The striking cover of Turnings does a fine job of bringing together the sense of mystery out of which our human experience comes, the rough pen we have used to try to express this experience, and the twisted shavings that result from our engagement with the stuff of life.
All through my years as an ethicist I was writing poetry, liturgies, and songs springing from the emotional depths of my own experience and my sense of our common experience as human beings on this planet. In linking these two aspects of my life I can see that both my ethics and my poetry have tried to explore the ways we give shape and meaning to our thoughts, feelings, and actions within the mysterious powers of creativity and love that undergird our existence.
As I looked back over my poems I saw a constant theme of turning, not just because I turn bowls in my wood shop from time to time, but because my life, like most of ours, has consisted of turnings of all kinds. As I said on the book’s back cover, “Like works in wood upon a lathe, these poems are word-turnings that reveal the inner grain of our human experience. They are bowls to catch our turnings of memory, conversion, falling in love, and passing through our seasons and the wrenching turns that mark our lives. Above all these turnings are a shout of praise, a murmur of wonder, a turning away from life as usual, a merciful re-turning to the songs, images and stories that move our lives.”
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