In the desert of my heart,
Let the healing fountain start.
In the prison of my days,
Teach this free man how to praise.
I love that poetry snippet by W. H. Auden and it is part of my daily devotional. But, I can occasionally look at it differently and be taken aback with the grim notion of a “prison of my days!” “Wow! Somebody needs to get a life,” someone might say. “Prison. Aw, come on…”
And he/she would have a point. A good poet is a pain mongerer on some level as, just as “mad Ireland…hurt” W. B. Yeats into poetry (per a W. H. Auden poem), a mad somewhere-or-another hurt most poets into their private, though beautiful, torment. And, yes, “mad Arkansas” hurt me into “other people’s poetry” as my wife once quipped!
But, anyone who sees only the pain probably needs to pause every now and then and see the beauty that abounds around him/her. Yes, I do see humankind confined to “the prison of his/her days” in that the time-space continuum does not provide us any exit. We are trapped! But, just when the prison seems most confining and unbearable, most of us can take that pause and see the luxurious beauty that surrounds us—the simple breath of life, the gift of children, the love of friends and family, the loveliness of plants and flowers, and the stunning beauty of the animal kingdom. This focus can help us escape ourselves for a moment and that is one of the basic tasks of life