Come, said my soul,
Such verses for my body let us write, (for we are one,)
That should I after death invisibly return,
Or, long, long hence, in other spheres,
There to some group of mates the chants resuming,
(tallying earth’s soil, trees, winds, tumultuous waves,)
Ever with pleas’d smile I may keep on,
Ever and ever yet the verses owning—as first, I here and now
Signing for soul and body, set to them my name,
I’ve cornered some goals for the year ahead. I feel hopeful that the pursuits will be significant—will make a difference. I hope you’re chasing a few. I’m convinced that a good life is one lived on purpose. That being said, I can make the case that some of my best days ever lived have been those without a clear goal in mind.
Friday was one of those days. I went for a long run, without my usual attention to details. I just started running. I turned up Allen’s Creek Road at the Baptist Church and just kept going. At the end of it, when the rain started coming down hard, the road turned to gravel and the world around me turned into wilderness. I discovered the watershed, and my soul was completely alive. I lifted my arms into the deluge and laughed—a Shawshank Redemption moment. I was free. I proceeded to run up and down every street I encountered, discovering new places, fantastic views, suspicious people, friendly people, angry dogs and morning cows. Twenty-one miles and four and a half hours later, I returned home a new man.
Snow days usually rank in the ‘best ever’ category. A good snow day brings everything to a halt; the world becomes quiet and life becomes spontaneous. Instead of retreating into our books and devices, we go for long walks, build igloos and slide crazy fast down the steepest hills we can find. The hot chocolate helps us thaw, and we snuggle under blankets to watch ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ or ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ We’re never the same after a snow day. The love in the room is different somehow—deeper and more memorable.
When I look closely, I realize that the carefree, spontaneous days—the ones that surprise with unexpected joy and meaning—are actually days waiting in the margins of a well-envisioned life. My goal to stay in marathon shape pushed me out the door on Friday, and our vision for family life turns a snow day into a together day.
This year, I’m going to read a poem every day. I want to turn a corner in my ability to preach well. I also want to experience the challenges poetry will bring to my way of seeing the world. So I’m sharing today’s poem with you. You will see and hear different things—that’s the beauty of poetry. Walt Whitman reminds me that my life has deep meaning and value—that I need to set my name to things of my own doing that really matter, and sign off on the beauty you’re creating. When this happens, the margins will move to the center, and the world will live good days.