Here’s a story of the most important sermon I ever heard; and a story of when I knew — deep down with a click — who I fundamentally am.
This was before we had our baby, as best I recall, and it was at our first church, the one that cherished us in our losses and taught me so much and made me often quite angry. The head pastor was a very serious gentleman. Very brilliant, very studious, very reserved. He connected with many people with an equally formal manner; but we rarely interacted. He was perhaps far over my head; or perhaps his very seriousness just blocked me from connecting with his words.
Yet in fact his sermon changed me entirely.
I think he was preaching on are you a sinner or a child of God and the answer was something like each of us is both. I didn’t really listen to a word he said.
What I heard was how he started: Who are you?
And I thought of all the roles I play — wife, daughter, sister, employee….. and suddenly:
like a crack of silent thunder
I realized I was a poet. At that time I hadn’t written poetry in years. But I knew. There in my core I am a poet even if I never write another poem, even if I never again feel that tingle of a poem landing in my hands and heart.
I poked my husband and whispered in his ear, “I’m a poet.”
As a secret identity, being a poet can mean that I see unexpected beauty. Or weep and gnash my teeth at horrible injustice and suffering. Or try to reach out and connect with other people’s inner poets. Sometimes badly. Sometimes — ever so briefly — it feels like a flame.