I promised in my last post that I would talk to you about the messages on the balloons that were part of the Poetry Box unveiling. It is interesting that in the last few days I have had conversations with different people about the legacy we leave behind and how we’ll be remembered at our funerals. What do funerals have to do with Poetry? Funny you ask……
Who would have known (not I), how this interaction with poetry would end up teaching me so many life lessons. The messages on each balloon are a good example. I wrote the messages to provoke thought around poetry in the kids’ minds and then hoped it would spark conversations. Little did I know that each of the messages not only represents something poetry can do, but also have provided me with a better vision of a blessed life! So here we go!
Message 1: “Creates Images”
Just as the poet’s words can conjure images up in our minds, so can we leave images with others we come in contact with. There are those pictures we can bring forth from our memories of images that have touched us. A stranger’s smile just when we needed it most, your grandma’s open arms as you arrive for a visit, or a child’s eyes lighting up when she finally understands. We choose everyday what images we leave with those around us. I am becoming more aware how important it is to leave as good an image as I can, as often as I can, so that those who are watching are left with beautiful pictures when they need them.
Message 2: “Helps You Understand People”
Poetry is a safe place where you can express yourself freely. Reading poetry exposes us to different values, beliefs, customs, thoughts, and ideas. It helps us see the world in a new way. We need to be open to read people and allow ourselves to be read in the same fashion, letting our differences create beautiful verses together, one building on another.
Message 3: “Shares Feelings”
There is a reason why certain poems have lasted through the centuries; they elicit strong feelings in the reader! Poetry is often the language of love. The Psalmists used it as heartfelt praise. There are poems that express every feeling a human has ever felt. That’s why we love poetry. We discover we are not alone in our feelings. There is nothing more reassuring as when someone says, “I know how you feel. I’ve been through it too”. Sharing our feelings with each other is risky. It is uncomfortable. It is sometimes embarrassing. But sharing your feelings with someone else is also the greatest gift you can give them (and here’s a little secret it is a gift for yourself too!)
Message 4: “Poetry Tells Stories”
I am a story teller at heart. I love to use my words and phrases to draw a listener into my tale. To make them feel as if they are one of the characters and part of the action. Poets do the same thing with their rhythm and rhyme. They lure us into their story with their web of verse and suspend us there until we reach the end, leaving us wanting more. This is life! We all have a story to tell! Some funny, some sad, some scary, some boring, you get the picture, but a story to tell just the same. We all like to tell them (some over and over again) to any audience we can find. Sometimes, we are all trying to tell them at once and we get louder and louder and louder until no one can hear anything…. I think the lesson here is that yes, we do have a story but we don’t always have to be the teller. It is important to also be a willing listener. For what magic do we miss out on when we hear only our own story? What heights might we soar by hearing what others have to say? Instead of seeing ourselves as story tellers, why not be story collectors?
These first four balloon messages while intended to describe poetry, have helped me see a little more clearly the person I hope to be remembered as. I hope that each day, I leave an uplifting image with someone I meet. I aspire to be understanding and accepting of the differences between myself and others and to build on those differences to create strong relationships. I want to be more willing to bare my soul and share my feelings with those who need reassurance all the while realizing that I need it too. And I hope that one day when I am being remembered people will laugh at some of stories I’ve told, but in their hearts they will recall that I collected theirs too.