Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Creatively Coping: Write a Prayer Poem

While I was in medical school, residency and clinical practice I wrote and used poetry to help friends, family, patients and colleagues deal with the pain from losses and aid in their grieving.

Poetry Therapy aided my own healing. I then shared my poems with others to help with theirs.

Poetry was an integral part of the healing portion of the Journey of Hearts website established to help anyone grieving a loss. Over the years my healing poems have been used as part of funeral, memorial and remembrance services, published as memorials in newspapers and yearbooks and sent as e-mail condolences.

I was fortunate enough 10 years ago to take a course with Poetry Therapist, John Fox on "Forming Community and Revealing Uniqueness Through Poem-Making" as a course from the National Foundation of Integrative Medicine.

John has gone on to become a leader in the movement of poetry therapy as an expressive art and in particular, the use of poetry in medicine. When I read this exercise on using Prayer Poems, I knew it could be a useful exercise to help NICU Parents cope with the NICU experience.

Write a Prayer Poem
John starts with a definition of prayer and writes that:
Prayer is a way to communicate with the Divine. Prayer [also] is a way to love the spirit of whatever is dear to you. Prayer is a way to let your heart cry out. Prayer is a way to come exactly as you are to the Unknown, the mystery of it all. Bring to your prayer what is raw, what is sublime.

Prayer is a way to welcome a wider vision of life for you.

He then goes on to pose a series of questions, starting with a poetic line, "Prayer is words strung like beads on the thread of your silence."

  • Are you aware of the silence that your prayer words join with?
  • What fertile silence do you long to enter?
  • How does this kind of silence effect your world?
  • How does divine guidance respond to your plea for help?
  • Who reaches your heart in those times when no one else can?

Finally John encourages people to write a prayer of your own.

This exercise of writing a Prayer Poem could be useful ones for NICU Parents struggling with issues of faith and they try to understand the reasons behind why their newborn is in the Intensive Care Unit.

A Special Healing Blessing
Even though John and I were not in touch at the time of my daughter's NICU adventures, I am sure that his exercise of Prayer Poems would have been a helpful way for me to creatively coping during our time in the NICU.

On my own I did created our own version of a Prayer Poem by writing a Healing Blessing. This Special Healing Blessing was placed over our daughters isolette until she was discharged. Copies were gifted to the NICU on her discharge.

Fox. J.
Poetic Medicine Bag: Exercise 3: Prayer Poems. The Institute for Poetic Medicine.

Images: Elena Buetler. Writing. Royalty Free Use.
Kirsti A. Dyer MD, MS. NICU Blessing. Some Rights Reserved.

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