My Favorite Poem From my New Book

Drawing from my son Aaron, circa 1981

What My Grandkids Will Say About Me on Oprah

When my grandkids talk to Oprah
    about their Nana, the famous writer,
they will say words were my oxygen–
    to read, to write, to share,
and that I spent way too much money
    at Thrift Stores on books by dead authors–
Emily Dickinson, George Herbert, LM Montgomery
    and Keats.

They will also tell her I loved to sing–
    another form of breathing–
and how I embarrassed them in public
    by belting out the “Tomorrow” song from Annie
or grabbing their elbows in the mall
    while shouting “We’re off to see the Wizard!”

They will announce to the world,
    in front of God and everybody,
that my profession as a teacher was their   
    greatest undoing;
constantly coaching them about penmanship,
the correct formation of the letter “a”
    or while reading, pointing out misread syllables in
    a favorite text.

They will oblige Ms. O’s prodding by adding the death 
    knell~
that I couldn’t help myself when it came to learning,
    revealing in hushed tones I often resorted
    to using an encyclopedia as torture 
    (the 1956 World Book edition).

My grandchildren will remind her, however,
    (before the commercial break)
my best qualities were the way I delighted in the world,
    showing them wonders in the garden,
surprises in the grass, the avian miracles of
    chickadees and juncos in the branches 
    or robins in the birdbath.

Most of all, when my grandkids talk to Oprah,
    they will tell her my lungs longed for the breath of
    Heaven, the Word, and how its oxygen proved
    my greatest life support throughout my livelong days.

Tell me friends, if you have grandchildren, what would they tell Oprah how about your life? I would love to hear in the comments.

Also, you can get a copy of my new book by clicking on this link HERE. 

And if you think a friend would enjoy this poem, you can click on the Share buttons below. Thanks!

Hearts on Pilgrimage-Poems & Prayers is HERE!

Available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or from your independent bookseller.

Hey Dear Readers–rejoice with me?

Almost nine months to the day since I began paying attention to the nudge from God to publish my poetry, Hearts on Pilgrimage-Poems & Prayers has been officially birthed into the world. As a self-published author, one never knows what surprises await and – ta da! – here’s my book ahead of time. (I originally chose Jan. 26th as Book Day, but what do you know? It’s an 11th Day of Christmas gift.

I do hope you’ll consider buying a copy for yourself, especially if you’ve thought, “I don’t like poetry,” or “I don’t get poetry.” The poems are anchored in creation and the every day and will point readers to beauty and the wisdom of paying attention.

PRAISE FOR “HEARTS ON PILGRIMAGE-POEMS & PRAYERS”

“I recommend reading Hearts on Pilgrimage under an open sky, accompanied by a warm cup of tea. These poems ring with the joy of nature and the sweetness to be found in the ordinary moment. As Jody Collins says in the preface, “Annual cycles of our physical world also mirror our interior lives,” a point well made herein. A teacher-poet, Jody’s poems teach us to see, to hear—to notice our lives, and let the simple gifts arriving in each common moment move us to a place of praise and intimacy with God.” ~Laura Boggess, author of Playdates with God: Having a Childlike Faith in a Grown-up World and Waiting for Neruda’s Memoirs

“Collins work is deliberate, her cadence soothing. As I read, I find myself taking in deeper breaths and sighing, everything slowing around me. ‘Bring the wind of your spirit and build anew,’ she writes. Indeed. Except here the spirit arrives on the wind of her words, and I can feel something new building inside of me.”     ~Shawn Smucker, author of Light from Distant Stars

“In Hearts on Pilgrimage, poet Jody Collins pays detailed attention to our world and the language we use to describe it. At times playful, always articulate, Collins skillfully weaves poems exploring the overlap of our internal and external worlds of awareness and observation. Full of questions and patient listening, Collins writes our hearts toward home with words that “fly, lunar-drawn, to the sky.” ~Kelly Chripczuk, Author/Speaker at thiscontemplativelife.org. 

