Vocation in Avocation: Poetry
By AJ Keith, Communications intern
Poetry straddles the line that divides music and literature by using a lyrical succession of words for a profound impact on the reader. Just as poetry exists in two forms of entertainment, so, too, do the Sisters of Charity blend their charism with their natural aptitude for poetry. Sisters of Charity Regina Kusnir and Ann Hunt are a few of the Congregation’s poets who enjoy the hobby for its ability to sharpen the mind, its artistic value and its innate spiritualism.
The act of writing poetry is as much about the order of words as it is about the topic that they are describing. Finding the perfect words that align with the rhythm of each poem provides a challenge for poets, but it also exercises their acuity and attention to detail. S. Regina recalls that her first experience with poetry came in the form of her English classes in high school. Here, she immediately fell in love with the art due to the many layers of meaning that can be interpreted and the words that are used to describe and even personify a topic. S. Regina states that the skill most needed for writing poetry is silence because it allows a person to focus on the details of a desired topic. “You have to be empty enough to allow inspiration to come,” she says.
For S. Regina, poetry is just as much a part of her ministry as her services as the director of pastoral and special ministries at Light of Hearts Villa in Bedford, Ohio. S. Regina has incorporated her original poetry into her ministry by writing birthday poems for everyone in this assisted living facility. These poems are cherished by the residents as well as their relatives. S. Regina mentioned that one of the late resident’s relatives said, “Our mother kept every poem that you sent her. We found every poem that you wrote to her.”
Ann, however, recalls poetry playing a significant role in her life for as long as she can remember. She also enjoys the many meanings that the words have when they are used in poetry and how they are expertly used by some of her favorite poets like Edger Allan Poe, E.E. Cummings and William Shakespeare. Because of this, S. Ann states that writing is a way for her to honor the art of past poets. For her, poetry best operates to invoke feelings in the reader during those moments. “I find inspiration for poems in the people that I meet and experiences that I have,” she says.
Because poetry is an abstract concept to some, its intricate symbolism and different forms can often turn readers away from it. However, both Sisters Regina and Ann embrace and dabble in many of these forms to best illustrate their opinions on certain topics. While S. Regina prefers long stanzas with a free-verse format, S. Ann prefers the succinct and simplified universal truths in her unique diamante form; in addition, S. Ann paints pictures to accompany her works. However, both agree that poetry offers an artistic outlet unlike any other.
The most important reason that these two engage in poetry is because of its spiritual benefits. After years of seeking inspiration for their written works, the two have been able to discover God’s presence in anything that gives them inspiration. This can often convince the Sisters to write on the simplest things like S. Ann’s poem “Laughter” to the mysteries of wonder and awe discussed in S. Regina’s poem “Pentecost.” Much like the sublime experience of prayer, the Sisters state that writing poetry is their specific way to praise God and all his creations.
While poetry can turn people away with their intricate details and dual meanings, S. Ann states that those dual meanings allow people to interpret poems in a different way. The beauty, she says, is that poetry means something different to everyone. S. Regina urges everyone unfamiliar with the art of poetry to rediscover its important symbolism to enrich their lives. She says, “Find the poetry in your own life; find the things that make you pause.”