"The flowers appear on the earth."

April March 2016 Issue

Quest ... where we share stories of passion, adventure and hope.

I love the day a crocus patch appears on the lawn. Beautiful alone; in a group they joy. Now, joy may not be commonly used a verb, but winter is past and a crocus community joys the soul.
Here is what you find in the April Quest:
  1. An Interview with Carol Steel for Poetry Month.
  2. Journal Questions for Reflection.
  3. A Sample Stroll for Your Soul & How Others are Using Stroll.
  4. Order Information for Stroll for Individuals and Groups.
May you en-joy sights of holy ground as we lean into this green and growing season.

"For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the dove is heard in our land."  

Song of Songs 2:11-12

April is Poetry Month. I am delighted to welcome Carol Steel to the Prayer Bench. Carol is a New Brunswick poet, living in Riverview. She generously shares the story of her passion for writing poetry, and two poems with us.

What prompted you to begin writing poetry?

I’ve loved poetry all my life but never felt capable of writing good poetry, so I didn’t even try. Six years ago, lying in a trauma unit, I heard two nurses saying they didn’t think I’d make it. Through my stupor, this thought came, “But, I haven’t written any poems.” When I recovered, I began to write poetry, wrote it badly, but I began. I continue to learn and to improve. Writing poetry is hard work, but I need to do it. Something inside me needs to write poems.

How does a poem begin for you?

A poem begins in silence, in alone time, is piqued by sensory impressions - often from the earth …. a robin song, a dangling spider, pansies in bloom, fragrance of lavender or a maplewood fire, a blueberry squirting juice in my mouth, sweet stickiness of maple candy on snow, spruce needles on my fingertips, waves tumbling on a pebbled beach, dark nights full of star spark, tang of salt air, musk of river marsh, chipmunks scolding from a rock wall. John O’Donohue says, “Senses are sacred thresholds.” This rings true for me and is the place my poems begin.

What are some of the ways your poems have made their way into the world?

I began sharing poems on my blog, most were not very good. I’ve left them there because I want to go back and see how much progress I’ve made, what I’ve learned. I leave them also because it’s important for anyone reading my blog to know that sometimes you have to begin where you are and find ways to learn how to do what you need and want to do. A messy process.

Now, since I’m beginning to have poems published in library journals (Galleon, The Nashwask Review, the Antigonish Review) I am reluctant to post my newer poems. They are considered to have been published if they have been posted on the internet, and that makes them ineligible for literary journals.

You’ve chosen two poems to share.

The Orb Weaver is about delight where there is often revulsion. (Published in The Nashwask Review.)

The wisteria twines
under the eave,
with clusters of lavender,
and a dangling golden
garden spider.
Skilled as the wisteria
at claiming space,
she weaves her lust
into nets of light. 

The Late Season is about aging, the journey we all make. (Published in Galleon III)

At the edge of the field,
wild asters wither.
Goldenrod and
yellowed grasses
bend seed heads
to the soil.

Brazen colours burst
reveal brown silhouettes.
Darkness shrivels the days.

The chickadee flits
to the feeder,
takes one seed
at a time.

In the end, for me, writing poetry is about being who I am, finally, after all these years; about wanting what nourishes me and having the courage to fail and fail again to learn. It is deeply satisfying - feels like where I belong. 

  • What passion lays curled in you, longing for expression?
  • How might you 'claim space' this week to nourish your true self?
  • With new life rising, how might your senses help you "celebrate the universe and the mystery and possibilities of your presence here." (O'Donohue, Blessing for the Senses in Anamcara.)

Stroll for Your Soul, the Spring Email Program begins with a Welcome Email on April 27th. Here is a sample email you will receive.

Settle by taking a few deep breaths, stretching, or practicing your body prayer. 


“Finding ourselves in a world of beauty and mystery,
of living things, diverse and interdependent,
of complex patterns of growth and evolution,
of subatomic particles and cosmic swirls,
we sing of God the Creator,
the Maker and Source of all that is.”  

The Song of Faith

Swirls. Cosmic swirls. How many swirls will you notice? Water in a brook? Bark on a tree?

You might want to take a camera today and receive a picture that speaks to the beauty you notice around you. Beauty brings us into the Presence of the Sacred.

Now go STROLL for Your Soul

RESPOND: In your Earth journal, you might want to write about what you noticed, draw a mandala, or spend time with a photograph.

There are Stroll groups in at least six provinces. The Rev. Kathy Platt in Regina signed up 15 from the congregation. They will meet once a week to walk around a local lake and chat as they walk about whatever the e-mails have sparked for them.

Stroll has been given as a birthday gift; a mother and 12 year old daughter plan to Stroll together and a sister signed up her five sisters from across the country so they can virtually Stroll together.

There is more information below about Stroll, the 21 day E-mail program that invites us to make a habit of mindful walking, and invites us to share in our Universe Story.

Stroll for Your Soul
begins April 27th

Spring Email Program

Stroll (or Roll) for Your Soul offers 21 days of accompaniment with a brief email delivered early each morning to your inbox.

What you receive:

  • A Welcome e-mail with suggestions for getting the most out of Stroll;
  • 21 e-mails to guide your daily Stroll;
  • A place on my website to share your sightings, thoughts or photos every four days (if you wish.)
  • An e-mail Gift Certificate to announce your gift for a friend.


Subscribe to STROLL 
Individual or Group Subscription

For more information about an individual subscription ($15), or use the coupon word "friend" to walk with a friend for $8 each.  More here.

Group subscription for $50. Any size group. Sign up your congregation or organization.  
More here.

Know you can visit the Prayer Bench Shop and opt to pay by cheque or using Pay Pal or your own credit card through Pay Pal. Or you are welcome to send me an Email and I'll register you.
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