 “In Hearts on Pilgrimage, Jody Collins takes her readers on a journey of delight and discovery.  Each deftly rendered image – from doing dishes in the dark to listening to birdsong – paints a portrait of the mysteries that lay just beyond our reach.  Full of warmth and insight, Collins’ poems invite you to take a seat at the table, drink deeply of everyday moments, and enter the presence of God.”   ~Laura Kauffman, author of Carolina Clay: A Collection of Poems on Love and Loss

The poems of Hearts on Pilgrimage find the sacred in the everyday — a spider’s web, the music of the wind, the pattern in the sky, a flower in a field. But Collins does more: she sees, with a poet’s eye, the everyday holiness of the image in an ultrasound, the voice of a grandchild, and the natural process of aging. The collection is an exercise in startling stillness.” ~Glynn Young, contributing editor at Tweetspeak Poetry and author of the five Dancing Priest novels and Poetry at Work

“In her newest release, Hearts on Pilgrimage – Poems & Prayers, Jody Collins offers readers a beautifully crafted and artfully organized collection. This work invites readers onto the page as pilgrims on a seasonal journey of becoming aware, of both God’s presence and His created beauty. Collins’ poems and prayers come from an earthy richness, born from the soil of profoundly personal storytelling as she unearths the world around her. Each work meets us in our own humanity as co-sojourners, where poems are readable, relatable and approachable in their crafting. Well-written and well-timed in its release into the world, Hearts on Pilgrimage is the perfect antidote for the world of 2020 and beyond; for it is a book of hope.” ~Elizabeth Marshall, writer at elizabethmarshall.com.

“In Hearts on Pilgrimage-Poems & Prayers, Jody Collins delights in things most of us take for granted—the ruby postscript of a raspberry, the honeyed breeze of dawn, and chip-clacking juncos. She ponders single pantry ingredients shelved in the dark—safe but isolated. Collins carves her heart on and houses hope in these pages, inviting us to find our own balance in beauty and to seek God’s presence in every season. ~Sandra Heska King, Community Care & Social Media at Tweetspeak Poetry, Photographer/Writer at sandraheskaking.com

“Collins had me at the word, “Pilgrimage.”  Wrapped in the certain rhythm of seasons, she lends us her eyes to see the wonder and everyday beauty of dishes in the dark or a baby bird’s first solo flight. Whatever season you’re in, Jody’s soulful words in Hearts on Pilgrimage-Poems & Prayers will meet you with comfort, hope, and joy for your journey. ~Kim Hyland, author of The Imperfect Woman: Letting Go of the Need to Have it All Together, founder Winsome Retreat.” 

Original watercolor for cover by the gifted Laura Winslow

Publishing a book of poetry, noticing the good, true, and beautiful, seems a fruitless endeavor in the midst of the world’s current challenges and heartache. But we will always have trouble and sorrow with us. While we live in a fallen world, we live with a risen Savior, and God’s invisible Kingdom is there for us to see if we are looking. 

As you read this work through the year or match it to your current season, I pray you will find an echo of our Creator’s voice while walking your own path. There is much to behold, and I look forward to pointing the way, showing you what I see and hear. Then I hope you’ll find time to jot your own poetic thoughts in the margins.

We are all on pilgrimage. Come walk with me? 

You can order SIGNED COPIES of “Hearts on Pilgrimage” directly from me for $12.50 (incl. postage) Click on the envelope icon above my photo on the right to send me an email and I’ll have a copy on its way.

Or order your copy today by clicking HERE.

 

It’s Almost Here–Hearts on Pilgrimage-Poems & Prayers

It’s the fourth day of Christmas and I’m sitting at my dining table while shadows play on the Advent wreath and the dishwasher hums.

The post-holiday lull has begun, that in-between time where memories of enjoying my family’s company, complete with six noisy grandkids, partner with a looking-forward frame of mind to a new year and a new book.

Hearts on Pilgrimage-Poems & Prayers is allllmoooost finished; the final touches are being added to the cover and I am working on the electronic download of the book as well.  Since I’m self-publishing the process is a little nerve-wracking as all the details of content, design and cover are up to me (and a remarkable design gal for who I am eternally grateful.) Come mid-January we should be ready to launch. I so look forward to having some poetic inspiration available and in readers’ hands soon. The book will be available on Amazon and orderable wherever books are sold.

If you’d like be one of the first to receive an announcement of the book’s release, just click HERE.

In the meantime, may I offer you the title poem?

Pilgrimage

Since I am coming to that holy room…

            I shall be made thy music. -John Donne

Our journey home begins

daily with the sun. And a map.

Oriented by true north, that

compass which magnets

us in subtle, insistent ways, we move.

Deep and invisible, His song draws

us on as we come ’round again

in a thousand turns to the sound

of that voice.

We are Peregrinus, pilgrims

wandering place to place,

straining for an echo of melody,

words to a song we forgot we knew.

Forever we crease and fold our maps,

spilling tea as we travel, stain and blur

lines as we learn the way.

We look up. Scan the signs,

slow down, take note.

*****

No. Not a map, a musical score,

vellum notes traced over time

played on heart’s harp, tuning

our ears ever more finely to the

pitch, not of His voice, but His tent,

that dwelling place where we finally

meno with Him. Home at last.

