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Nessa McCasey

Writing Our Hearts Out
A Quarterly Column
Winter 2005-'06

by Nessa McCasey

We are very pleased to welcome Nessa McCasey to SoulfulLiving.com!  With each new issue, Nessa will offer a poem or short writing based on our magazine's theme and will provide techniques for creative expression that you can use to explore the topic yourself.

Being Still and Still Moving the Pencil

Still is still moving to me
And I swim like a fish in the sea all the time
But if that’s what it takes to be free I don’t mind
Still is still moving to me
Still is still moving to me
And it’s hard to explain how I feel
It won't go in words but I know that it’s real
I can be moving or I can be still
But still is still moving me
Still is still moving to me
­-Willie Nelson

Ahhh, the conundrum of seeking stillness. Have you felt this being still and still moving duality before? Perhaps it is in those still moments that we can truly notice how much our bodies are doing for us, how always connected we are with the actions of the world. Let’s turn this phrase around a little more, though…

From http://wordnet.princeton.edu (and many online dictionaries also provided this quote about the dragons of worry and fear):

(v) calm, calm down, quiet, tranquilize, tranquillize, tranquillise, quieten, lull, still (make calm or still) “quiet the dragons of worry and fear”

Yes, there it is – quieting the dragons of worry and fear. That’s the true meaning that I felt in my very core as I started to sit with this phrase and Willie Nelson’s rendition above. Quieting, calming, stilling – who am I stilling when I practice Being Still? I personally want to still those dragons of worry and fear. That’s what I want to quiet: my worries, my fears, my self-doubts.

Here’s another poem:

This Shining Moment in the Now
When I work outdoors all day, every day, as I do now, in the fall,
getting ready for winter, tearing up the garden, digging potatoes,
gathering the squash, cutting firewood, making kindling, repairing
bridges over the brook, clearing trails in the woods, doing the last of
the fall mowing, pruning apple trees, taking down the screens,
putting up the storm windows, banking the house­all these things,
as preparation for the coming cold...
when I am every day all day all body and no mind, when I am
physically, wholly and completely, in this world with the birds,
the deer, the sky, the wind, the trees...
when day after day I think of nothing but what the next chore is,
when I go from clearing woods roads, to sharpening a chain saw,
to changing the oil in a mower, to stacking wood, when I am
all body and no mind...
when I am only here and now and nowhere else­then, and only
then, do I see the crippling power of mind, the curse of thought,
and I pause and wonder why I so seldom find
this shining moment in the now.

by David Budbill, from While We've Still Got Feet © Copper Canyon Press.
poems are copyright protected and provided here for therapeutic/educational use only

Often, my best way of centering is to leaf through poems or happen upon new readings in books, magazines, or on the Internet. It’s like that surprise of opening a book to just any page and finding something useful right there! To me, Being Still is having that little tiny opening for Grace to slip into my life. I could be moving quickly through a day’s tasks when all of a sudden a small child smiles at me so broadly, showing me gaps in her mouth from the loss of her baby teeth, that suddenly, I am stopped, and am Still within the wider universe. Everything has expanded and yet is small and in focus, just that little girl and me. It is as if I am connected to everything all at once through my opening to receive her wonderful grin. I can see that little face again and again in my mind – even now. These moments of opening are available to me in my writing practice, too, as I open to the flow of that creative process. Just a little past the struggle of frustration or boredom or the tug of so many other things to be done, out flows a phrase that ends a paragraph just right. Or I write a line within a poem that I want to carve into my brain forever, so sure am I that it came from somewhere I want to keep going back to again and again.

As we all balance our lives, I hope for you to find your own way of centering, of opening and expanding into the universal connections between and among us. And what about writing? What would you write about your own life’s struggle for unity, for center amidst chaos of, say, the nightly news?

What is your shining moment in the NOW? Is it in action that your heart opens beyond yourself? Is it in that still moment as you watch the sunset or see your child or spouse sleeping?

What would you write into your journal tonight about your day’s moments of stillness? What would you dream of experiencing with stillness?

You could make a list poem (listing one item after another, just like your grocery list might look on the page) of the possibilities within stillness for yourself. What would you gain from stillness, from centering yourself? What difficulties would you have with being still?

We all have our difficulties, as well as our successes with Being Still. Yet as long as we keep trying, we have that chance of slipping into such a divine moment as connection beyond ourselves or of writing something that later we don’t even recognize as our own words, somehow spectacular. To me, these are all soul nourishment, even the very attempt to find the calm center.

with much peace,
Nessa McCasey

© Copyright 2005 Nessa McCasey.  All Rights Reserved.

Read Nessa McCasey's Past Columns:

July-Sept 2005 - Balance -- Creating a Map to Take You There

Oct - Dec 2004 - Letting Go and Moving Forward: Writing as a Map of Progress

Aug - Sept 2004 - Writer’s Block and Then… Moving Forward Again

April - May 2004 - Identifying Our Crossroads

January - February 2004 - Daring to Dream Out Loud

December 2003 - Joining Together with Our Words of Grace

November 2003 - Midlife Questioning: One Writer's Path to Learning

October 2003 - Can We Write (or Read) Our Way to Serenity?

Nessa McCasey
Nessa McCasey, A former technical editor for NASA, street/performance poet in Denver, corporate writer, single mom, marketing communications specialist, and church music director. She is charting a new path for work and life in the profession of Poetry Therapy serving as a State Representative for the National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT) where she facilitates group or individual poetry therapy sessions and presents poetry and writing workshops to jump-start others in their own powers of creative expression. You can reach Nessa at: poetnessa@writersofwrongs.com


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