to look at with more time. It’s an interesting, inspiring and encouraging journey .. Wonderful Karen can turn to you .. cheers Hilary

      • Thanks Amy for your words .. life is life .. my most important thing is to be positive, move forward, enjoy what I can and the learning, I’m in an arena I never expected to be in … so I’m so grateful to have blogging friends – our breadth of experience can be so much broader as we have such a range of input – I love it. Filter out what I don’t need, enjoy some and learn so much from others … just a ‘cold’ health blip .. no medication and not serious, just grotty feeling. The sun’s still shining and Spring is here! Enjoy your week .. cheers Hilary

  9. Life happens and we put things off thinking I will get at this tomorrow… and tomorrow passes by… thus my non response for so long.
    What a heartfelt message to a friend Amy. I feel likewise in knowing you are always there whether I need to bounce something off you, or cry and tell you that my life is over and I cannot bear the pain of love.
    It is a gift to have a friend “I know” and it is fun finding treasures at garage sales or coming across the right book. We are simple and do not try and complicate our relationship it just is… and it is good.
    I am so grateful for the never ending support and your generosity that you give of yourself so often. It means a lot to pick up the phone and know that on the other end there is going to be a warm voice of encouragement and inspiration.
    I love Soul Dipper most of all I love you Amy!

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