This Wakefield scene shows us a provocative contrast between two ways of imagining the inner life of any person’s soul. Sometimes we feel churned up, or even seething. At other times, a lovely calm clarity runs through our inner world, and reveals our potential for containing tranquillity. On this footing we can show others how the world might appear in that condition.
Perhaps we more often have an opportunity to move from the turbulent to the calm than we realise. Franciscan poet Jacopone da Todi regarded our awareness of these formative moments as the key to a faith-based personality.
“We were a mighty host, encamped on the heights,
But the waters of the flood have risen and covered us,
And taken from us the power to pray,
Which alone could keep us afloat and heal our wounds.” (Laud 30).
The power to pray consists to a remarkable degree in the ability to welcome calm into our lives, to become attuned to the Spirit who provides calm, and to begin to acknowledge those areas of wounded memory within us where healing is needed.
Jacopone had a troubled life, beginning with the sudden death of his young wife in an accident. But God was speaking to others very often through his poetry, bringing hope and sincerity where before there had often been only pomposity, cravings for luxury, and abuses of power. We could try to nurture the moments of poetic calm in the course of a week, to let healing begin.