Focusing in Ireland

Offered by Mary Jennings

I have chosen Clearing by Martha Postlewaite and have read it many times, used in mindfulness sessions, especially for very busy people in the caring professions who tend to care for others , sometimes to the neglect of their own well-being. Even the title has an invitation – creating a clearing: small sigh comes with that, yes, clearing. I let my body relax, just saying the word first - clearing and that brings me to read the poem in a different way - I have already slowed down.


by Martha Postlethwaite

Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself to this world
so worthy of rescue.


I have always liked the central image of this poem ‘create/a clearing/ in the dense forest/ of your life’. I can see it right away, right here again. There’s a sense of movement and then of stillness. A gentle kind of clearing, not a harsh hacking down of the forest, like it just appears, smoothly that clearing, where, as the poem says, I can wait patiently for the song or resonance of a life-like waiting for a felt sense to unfold.

What struck me when I first read the poem and strikes me here again right now, the power and depth of what Gendlin calls Clearing a Space: this poem captures that beautifully. Can I –just for now– put aside all the plans, the trials and tribulations, the sense of small-self - yes, there is a clearing. Who knows what song we might hear here? I like the idea of listening for the music of what might happen, what might I hear in this clearing something that comes in some sense not from myself but from elsewhere. Again, that sense of movement in the sound and of stillness.

And I will rest here awhile, just waiting…..perhaps for some life forward movement, returning refreshed ready to give myself to this world as in the poem, reading it now again.

Mary Jennings

March 2023



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