By Carol Ingram
“I began writing spiritual poetry some years ago when I was going through the Spiritual Direction Internship with the Benedictine Sisters in Beech Grove, Indiana. Under their loving care and guidance, I came to appreciate nature in new ways and began to see all of creation as a reflection of God. As I wrote about what I saw and experienced in nature through the medium of poetry I realized that what I was doing was prayer. My husband, Terry, saw what was happening in me and encouraged me by buying me a nice camera. That really expanded my interest in nature and in capturing what I was seeing as well as experiencing. And so, whenever I was in nature I took pictures and wrote when I felt inspired.
The first part of Out of Chaos is what I consider natural/elemental poems and prayers.
Part 2 of Out of Chaos is scripture based and comes from my lifelong love of scripture. Through the teaching of the Spiritual Direction Internship and the Academy for Spiritual Formation, I began praying with scripture, which expanded to praying specifically with the Psalms these past few years. This way of praying has become a part of my spiritual disciplines and writing prayers and poetry as a response to this type of prayer became quite natural for me.
Part 3 in Out of Chaos is collection of poems and prayers that come from living life as a Christian. These poems and prayers reflect the joys, struggles and questions that come in following the teachings of Jesus. Several of them are about my Dad who passed away this past year. What I learned in writing these poems and prayers is they must be authentic in emotion. They must include the whole range of how we feel, not just how we think we should respond to life as a Christian.
I decided to publish a collection of these works as a part of my experience in the 2-year Academy for Spiritual Formation. During the Academy, which is held at a retreat center in Alabama I was surrounded by great teaching and nature with daily times for silence and reflection. This was a perfect place for my gifts to be nurtured and the writing increased in depth and frequency. A piece of the 2-year Academy is to know that what we are doing and learning is ultimately for the sake of others. They encourage us in the second year to think of how we might share our experience of transformation with others. I felt led to compile my poetry, and prayer into a book, which also incorporated my photos. The inspiration behind the project was to invite others to think of prayer in expanded ways.
That inspiration needed nurturing and so I began to talk with my writer/editor son who asked me all the right questions about what I wanted the book to be. Through his questions and encouragements, this book began to take form. I was able to sort out what I wanted to include in the work and what did not fit this project. The format of three sections began to take shape. I did not begin with the name of the book and the name of the three sections. I began with the writing and let the creative process of shaping the book unfold. It was Michael’s encouragement to make the whole book a creative work of art that inspired me to find a shape and a format for the book.
Before, I was focused on each piece and the next piece I would write, with no idea of how they might all fit together. What helped me most was knowing why I was doing the book in the first place. It is not just a project; it is a tool for expanding the ministry of prayer. I believe poetry and photography can be prayer. I believe being in nature, appreciating nature, capturing glimpses of nature can all be a doorway to prayer. I believe the discipline of praying with scripture is formative and can help us move through the toughest times in our journey with integrity and hope. And so, I offer this book to you as an inspiration to expand your image and experience of prayer, to tread deeply in nature and scripture as a resource for prayer and to live your life in an attitude of prayer. Our life with God is our prayer life.”
Carol Ingram, a writer and Spiritual Director living in Eads, Tennessee. Carol has been married to her high school sweetheart, Terry for over 30 years. They have two sons, both whom are married and one granddaughter. Carol is a recent graduate of the 2-year Academy for Spiritual Formation, completed her training as a Spiritual Director with the Benedictine Sisters in Beech Grove, Indiana and is trained as a Stephen Leader. She is a member of Collierville United Methodist Church and a member of Collierville Christian Writer’s. This is her first published work of poetry and prayer. Out of Chaos is a small collection of poetry, prayers and photography released by beardsANDbicycles on April 1, 2014 through Create Space and then April 15, 2014 through Amazon.