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For the past few months I’ve been teaching myself Celtic-style music on the mandolin and violin (I mean, um, fiddle). The music has awakened some kind of energy in me that I haven’t felt in awhile. Just yesterday I stole away in a church hallway before rehearsal and fiddled some jigs and hornpipes from memory. I felt so free and at home, as if entering a doorway into a room I’ve had my whole life but just recently discovered.

I know with time, however, my playing will get worse. Technically, it will improve with practice. But the more I learn about Celtic music, the more I will discern my own limitations and create higher standards for myself. This process needs to happen, of course, but will I still be able to love the music in the same way I do now?

Flash back 18 years. (Really??) It’s my first college poetry class, and I’m all enthusiasm. While I had always been a decent writer, I was refreshingly ignorant of poetry. (I had planned on becoming a playwright–not that I knew a whole lot about that, either!) This was before my eyes were opened to the world of rejection slips, book publication, and conferences where guys in elbow patches give talks about “Line Breaks and Post-Modern Gender Politics.” I just loved playing with words. I distinctly remember the first line of my first poem for that class. We were to write a blessing or a curse. My choice: a curse on fleas. The line: “Oh, black bug of borrowed blood.”

I repeated that line so much, and still remember it to this day, because it was simply a kick to say. Corny, yes, but what fun! I’m trying to get that original energy back into my writing. One way is by “collecting words” and playing around with them. (See the book Poemcrazy for ideas.) The other is procrastinating by writing a blog about poetry.

We are reminded in the Bible to have the faith of a child. Not a naive or ignorant faith, but a faith full of energy (think kids), wonder, and delight. I think the creative life and the spiritual life work in concord in this way. So this week I ask, Lord, please refresh my wonder in you. And rekindle my wonder in words.

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