Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dream Job by Sheila Bender

I was reading a magnificent book this past week and came across the essay below. I gasped when I read it because it's my dream job, too, just like the author's! I could have written this myself, but she did such an amazing job of it, I'm posting her essay. I love Sheila Bender's writing and this book in particular which I highly recommend: "Writing Personal Essays: How to Shape Your Life Experiences for the Page". It's helped me a lot in my writing of my memoirs. I'm trying to get down the important stuff for my children and grandchildren and this book has been a huge inspiration and aid. I hope you all have a blessed day and a wonderful, peaceful weekend. Blessings! ~*~Marion~*~

Dream Job: A Day in the Life of a Resident Poet
By Sheila Bender

"I was reminded of a dream….I had years ago. In it, I’d hung a shingle outside my house. Sheila Bender, R.P., it said in black calligraphic letters on a white board. R. P. meant Resident Poet. On the second story of my house, at my desk under the eaves, I would work on my poetry. The many books of poems I knew and loved would surround me on shelves. From time to time I’d hear my doorbell ring.

I’d descend the stairs and let the person in. We would enter my writing room and sit at a small table and have tea. The caller would describe why he or she had come to see me. It might be the grief of losing someone dear, the uncertainty of parenting, the concentration-breaking joy of newfound love, the awkwardness of wanting to talk to an old lover, the loneliness of perceiving differently than one’s family. I would go to my bookshelves, my pharmacy of poems, and I would pull a book down, open it to where I knew the right poem lay. I’d watch my caller read the poem and, watching the muscles of his or her face, I would know the poem was right. I would hand my client a pen and sheets of paper with instructions to copy the poem and the author’s name from the book, word for word. After that, we’d read the work together once and sit a moment more.

My caller would take the poem home to memorize. To whisper at night, to belt out under the sun, to recite while driving. Poems require looking past anger and hate and irritation, loneliness and grief. Though many a poem is planted in the soil of such emotions, a poem bursts through that soil and flowers. It is, to paraphrase William Wordsworth, one person’s insides speaking to another’s and so it provides the intimate contact we need for healing and for growth, for knowing what is human in our lives.

There are feelings and longings we understand and accept in ourselves only when we recognize them in someone else’s words, words that would never have been ours to speak until we saw them written out of someone else’s life. Words come from another’s experience in a place and in a time that miraculously match our experience in our own place and time.

As my callers would leave, they would place payment in a white porcelain bowl on the post at the bottom of my staircase. With the money, I’d buy more poetry books and the time to read them."

~Sheila Bender, “Writing Personal Essays: How to Shape Your Life Experiences for the Page”, page 154

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;

O Divine Master, grant that
I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


Kelly said...

Definitely your dream job, Marion!!!

Love the picture. :)

We were teased with a rainless day yesterday, but it came back in full force this morning!! Took the power with it for a short time, too. *sigh* We're either gonna sprout, mold, or wash away!!

Phoenix said...

Great picture! That job description sounds beautiful...and so badly needed these days when many times, words and emotions fail us and we look to poetry to fill in our emptiness.

And I love The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi! My best friend let me read it at her wedding because she knew it's one of my favorite prayers.

Have a lovely Thursday!

Marion said...

Thanks, Kelly. It tickled me pink that Ms. Bender thinks exactly like I do!! We saw sunshine this morning, but it's slowly disappearing as I type! It's HOT here. I just got back from the post office and was sweating bullets. Hope you get some sunshine really soon! Blessings!

Phoneix, what a beautiful prayer to read at a wedding! Yes, people need poetry and don't even know that's what they need until they read it. Poetry is spirit medicine, stronger than any pill. Thanks for stopping by! Blessings!

Wine and Words said...

Hey, where's my comment? I was first darn it. Did you delete me? Did I get lost? Did I imagine it?

Marion said...

I promise I didn't delete you this time, Annie! I'm being extra careful with my trigger finger. We've been having gremlins with each others' blog comments. Hmmmmm.....

Renee said...

One of the most beautiful prayers in the whole world.

Now see your stone cat, I am built like that.


Marion said...

Oh, Renee! You crack me up, you silly girl. I'm glad you dropped by, my little hobbit friend. ;-) Love, Hugs & Blessings!!!!!

Rikkij said...

Marion-Hi, Friend. I certainly would have believed you wrote that had you said so. Lovely really, as is the pic. You look really good in glases with big ass bike behind ya. Have a good weekend. ~rick

Woman in a Window said...

Marion, is that you? I scrolled down and I can't make a match to the pictures in your sidebar. So strange, isn't it, how fluid we are even in our physicality? Beautiful either way, you are.

People get paid to write? WHAT? I thought that was an urban legend! (I'm away for a bit...not forgetting you.)

Karen said...

This is one of my favorite prayers; we sing it quite frequently at my church to a lovely tune.

Great meditation on poetry, too. It IS our insides speaking to someone else's and our recognition of ourselves when we find these in others.

Great picture. We finally see your whole pretty face!

I want that cat.

Marion said...

Thank you, everyone, for your kind comments. Blessings!

Judith Ellis said...

Oh, how I love that prayer. It's my heart's desire. Thanks for posting it.

Marion said...

Thank you, Judith, and God bless you, my friend!!