Monday, July 14, 2014

Haiku and Franciscan Spirituality

I've noted this before, but it remains true: There would seem to be a natural link between haiku and Franciscan Spirituality.

The sense of something more, something deeper, something that flows through all and connects us all.

The love of nature.

A feeling of compassion for others.



I could go on.

Yesterday, I experienced that link again.

Our local haiku group had scheduled a ginko - a gathering in a natural setting where, hopefully, we would be inspired to write haiku. The ginko was to take place in a city park - the Maplewood Rose Garden, which, as the name suggests, is full of different varieties of roses (and other flowers).

We arrived to be greeted by ... rain. At times, the rain was heavy, accompanied by strong winds. The larger gazebos were all full of people, including some of the local homeless who use the park as a campground, and, we suspect based on the reputation of the park, entrepreneurs carrying on their drug trade. There was one small gazebo that was unoccupied, and we used that one as a base, jamming in to escape the rain and to write.

In between heavy downpours, we wandered among the roses. They had a variety of names, like Golden Showers (appropriate yesterday), Gemini (to my amusement, just a single plant), and those of famous people, including a spot for Dolly Parton roses (which, I noted with a chuckle, was bereft of rose bushes and hence "flat").

The was a fountain, dedicated 18 years before, that was empty of water (except for that provided by the rain) and not working. That inspired me to write:

rose garden fountain
empty except for babbling
haiku poets

When the wind and rain and thunder drove us into the gazebo for shelter and to write, I watched some of the other park visitors. There was one group that huddled in one shelter, looking at us occasionally and keeping their backs to us. In another shelter, several people were sleeping. Three young men were laughing and throwing a football in the pouring rain. There were several people who eyed us nervously - haiku poets inspiring unease? - and wandered from tree to tree. There was one woman who was dressed in mismatched clothes. She stopped periodically, talking to herself, gesturing, even dancing. I wondered if she was troubled, perhaps mentally ill, possibly even on drugs. I said a prayer for her.

On of our poets noted. laughing at herself, that here she was a haiku poet who seeks inspiration in nature, yet she is sensitive to the sun, allergic to bees, and nervous about ticks. She had on wrist and ankle bands to keep insects away, and rummaged through her bag for something lotion to rub on as she watched the bees floating in and out of the gazebo also seeking shelter from the rain.

nature poet
intently searching bag for
insect repellent

We shared haiku the ginko inspired - I had none (the two that I included above were written later); I was just enjoying the moment and the others' creations.

I also thought of St. Francis. I could imagine him sitting there listening to the others, enjoying and celebrating their efforts, chuckling, wondering about the other park denizens. Caring about them. I could imagine him wandering over to some of the others  - like that dancing woman - sharing God's love. Maybe he would have danced with her.

I was not so brave or full of love.

Would Francis have written haiku if that form had been invented centuries earlier than it was and if it had reached Italy? I'd like to imagine he would have.

in the rose garden
St. Francis praises the rain
embraces the thorns

Pax et bonum

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