The following poem was inspired by some aspects of my morning preparation for work:
In the faint glow of the day’s beginning
Around the floor I tiptoe away
To gather my belongings
As I head off for work today.
Two darling children lie sleeping
After a busy day caught in the storm,
And I do not wish to disturb their sleep
As I go along my way.
And so before I head to work
I think as I mind my feet,
“My peace I give to you,
May it serve you better than it has served me.”
As I drive along the highway
The friendly sun has shown its face
And it hangs in my left-hand mirror
While I drive in my race.
And it strikes me that this golden orb
Is a messenger sent to me
From my Father above,
Who has a message for me to see.
So I smile at the sun in my mirror,
And to me it seems to say,
“My peace I give to you,
May you have a glorious day.”
And so I thought to send to all
Who would read what I write,
Who wrestle in their lonely way
Against the terrors of the night,
Who struggle in the storms of life,
Where I always seem to be,
Who wrestle with life’s difficult course
As their river flows to the sea.
A message I send to you,
Wherever you may be,
“My peace I give to you,
May you send yours back to me.”
As is my custom, I would like to discuss and analyze this poem from the point of the view of its poet, to describe the way that this poem came together and some of the aspects of what I was thinking about as I wrote it. The initial genesis of the poem came about as I was getting ready for work, having to delicately tiptoe around the living room of the place where I am staying for a couple of weeks because some of my host’s relatives were sleeping peacefully after staying up late to help greet my mother at the airport. Not wishing to wake them or disrupt their sleep at all, I had to carefully move to get my side bag and put on my shoes, as the bag in particular was very close to where one of the girls was sleeping. Being someone whose sleep has often been disturbed, it is a matter of considerable sensitivity, and since I am often in a poetic mood at the beginning of the day to begin with, the fact that my beginning of the day required such silence and such delicate care made it an easy image to affix as I wished the sleepers a pleasant and peaceful time as I went about my business.
On the way to work, my car’s gas tank showed me as having a quarter of a tank left, so I stopped at a station on the way to work. This particular station had cartoon cars on it advertising their particular brand of gasoline, and it reminded me of how human beings tend to relentlessly anthropomorphize everything around us, making everything in our own image to make the world more friendly and less threatening. As this is a major interest of mine, I found it easy to anthropomorphize the sun as it hung for several seconds in my driver’s side mirror while on the freeway, as if it was trying to get my attention to wave hello to greet the brand new day. Being someone who likes affectionate greetings (and farewells), and someone who tends to find both the early morning and late evening sun to be easier to deal with than the harsh glare of the sun in the middle of the day, it was easy to see the pleasant and friendly, if insistent, image of the bright orange yellow sun in my window as a reminder that the day was greeting me, and wanting to make sure that I would have a good one. It is the sentiment I appreciate, given the frequent anxiety and unwanted solitude of my existence.
Given that the sun had greeted me, and that the previous image that had moved me was a silent prayer to bless two sleeping young people, it followed naturally to complete the poem by sending a blessing to the reader of the poem. As someone who tends to struggle and wrestle often in life, it struck me as appropriate to transition from the blessing of a beautiful and peaceful morning to a wish for peace for others as well, a reminder that no matter what difficulties are present in life that we have with others, that I wish for peace with others, and I wish for them to have the same sort of concern and fondness for me. The peace I have in mind here is not merely the absence of conflict, but it is the fullness of the Hebrew term “shalom,” meaning peace as wholeness and harmony and wellness, a wish that this would be present in my life, as well as others. Although it is impossible to communicate this wish to all people, I wished at least to put it in a place where those who read what I write, whether now or in the future, would have a record of my wish for good things for all, for life is hard enough on its own that we do not need to make it more difficult for others by being hard-hearted towards our brothers and sisters, our friends and neighbors, and even strangers and enemies.
I tend to think of my writing the way an impressionistic painter takes something striking in reality and conveys it vividly but somewhat quickly. At times it is people that catch my attention, sometimes it is a particularly arresting sight, like the sun remaining in the mirror of my car, sometimes it is an idea, or a principle, or a belief. Often it is the relationship between these matters that draws attention, the connection between different facets of existence that crystallize these various observations into more formal conclusions or more creative works of literature such as my poetry. Once, however, any writing has come into existence out of a chain of arguments, or out of the sketching of impressionistic writing, and once it passes beyond the solitary view of its creator to a more public existence, then it remains for others to read and interpret them, to find layers not intended by the author, to draw personal application, to judge for style (or lack thereof), and to either appreciate, to appropriate, or to ignore once encountered. But all a writer can do is write, and to cast out that writing into a place where it can be seen. The rest depends on transmission, on providence, and on its ability to convey feelings and thoughts to others who are able to think and feel and communicate in turn.