We Interrupt your Holiday Preparations With a “Hearts on Pilgrimage” Book Update

To new followers here–Welcome! And for those faithful readers & friends–an update:
Anyone who’s decided to write, edit or release a book in the last nine months of #lifeinthetimeofcorona might be considered misguided, but that’s exactly what I’ve been up to. My book of poetry--Hearts on Pilgrimage-Poems & Prayers–will, God willing, be released at the end of January 2021. Publishing a book of poetry, with an eye on the beauty of Creation and leaning towards God seems a fruitless endeavor in the midst of the current challenges and heartache. But we will always have trouble and sorrow with us; who couldn’t use more beauty and goodness right about now-ish? ⁣
Exactly. ⁣

When I began the draft of Hearts on Pilgrimage it was early Spring 2020, which is the season when life came to a slow and completely weird halt for all of us. (Side note: that seems like y e a r s ago, doesn’t it?) I will never look at Spring the same way again, but I am hopeful. And that is the purpose of Spring—God’s eternal message that new life will come from what seems lifeless and gone.

I have been humbled by responses from early readers who have endorsed the work in glowing terms, for which I give God the praise. It’s such a gift when people “get” your work and the intent shines through. Here’s a thought from friend Glynn Young.


I hope you’ll keep your eyes open for my little book when it releases into the wild. The early book launch campaign will begin soon in the middle of the Christmas season–I do hope you’ll consider sharing about H o P when you see a graphic go by. Who couldn’t use the gift of poetry in the coming year?

Until next time~

Jody

If you want to find out more about the process and background of Hearts on Pilgrimage, you can read that HERE.
Note: This is a draft of the book cover featuring the beautiful artwork of watercolor artist Laura Winslow. 

Hearts on Pilgrimage-Poems & Prayers-My Upcoming Book

Dearest Readers, thank you so very much for your blessed response to  launching my new book into the world. January will be here before we know it; until then, we will walk out all the days God gives us one at a time. They are truly in His hands. Below you will find the Preface to give you an idea what’s in store in the pages of Hearts on Pilgrimage. If you’d like to join the Launch Team, the application is HERE.** 

The Path

When I said my initial yes to Jesus over 40 years ago, I found poet Luci Shaw’s first book, Listen to the Green and was overcome with the perhapses and possibilities of being a poet. I am adept at saying way more than is needed to communicate a point. What would happen, I wondered, if I intentionally pared down my words to say more with less? Listen to the Green was the inspiration and beginning of my journey into poetry.

I managed to scribble random lines, gathering thoughts in the margins of my days between chasing children and teaching school. Most of it was very bad “poetry,” but it was a start. As I chose to grow and learn, I invested in an informal education, “the school of 3,000 books,” as poet Barbara Crooker would say. The volume you now hold in your hands is the fruit of that learning, a culmination of inspiration and encouragement from poets I’ve had the pleasure of reading and learning from along the way– Laurie Klein, Scott Cairns, Malcolm Guite, Luci Shaw and many others.

The Process

When I began the draft of Hearts on Pilgrimage it was early Spring 2020.  I had been approached by a friend about placing my poems in her care for their possible publication. After a time of waiting and listening, the work landed back in my lap while our collective lives were put on permanent pause by the entry of a disruptive and devastating virus. Life in the time of corona has wreaked havoc on life as we know it. Knew it. But if we are listening, there are lessons still to learn about what we have lost.

I will never look at Spring the same way again, but I am hopeful. And that is the purpose of Spring–God’s eternal message that new life will come from what seems lifeless and gone. Winter’s barrenness provides a Creation backdrop that speaks to God’s presence in the middle of life when everything has been stripped away, and no year illustrates that more than this one.

I’m Writing Another Book! Help Me Tell the World?

First of all, hello to new subscribers and welcome! I’m glad you’re here.

By now you all know I write a bit of poetry…. much of it has been published here on my website but I have had the honor of seeing my work in print and in other places here on the web over the years I’ve been writing.

Have you ever noticed when you have a conversation about poetry, the usual response is, “I just don’t get poetry,” as if there was some secret, codified way that words arranged themselves and only an initiated, select group of people can really understand it. Hence, not many folks read poetry.

I’m here to change that with my new book, “Hearts on Pilgrimage.”

In the beginning of this year I started gathering poems into a manuscript with the goal of self-publishing them. After I had my first draft ready, I sent the collection off to an Editor. Many, many months later….thanks to covid-19 delays and whatnot, I am now on to second edits and will be sending her back my revisions soon. The Preface is practically perfect, I’ve chosen a cover from a lovely watercolor by Laura Winslow(above) and the next step is to reach out to a book designer and write The Acknowledgments.

