BY JONI TAKANIKOS
June 6, 2014
We are all seekers of one kind or another. Some find their answers in church or the Sunday Times, or perhaps both. We may climb a mountain, walk a beach, or maybe get lost in a rich and compelling novel. Sometimes we may seek out an oracle to point us in the right direction like a spiritual compass.
Poetry has held both the questions and the answers for most of my life—my comfort and balm, my celebration of life and its Terrible Beauty. Years ago I was in a poetry workshop that had a focus on putting together a book of poems. Many students had anxiety about just how to order their manuscripts and felt certain there must be a “right” way to go about it.
The first thing our instructor said was, “How many of you read a book of poetry from the first poem to the last? And how many of us usually pick up a book of poetry and open to a page at random?” Sighs of relief were heard throughout the room, and poets know how to sigh; trust me on that.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t put great care and thought into the content and ordered nuances of our poetry manuscripts, or our lives for that matter, but we should be ready to jump to any page when called. That is how I call the oracle into being, with a dose of faith and intention, and then I leap. I think of the particular issue, person or relationship, or I just leave it open to receiving whatever message wants to come through, and I grab a book of poetry off the shelf.
Of course this may lead you to other oracles. You may have the urge to close your eyes, open one of those huge voluminous dictionaries that sit on oak stands and let your index finger be guided to a place on the page. And then—abracadabra, you have a message for your day. But be forewarned; this engagement of the oracle leads to cloud gazing, star watching, moon bathing and lying under giant maples without practically a thought in your head, the answers all lodged in the scattered sunlightdancing its way through the maple leaves.
Here on Whidbey you can find oracles around every bend—in the beauty of the beaches and forests or the lovely Whidbey Island Garden Tour later this month. (Peonies and some iris are notorious for giving the answers to questions you never knew you had.)
If you are in need of a companion book of poetry to take with you on your excursion, you could peruse one of three lovely bookstores in Langley. And in one of them—South Whidbey Commons Coffeehouse Bookstore—a local non-profit that trains young adults to be baristas—you could sit and sip some tea or coffee, leaning in towards the poem that might translate your heart for a moment.
I believe there are signs and signals everywhere if you look for them. One of my dearest friends told me that once, as her Grandma waited in the car while they were shopping at the market, she counted all the people who were smiling as they walked past. She said it was remarkable how many smiling faces she saw among the passersby. But then, she had her eye out for them.
Early Evening in Late Spring
Ten geese flew over in the late afternoon.
Raucous honks announced their flight,
Their tight formation loosened as they
crested toward the edge of the lagoon
stretching to become the sea,
and some part of me traveled with them,
broadly voicing my own arrival
and departure, all at once.
Joni Takanikos will be singing from 8 to 9 p.m. this Saturday, June 7 at the Thrive Vegan Cafe in Freeland, inaugurating their new outdoor stage. She knows the oracle will be there, and she hopes to catch a glimpse of the Truth and Beauty offered up freely for all of us.
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