Feasting the Heart

One of my favorite Southern writers, Reynolds Price, published a wonderful collection of essays a few years back called Feasting the Heart.  Don’t you love that title? It conjures all kinds of beautiful experiences, from watching the sun rise over the ocean, to hearing a child’s laugh, to sitting quietly with a treasured friend, to reading words so exquisite they make you cry. As writers, we can sometimes overload on character worksheets, plotting checklists, word lists and other such things in search of writing  a story that works. I’ve  published quite a few of them here at Writers’ Caffeine.  Just as important though, is the process of feasting your heart, filling it not with checklists but with words, emotions, experiences that you can draw upon later.

Several years ago I  was a faculty member at a writers’ workshop that included the U S Poet laureate, Ted Kooser. He is a delightful man whose words, fashioned into poems that celebrate the simplest of things–a flow blue plate, a burbling tea kettle, a rainy Midwestern morning, feast my heart and fill my writer’s imagination. Here is one of my favorites, from his book of poems, Delights and Shadows. It’s called  A Box of Pastels.

I once held on my knees a simple wooden box

in which a rainbow lay dusty and broken.

It was a set of pastels that years before

belonged to the painter Mary Cassatt,

and all of the colors she’d used in her work lay open before me. Those hues she’d most used,

the peaches and pinks, were worn down to stubs,

while the cool colors–violet, ultramarine–

had been set, scarcely touched, to one side.

She’d had little patience with darkness, and her heart

held only a measure of shadow. I touched

the warm  dust of those colors, her tools,

and left there with light on the tips of my fingers.

Ted Kooser

Blessings on your week, friends. Take some time to feast your heart. Your work will be better for it.