In which it’s simple and it’s beautiful


For me, soul care rarely comes through celebrity magazines or reality TV. Soul care rarely comes through junk food indulgence or a bitch session over drinks. Soul care rarely comes through more time on Twitter or online shopping. Soul care rarely comes through talking about politics or watching cable news. Soul care rarely comes from podcasts or book reviews.

So when I’m tired and worn out, when I’m burned out on religion, when life starts to feel narrow, when I start to feel misunderstood or marginalised, defensive and territorial, when the haters or the nay-sayers or the scoffers take the seat in my mind or become the loudest voices in the room, I start to think I need a little more money, I need a little more recognition, I need a little more exegesis, I need a little more page views and clicks and comments, I need a little more time, I need a little more energy, I need a little more help, I need a seat at the table.

(But the truth is that I don’t really need those things. I have enough, right now, for all that God has for me. I have enough time. I have enough money. I have enough because He is more than enough and so I am enough and all of this, whatever this is sometimes, it is enough.)



And so these days, I am learning to take more care with my soul.

I make a cup of tea in the afternoon and I sit down. I paint a thrift store rocking chair a deep scarlet. I hang out with friends. I call my mother. I make meals for someone just home from the hospital. I rock my baby. I go for a walk at dawn. I put the computer away. I pull it back out to write what I want to write, instead of what I think will get me a lot of clicks. I read Beezus and Ramona out loud. I do the laundry, steadily, folding the clothes when they’re still warm. I roll up the rug and sweep the floors. I write letters. I pay attention to the moments of the day. I pray. I do the daily and unsexy work of heroism. I read my Bible instead of what someone tells me about the Bible. I draw with sidewalk chalk. I go to the Farmer’s Market instead of the grocery store.



And I read poetry.

I read poetry every day now, like my daily devotion, like a daily vitamin, like a daily dose of wonder and quiet and exhale.

I usually start with my long-time friends, the Romantics, but it never takes long for me to dip back into Luci Shaw and then I’m dog-earing and underlining Mary Oliver again. Sometimes I wonder if we could call a time-out just so that everyone could read Wendell Berry or Gerard Manley Hopkins or Billy Collins or Coleridge, Shelley, Wordsworth or Rilke or Maya Angelou or William Blake.

These days, radical self-care is coming through eyes that see and ears that hear and a heart that receives and the realisation that if I have to choose between literalism and mysticism, poetry and prose, I’ll make another cup of tea and read another poem.

It’s simple and it’s beautiful and, these days, that is enough for me and it feels fearless.

My favourites for these days, in particular:

(Affiliate links)


  • Holly Grantham

    Sometimes I feel as if my calling in this world is to stand on the street corner and recite Mary Oliver poems so that everyone will know the truth and beauty within them.
    Oh, to have poetry fly off my lips as quickly and easily as the other junk I fling out on a daily basis.
    I’m with you, sister.

    • Sarah Bessey

      That would be a GREAT calling, Holly. I’ll join you. 

  • Mizmelly

    Thank you. I needed to hear this today.

  • Lucille Zimmerman

    Hey, I just wrote about this very thing:

  • the Blah Blah Blahger

    Your words are achingly beautiful, Sarah Bessey!!!

  • Debbie Johnston

    A friend led me here through a Facebook link, this is exactly what I needed to be reminded of today. Thank you. I have garden bench I am going to paint blue….

  • Steph

    My daughter (who is 2) has a book of poems and prayers that speak to me in amazingly simple and refreshing ways.

  • Linda Stoll

    This is wonderful advice for all of us bloggers/wanna be writers/internet surfers –  ‘I put the computer away.  I pull it back out to write what I want to write, instead of what I think will get me a lot of clicks.’

    Note to self – put Sarah’s wise words on a sticky note and place on the desk.   And then close that laptop down and go live today well.

  • michelle

    This is going to sound crazy but this weekend I was longing to read some poetry.  Except I don’t read poetry… unless you count Shel Silverstein.  I adore him.  But your post got me thinking.  I know poetry is personal and what speaks to one person won’t speak to another but I’d love to know… if a person was going to dip their toes into poetry who or where would be a good place to start?  (i.e.  Not so deep that I don’t get it.  😉 

  • pastordt

    Yeah, I go through poetry binges, too. And I subscribe to Tweetspeak’s daily poem drop – in your inbox. Love that website – it’s quirky and fun and often has some really good articles to read, too. Love your scarlet rocker.

  • vanessa

    how appropriate for me right now, sarah. you just spoke into my soul. i spent all of the last three day holiday weekend (in the states) watching yucky tv, reading things that didn’t fill me up, and avoiding being helpful around the house. yes, sometimes we need quiet and rest, but i don’t feel rested today. i feel lazy. i think that’s the difference. had i read poetry and folded warm laundry and gone to the farmer’s market i might not be feeling icky today. 

  • Tina Francis

    Working on this myself, sweet Sarah. Africa taught me to slowwww the heck down. 

  • Ed_Cyzewski

    Right on Sarah. I was just writing today about the ways that my garden becomes my time out and sacred refuge. Just stopping in the middle of my day for something simple and focused helps immensely.

  • Helen

    the older I get the more soul care is becomnig my mantra. I laughed to read the first list of activities that some see as time out. To me they are all so noisy. When I need soul care I try as much as possible to stop the endless chatter of the world and just hang out with me or someone I love.
    Really appreciated this post. Thank you.

  • hopejem

    It is official. I am going back in time. I am taking you with me and you will talk to me in my mid twenties. You will teach me these precious truths. We can only hope I will be wise enough to listen.

    I love you so.

  • Tonia

    I’ll never choose between literalism and mysticism, never been poetry and prose…I am made of both and desperate in need of them.  Thank you for this lovely, lovely post.  

  • Kelly @ Love Well

    Dang girl. So well said.

    You know you are my poetry, right?

  • Pingback: DaNcInG WoRdS….Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front | Lifestyle, Craft, Music and DIY()

  • Carrie Pazdziora

    For me, soul care often comes through coming here.  What a beautiful, simple expression of true life you’ve found.  Thanks for sharing it with me.  :)

  • Lindsay

    Read this for the second time today and I think I felt my spirit take a big, deep breath. Somehow you know how to put so beautifully into words what so many of us are thinking and longing for. I think I’m dusting off my Romantics for tomorrow morning.

  • Jesspins

    Oh, me too.  Poetry, indeed.  I have L’Engle’s Ordering of Love waiting for me next.   If I may suggest … ?  Sue Sinclair.  And BC women Carla Funk and Gillian Wigmore who write about place so well it makes me want to go home.

  • amy@tolove

    you write my heart here.  it’s beautiful.  

  • Jennifer Tammy

    Thank you, Sarah. I am in tears because you have given my soul a voice and allowed me to hear someone else say what has been missing since my motherhood journey began. I published some poetry in magazines over five years ago, but have only touched one book of adult poetry since becoming a mom — while on vacation — and I keep searching for balance. I homeschool, I cook from scratch, I do devotionals, I study, I work, I blog, but poetry! How could I neglect this sustenance?! Really, and truly, thank you.