Haiku Practice

If Haikus take those things that we feel and experience but somehow can't express in regular speech -- nature, the Divine, our innermost complexities -- and distill them down to their verbal essence, then the first Haiku I ever heard danced through my head throughout my childhood.

My father traveled so much when I was a child. I understood that was what he did, but I missed him with my whole heart. We often dropped him off and picked him up at the airport. In fact, when I was tiny, I thought he worked there -- not understanding it was a place of further departure. Each time we went, I heard a recorded lady's voice speaking. Her words often danced through my mind at random times during my childhood days. It wasn't until much later that I realized she spoke my first Haiku -- capturing the felt absence of my father's busy life.

Passenger zones are
for loading and unloading
only no parking.
— Airport Lady Haiku

One of the happiest times of my life took place in my early thirties, when a group of eight of us met once a month for a poetry dinner, during which we wrote either group Haikus or group limericks. We did this by writing one line and then passing the poem to the person on our right to continue it. Those dinners brought me more joy than I can express. Even now the memory of those nights and my wonderful friends fills my heart to bursting.

This week, I had an extraordinary reunion with an old old friend. We met over dinner and our connection was profound and healing. We talked deeply about our experiences in college, and how they had affected, even scarred, all of our ensuing years in ways we never knew we shared. To speak the truth to one another was healing beyond measure. To speak the truth and see it mirrored back in a friend's eyes. 

At dusk, we drove up to a lake in Woodstock, where she told me we might see some beavers. When I expressed remorse that I hadn't brought my camera, she said, "They will swim right up to us." I looked at her like she was nuts, but she just grinned.

The beaver, it is said, reminds us not to neglect our dreams. It asks us to ask ourselves to which dreams we have not remained true. As my friend and I continued our conversation about our lifelong learning to step into our own lives in loving ways, we stood overlooking a gorgeous lake at twilight. Suddenly, I saw the water move -- and realized it was a beaver. She was swimming right toward us. She glided across the still water, as I felt a smile infuse my whole being. She swam up and looked right at us, and then swam on. The next day, I wrote this Haiku.

Twilight communion
Swimming still waters she glides
Breaking the silence.
— Haiku for the Beaver Who Gave Us Her Blessing