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Write in the Moment

Now swept away:
our favourite beach,
your final days

A practice common to Druidry and Buddhism is living in the present moment, in each moment as it passes, knowing it will never come again, so it must be savoured… and let go… Just as the seasons come… and go... To live, we must breathe in… and out… and change with each breath.

Writing haiku (a Japanese poetic form which has been greatly influenced by Zen Buddhism) is a practice in mindfulness. The “haiku moment” is a flash of awareness that connects us with what is going on now, which we then put into words. It is a kind of word-picture that tries to express the essence of a moment: poetry distilled. There are a few rules to the form, which are treated more as guidelines by most writers (usually three lines, 5-7-5 syllables, with a “cutting word” that juxtaposes two images or ideas, drawing from the natural world).

Phillip Murrell, a judge in the British Haiku Awards 2013 - the two winners of which were announced in the British Haiku Society’s journal, Blithe Spirit, in May (my haiku above being one of them) - describes haiku as “a kind of dialogue between writer and reader; a piece in which, ideally, the reader plays some part in completing the unstated” and which “in some way stir[s] the emotions”. This is more important than adhering strictly to the form.

Personally, I find writing (and reading) haiku therapeutic. A haiku, and our response to it as a reader, can tell us as much about ourselves as it can about the writer. A good haiku needs no explanation - in fact, your interpretation, if it is meaningful to you, is as good as mine.

However, if you would like to know the inspiration for the above haiku, read on (if not, look away now): Shortly before my mother died, we took a walk along the beach at Blakeney in north Norfolk - her favourite spot since childhood. This moment, though bitter-sweet, is one of my last happy memories of our time together. Then, last December a tidal surge decimated the coastline.

Article first published in the Druid Network’s Lammas 2014 newsletter


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