Before this morning’s yoga class a fellow student shared that to be inspired is to be “in spirit” and that to feel enthusiasm is to be with god (en+theos). This got me thinking (as a lot of things do) about poetry. For a few years, before I had children and when time to read and write was plentiful, poetry was my religion. It was my sun and my moon. I memorized scores of poems, in the event that I was trapped in a cave I wanted to be the person who knew more poems than my cave-trapped friends. (At this time in my life I wasn’t friends with anyone who might know something useful—like how to get out of a cave.) Poetry was my inspiration and my enthusiasm and, although I am not quite as steeped in it as I used to be, it still is one of my great loves.
The first definition of inspiration in Merriam-Webster is this: A divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation. And what poem, I mean what really good poem, is not a sacred revelation? Whether the poet is playing in the waves of the divine or diving into darker realms there is an inspired communication underway. There is that place where a string of words ignite and become a poem. That thrills me, but it may not thrill you and that doesn’t matter. What matters is what inspires you. In yoga class we are reminded to open to grace, to remember that we are all – to paraphrase Merriam-Webster – imminently qualified to receive sacred revelation. On good days I am open to that, I can see inspiration everywhere. I get a hit of the divine from a heart-opening back bend, a walk in the woods with my little dog, or from snuggling with a warm, sleepy little boy. On even better days I realize that I am that sacred revelation. And so are you.