This morning I had just been looking at a poem I've been revising for months (OK, years), printing it out to get some feedback on it later this week. It has the ocean in it, "a slipper silver as a fish," and a fishing net.
So what's the reflection about when I get to church? Fishing nets. All right, dropping them to follow the big guy. But enough to make it a Random Coinciday!
Pastor Bob was interested in what would make you drop everything and start a new adventure, and, specifically, what would you need to give up to do so.
This was not leading to an easy equation, nor a conventional platitude: to win big you have to take a big risk, etc. This was a suggestion that we might have to give up a sense of identity. When Simon and Andrew left off fishing, they were leaving a way of life. When James and John stopped mending their nets, they were leaving a family business:
We can safely suppose there were sacrifices involved--psychological ones as well as material, having to leave behind not only their livelihood but something of their self-understanding, too.
If I've thought of myself one way, how do I think of myself a different way in order to grow or try something new? And it might not be the positives I am leaving behind but the negatives. As Bob put it:
But we don't pay as much attention to ideas and attitudes that keep us from more creative and satisfying possibilities. For instance, what about self doubt? What about resentments and grudges? What about taking responsibility for problems that belong to others? What about the need to please someone who'll never give their approval? What if some of our mental baggage amounted to the fishing nets those first disciples walked away from to promote a more optimistic and worthwhile agenda for our neighbors and family and friends?
Yes, the nets could well be seen as entanglements, or things we hold onto that can drag us down into the swirling depths, or even drown us. It's hard to swim tangled in a net or lugging a lot of mental baggage.
So this is something I'll be thinking about for a while and hoping to implement. I realized I could report in church today that I had been a good goatherd this week! A guy who could have gotten my goat didn't. I let him talk and let it go. I suppose it could be said that I did not take any responsibility for his problem! He gets to do that! (Poor him.)
Meanwhile, I had some poem acceptances this week, including a poem called "Grudge." I'm not sure what to make of that.
"You must change your life," said Rilke. So that's what I keep doing. I worked as an actor and director in Chicago, wrote for an encyclopedia, edited two poetry journals, shelved and retrieved materials in several libraries, walked beans, and was an assistant professor of English. Now I serve as Poetry Editor and Editor at Large for Escape Into Life, an online arts magazine, write & edit as a freelancer, blog "eight days a week," study the random, tend perennials, and listen to birdsong.