A Little About the Poems (from The Preface)

The title “Hearts on Pilgrimage” came from a poem by George Herbert  and this passage, which had been rolling around in my head for many years. The poems sort of organized themselves around the theme of a journey through the seasons of the year, much like our lives. I was thrilled to see there was a guiding framework that echoed throughout the work. Beginning with Winter and moving through Spring into Summer and Fall, the book reflects the circle of seasons in the church calendar as well.

The poems are mostly pastoral in nature and I write a good deal about nature, birds, my garden, the way light lands on my kitchen counter or the quiet mornings of coffee in the kitchen. I also deal with the difficulties of death and loss through the lens of God’s faithfulness and presence. It’s important to pay attention to beauty, notice the sky and birds and the trees, the reflection in a puddle, the sound of water–all the ways that God speaks to us without words.

As to form, most of the poems in “Hearts on Pilgrimage” are free verse, but I also play with rhyme and meter a bit, which was a delight to try. George MacDonald’s offerings in Diary of an Old Soul provide inspiration for the cycle of five seven-line poems included. There are also a few sonnets, written in a very loose form, patterning my attempts after others whose work I admire. Initially intimidated by the constraints of the pattern, I was surprised at the freedom provided in writing within prescribed boundaries.

Readers can peruse the work through the year as it is written, or match it to the season they find themselves in currently (literal or figurative.) My prayer for the book is not only that people learn to fall in love with poetry for the first time, but also that they would find an echo of our Creator’s voice as they journey on their own path.

Publishing a book of poetry in this current decade, noticing life around us and pointing out the good, true and beautiful seems a fruitless endeavor in the midst of challenges and heartache. But we will always have trouble and sorrow with us. While we live in a fallen world, we live with a risen Savior; the invisible Kingdom of God is there for the seeing. All we need be aware of is His presence and the beauty around us in every season.

Life is a Cycle, Not a Straight Line

“Nothing is ever over. You thread things on your life
and think you’ve finished with them but you haven’t because it’s like beads on a string and they come around again. “When it comes around again then if it is possible, give what you failed to give before to someone else. You will have made reparation, for we are all one person.”

Elizabeth Goudge, ‘The Scent of Water’, c. 1963

My eyes were closed as we drove home in the dark from our days’ excursion to the mountains.  I was having a silent conversation with Jesus, “Forgive me, Lord, for my short attitude today with my husband.  For my sarcasm and biting words.  Forgive me for my selfishness with my sister, my mother-in-law, my disrespect…”I had had this conversation a few too many times and frankly I was tiring of it. In God’s goodness, though, the Holy Spirit brought this quote above to mind and my heart was calmed. Instead of beating myself up with, “I should be further along (more mature, less abrasive) by now, I sensed the graciousness of God speaking.

The fact of the matter is, as much as I’d like to imagine my life begins at A and goes on to Z, the truth is Life is NOT a LINE, IT IS A CIRCLE. Much like the beads on my favorite green necklace, placed just so in random spacing. Taking that metaphor–necklace as model for lifewalk–I imagine these as markers of all those do-overs I meet so frequently. But the good news? They are farther and farther apart. The shape of the circle grows in ever-widening arcs as God adds to my life, layer upon layer. From glory to glory. There is more grace between the spaces.

No, life is NOT a straight line, like tearing the pages from a calendar, marking off days in a manageable sequence. It is a continual turning, growing in a process of picking things up, putting things down, trying things out, trying things on, throwing things away.

I am reminded of  one of my favorite old hymns ‘Simple Gifts’

“Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free

Tis a gift to come down where we ought to be

And when we are in a place just right

Til by turning, turning, we come ’round right.”

The Shakers were right–we turn and turn ’til we come ’round right, at home in the presence of Jesus. And along the way we place memorial stones, altars that say, “I died here. I gave up here. I rejoiced here. I grew here. I want to remember this.”

Scripture says we are ALL being changed into His likeness from ‘glory to glory.’ But it will be an ongoing, life long process, a pilgrimage that takes us on a daily path towards Heaven. The pathway features markers, with grace between the spaces, reminding us of how far we’ve come and what He has done. And if we retrace our steps and find ourselves in the same place as before it is good to remember where we’ve been challenged and how much we have changed.

J.R. R. Tolkien says it well in The Fellowship of the Ring,

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”

Our lives are a continual journey on the pathways God has designed, a continual turning. Nothing is ever over until we are home with Him.

Praise His name.