Poetry and Evangelization

haiku

For those of you who know me, you know that I’m something of an artist. Music, theatre, visual arts are all a major source of inspiration for me and I participate in or create artistic experiences as regularly as possible. It is certainly a vocation for me – to live out a call to connect with my fellow human, and in that communion also connect with OUR Creator….

I experienced this again, in a new way, this past Saturday while helping to facilitate a participatory art event, called Figment, on Governor’s Island in NYC with my dear friend Caley, who’s non-profit public art endeavor, Guerrilla Haiku Movement, was installed.

Haiku, if you remember from your grade school days, is a short, un-rhymed, three-line poem; the first line containing FIVE syllables, the second, SEVEN, and the third, FIVE.

Our goal for the day was to invite visitors to the island to write a haiku, in CHALK, along the pavement, or on pieces of paper that we displayed on clothesline. It could be about anything, or nothing at all. As you can imagine, some folks were complete RED LIGHTS, and didn’t want to have anything to do with us. Some allowed us to convince them, and were intrigued. The children were the most easily convinced – some needed no convincing! The toughest seem to be teenage boys. But I got one! At first he wanted nothing to do with me. Apparently he was “illiterate”. This is what he wrote:

Governor’s Island
Having some fun in the sun
Each day a blessing

There’s no judgment on what you create, even if it doesn’t always follow the 5-7-5 rule. It’s always thoughtful and honest, sometimes humorous (like the couple who really needed the bathroom), and often quite PROFOUND (like Lucas’ above)!

The overall goal of GHM is simple – JOY and CONNECTION. It is relevant to those of us who have or continue to do evangelization in the world – specifically for those who do the Emmanuel School of Mission or who engage in any type of parish or community Mission setting.

I’ve known Caley for over six years now, and have done GHM with her on numerous occasions. We met doing Shakespeare in New Hampshire and we immediately became friends. She’s got an infectious spirit and drive, and is so full of life and joy, it kind of smacks you upside the head and makes you get out of whatever funk you might have been in.

So this news/musing is a bit of testimony too I guess. I started my day on Saturday with only four decent hours of sleep because of my baby’s sleep patterns, trudging through the cold rain, with no umbrella, wearing shorts because I didn’t pay attention to the weather forecast. I wanted to crawl back into bed, but I’d made a commitment to be there. Everything was annoying me. There were so many people and everyone seemed so artistically earnest and over-the-top. It just rubbed me the wrong way.

But then we started haikuing.

My stony, cold heart melted…and despite the folks who passed us by:

we made connections
however fleeting it was
which left a deep mark

Actually, the only haiku I personally wrote that day was a reflection on how profound the experience always is for me. It was inspired by the thirty-something year old guy sitting on a wall counting out syllables in his head, then grabbing the chalk to write.

Watching wheels turn
Thoughts become indelible
Inspirational

I wanted to invite our brothers and sisters, especially those specifically devoted to evangelization, to explore GHM as a means to outreach, conversation, and connection with the souls we encounter. We can use this to open pathways to reach people. And it is JOY!

I’m happy to answer any questions, or help teach it to anyone interested in using GHM in this way.

You can check out pictures of the event this past weekend on Flickr if you’d like too!

Peace & Joy,

Michelle (NY)

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *