Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mormon Poet Emma Lou Thayne: On Going Away

My spiritual life withers in too much togetherness,
just as it thrives in quiet.
I traveled with my husband and family and with tennis players and members of boards. I spoke to groups across the country, always to be met and taken care of. My life was full. And I was dying. In all my busyness, something was missing that I could not name.

When I was accepted for a poetry symposium in Port Townsend, Wash., with some persuasion, my husband agreed. There, just an anonymous one of dozens of poets, living in a sparse single room in an old barracks, I learned to find space to pay a different kind of attention. I had time to focus on details and moments, not generalities. I had time to reexamine, to revise, to reinvent my sense of the world. And it was joyous fun! On the saltwater shores of Puget Sound, I learned to breathe in the "full measure of my creation."

Knowing is a process, not an arrival. Coming home, I struggled with how to be available to the many and the much I love and still be true to myself and to what solitude had offered me. The clarity of what I had learned pushed me to find spaces to be alone. I rented a little studio close to home to go to one day and night a week. I was accepted by writing retreats in Virginia, Illinois and Florida that were sponsored and inexpensive enough that I felt guiltless about going. I accepted offers from friends to visit their unused places. My family adjusted to my absences and learned that spaces in our togetherness made room for more relished time together. And I claimed the space to be all I can be.
Read the full article at the Huffington Post to find out what Emma Lou Thayne has to say about staying up all night!

More about Emma Lou Thayne:
Mormon Literature Database
A Woman of Gentle Strength
Emma Lou Thayne - Alive Again


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