This summer during my sabbatical, I had the pleasure of attending the Robert Frost Poetry Conference in Derby, New Hampshire. It was held on the farm that Robert Frost and his family lived on for many years. It was a wonderful experience with workshops, poets sharing their work and time for individual critiques with the poets in residence. It was thrilling, scary, challenging and helpful all at once. I can’t wait to go again next year.
The last day of the conference I had to check out of my hotel before heading over to the farm. As I was taking my things out to my car, I was pulling my suitcase backwards down some steps. Not my brightest moment. And it seemed even less so several seconds later when I found myself falling off the concrete steps and on to the asphalt parking lot.
As I lay there taking stock and making sure no bones were broken, I heard a voice. No, not God, but an elderly gentleman from my poetry conference who had told us all he was in his 90’s. He said, “I saw you fall. Are you ok?” I told him I was but didn’t think I was up to writing poetry. He replied with a grin, “Nonsense! Write a poem about your fall!” I grinned back at him, then he gave a wave and got in his car to head to the conference.
I have thought a lot about his wise words since then. I did head back to the conference but didn’t write a poem about my fall. Maybe someday. What I loved about his words was his way of looking at what happened. Don’t hang on to being upset, turn it to something creative. Make poetry out of it. Take a fall and make it something else.
Too many times in life there is a temptation to hold onto a hurt or wrong or unkind word. To sit and dwell. Perhaps instead it should spur us to action. To be creative. Maybe this means forgiving or reconciling or seeking understanding. Maybe it means letting it go and using the energy to help or encourage others.
The best part is that we don’t have to attempt this on our own. God will help us, inspire us. Give us the energy to try and see it through. It may not be easy. There may be a few aches and pains. But in the end we may be glad we wrote a poem with our lives.