Creativity and Spirituality with Joel McKerrow

Month: July, 2012



We have been making a lot of circles recently.

“Circles?” you ask.

“Circles!” I say.

If you did not know my wife and I are a little obsessed with the author John Odonahue. He says that when two people connect and a deep friendship is formed that a circle of belonging wraps itself around the relationship. Both parties feel connected, safe, secure, inspired…home.

When you are travelling home becomes an interesting concept. Can the nomadic lifestyle foster a sense of HOME and belonging? Many would say that it is impossible. That true connection only occurs through embedded roots within a place and with a people, through long-term relationship building and commitment.

I am not sure that I agree with such a distinction.

As we have travelled around the US on holiday and as we are now in Ontario, Canada touring poetry with the fabulous Michelle Dabrowski we have been blessed beyond belief with the new friendships that we have found. Just a handful of these being…Amy Leigh Cutler the stunning poet from NYC, Helen Brownell and Stephane our new friends that we spent the week with in Cape Cod, Whitney Johnson and Phillip Keller a young musical couple soon to be married from North Carolina and my Scottish brother photographer Colin Wishart from the Wildgoose festival and then in Canada Danielle K.L. Gregoire the amazing mother and poet from Almonte, ON and Veronika the teacher from Kingston, ON and Greg Frankson and Alyssa Ginsburg, Alyssa Comstock and Brooke and Julian. All of these and more.

These are the people who we have made circles with since our trip began. These are people we feel a sense of belonging with. The circle that is Heidi and myself has interlinked with the circles that are Michelle Dabrowski and her delightful friends that we are meeting throughout Canada. Your own circles interlink in some sense with our circles. There are indeed many circles that have formed around myself and many of you who are reading this. Circles interlinked with circles within circles within circles. Everything is connected. We are all creatures of longing and belonging. The creator certainly liked circles when s/he made this world. Maybe the very point of life is circle making? No wonder the Celtic Christian symbol for God is three interlinking circles.

So I think that belonging and depth of relationship can abound for both the wanderer and also those who STAY. For the nomad and the stationary. Home looks different for both and there are different seasons for both. There are times for making new circles and there are times for deepening the old (I am actually, at present, writing a short-story fable about exactly this. So keep a look out for it in a few months).

Poetry is a circle builder. Poetry is not about the poet or even their words. In the end it is about the poetic community, both near and far. It is about those who gather to hear story and in doing so live a different way. Michelle and I are making circles that stretch all the way from Canada back to Australia. Poetry is about circles. Life is about circles.


Mystery of Self


While I’ve been listening to the anthem of DC, freedom and the price of freedom (as reflected on by Joel in the last blog), I have been reading John O’Donohue’s reflections on our fear of freedom. He says, ‘We find it (freedom) awkward and disturbing. Freedom challenges us to awaken and realise all the possibilities that sleep in the clay of our hearts.’ He speaks of a freedom within yourself. To be free of your own self definitions, to explore beyond your known self, to sit comfortably with your own infinite potential.

To attain this freedom we must give up our reduced identity and fight against any one fixed image of ourselves. The challenge is to unfurl our arms to embrace the mystery,a longing and continual unfolding of your own being. ‘The self is not an object or a fixed point of reference. It is a diverse inner landscape too rich to be grasped in anyone concept.’

Having removed myself from many of our standard social definitions of self (address, occupation, etc) it is easier now to see how we allow these things to define our souls beyond what is reasonable. The challenge is to allow the things we do, the things we’ve done, our heritage and experience to be part of us but to recognise they are only part. We are larger than we realise. I have longings and dreams now that are so very foreign to the dreams I had as a 10yr old. We must nurture our own mystery, actively encourage our souls to grow beyond our minds comprehension. To embrace mystery and diminish our fear of freedom. I’ll leave you with an exert from John O’Donohue’s Eternal Echoes.

When we domesticate our minds and hearts, we reduce our lives. We disinherit ourselves as children of the universe. Almost without knowing it, we slip inside ready-made roles and routines which then set the frames of our possibilities and permissions. Our longing becomes streamlined. We acquire sets of convictions in relation to politics, religion and work. We parrot these back and forth at each other as if they were absolute insights. Yet for the most part these frames of belief can be viewed as self-constructed barriers, fragile cliches built around our lives to keep out the mystery.