Writing in Response to Our Times

 
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An Opportunity to Join Me in Port Townsend!

Writing in Response to Our Times
with Sarah Zale and Whidbey author, Gina Marie Mammano
Fridays, 1p.m. – 3 p.m.every other week (8 meeting times)
at The Writers’ Workshoppe located at 820 Water Street, Port Townsend, WA
Feb 10 & 24, March 10, 24, April 7 &21, May 5 & 19
Cost. $200.
Max. 10 participants.

Has the aftermath of the election affected you personally? Are you feeling the need to wrestle and rumble with your thoughts and emotions—as well as connect with others in reflective and transformative ways? In this writing workshop, you will explore your stories and feelings with two facilitators from eclectic backgrounds: poetry, Compassionate Listening ®, social justice theatre, meditation, and spiritual leadership. Participants will be invited to share their writing on a voluntary basis in a supportive environment; no experience is necessary. All writing styles welcome.

Sarah Zale teaches poetry and writing, social justice, and intercultural competence in Seattle. A certified facilitator of Compassionate Listening ® and facilitator of Theatre of the Oppressed and Playback, she brings the skills of deep listening and interactive theatre to her students. Sarah is a passionate believer in the power of poetry and the arts to transform and heal ourselves and the world. She has published two collections of poetry: The Art of Folding (2010), which was inspired by her travels to Israel and Palestine, and Sometimes You Do Things (2013, Aquarius Press, Living Detroit Series) which highlights the history of Detroit and celebrates its rebuilding.

Gina Marie Mammano: Inspired by the ancient spiritual practices of lectio divina and walking meditation, Gina’s book Camino Divina: Walking the Divine Way helps readers explore whole new worlds inside themselves. Gina is an award winning poet whose work has been published in journals and magazines such as the Dos Passos Review, Poetica, Pilgrimage Journal, Bearings, and Crucible. Her training as a spiritual director, work as a retreat leader, and experiences gleaned from the OpeniCng the Book of Nature program have allowed her the ability to create interactive and intuitive listening exercises both in the interior and exterior landscapes.

Are you a falcon, a storm, or a great song?

Happy birthday Rainer Maria Rilke! Among the crystal cold awakenings we experience during the birth of winter in this month of December, I love to think about Rilke’s clarity of thought in lines like this one: “I circle around God, around the primordial tower. I’ve been circling for thousands of years and I still don’t know: am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song.” I’ve pondered this line more than once before, and was even asked by one of my teachers which one I would choose. How about you? Are you a falcon, a storm, or a great song? The adventure I take with this “Saint of Centers” in my book “Camino Divina”, is one of well, centering- “into the heart of things”. I invite you to come along. Enjoy!

The encaustic painting featured today is by Caterina Martinico, an artist featured on Etsy.

Gorgeous Enlightened Thoughts by Parker Palmer

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I’ve read this meditation twice now. So good. So refreshing. So sparkling in this time of winter darkness. May it bring you a cool breath of fresh thought as well!

(read originally on Krista Tippet’s On Being site)

When Words Become Flesh: Risking Vulnerability in a Violent World

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth.” — John 1:14

As a kid growing up in the Methodist Church, the Christmas Eve service always made me teary. Everything about it moved me: the story, the music, the candlelight, the scent of pine, the silent night, the comforting presence of family and friends. I was especially moved by the curious claim that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

I was blessed, as all children are, with what Buddhists call “beginner’s mind,” so the theological distinction between “the Word” and “a word” escaped me. Free of creedal complexities, I was mesmerized by the notion that something as airy as a word could take on human flesh. I was too young to understand why this moved me so, but today I do.

There’s often a huge disconnect between the good words we speak and those we incarnate in our lives. In personal relations and politics, in the mass media, in the academy, and in organized religion, our good words tend to float away even as they leave our lips, ascending to an altitude where they neither reflect nor connect with our lived experience.

We long for words like love, truth, and justice to become flesh and dwell among us. But in our violent world, where hate speech generates rabid support for certain wannabe “leaders,” it can be risky to infuse our frail flesh with the language of heart and soul.

In the Christmas story, God — an airy word if ever there was one! — takes the risk of incarnation. In fact, God doubles down on that risk by choosing the flesh of a vulnerable infant, not a warrior king, a claim that brought me to tears of wonder when I was young. But my adult knowledge of that infant’s fate — a fate shared by so many who have devoted their lives to love, truth, and justice — brings tears of grief and anger, along with a primal fear of what might happen if I followed suit.

As a Quaker who believes that “there is that of God in everyone,” I know I’m called to share in the risk of incarnation. Amid the world’s dangers, I’m asked to embody my values and beliefs, my identity and integrity, asked to allow good words to take flesh in me. Constrained by fear, I often fall short. And yet I still aspire to walk my heart-and-soul talk, however imperfectly.

Christmas is a reminder that I’m invited to be born time and again in the shape of my God-given self — which means embracing the vulnerability of the Christmas story. It’s a story easily lost in a culture that commercializes this holy day nearly to death, or in churches more drawn to showtime and bling than to the real thing, or in creedal food fights over whose theology is best. But the story’s meaning is clear to beginner’s mind.

An infant in a manger is as vulnerable as human beings get, and what an infant needs is simple: food, shelter and protection from harm. The same is true of all the good words seeded in our souls that long to become embodied in our midst. If these vulnerable but powerful parts of ourselves are to be incarnated — to suffer yet survive and thrive, transforming us and the wounded world around us — they need to be swaddled in unconditional love.

For those of us who celebrate Christmas, the best gift we can share with others, whatever their faith or philosophy may be, are two simple questions asked with heartfelt intent: What good words within us are waiting to take on flesh? How can we love one another in ways that allow those words to be born and dwell embodied among us?

 

Priest Leonard Cohen

  1. On this day, I remember a musical priest whose sermons I still read in the notes of his songs. We will miss you dearly, Leonard Cohen.

    Priest: Leonard (Cohen)

    We heard his syrupy voice as black as pitch
    preaching his dark sermons
    in smoke and fire
    in open ditches and underpasses
    somewhere in the land of somewhere
    under the veil of nowhere.
    We realized it was a revival,
    complete with tables and
    tent poles and lost souls,
    though there were no white canvases, no white lies.
    He drained us of everything we had,
    all our internal resources, all our desires,
    all our false hopes, drowning in a sea of
    questions marks, ash, and splinters,

    but somehow, when we came up out of the
    waters,

    we came up clean.

    – Gina Marie Mammano

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An Adventure into the Familiar

It’s a good November day to think about author and poet Wendell Berry and things familiar- things to be grateful for- the miniscule, the often unnoticed. He once wrote: “The search withholds the joy from what is found” in his poem “Boone”. It seems like a great time peek around the corners of the everyday, the familiar, and utter a small or extra large helping of “thank you”, even though it may be hard in times like these. I’m in the city of Seattle as I write this, grateful for every person who opens a door for another, every smile given gratis, every face of every color and shade. Let’s keep opening the door for one another, and say “thank you” to every kindness or a glisten of light that comes our way today.

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Small Things the Reflect Light

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A dear friend of mine and I were talking about the antidote to a toxic climate in this election. I’ve resolved to come up with one or two or more, much like the rriiiiipppping! sound of tearing off a prescription in a doctor’s office. My first prescription for myself was a poignant reading written by Richard Rohr on his “Center for Action and Contemplation” site.  My second one is this: small things that reflect light. What small things all around you are reflecting light today . . . including you?

Feel free to post a picture or description on this site- let’s share the love, and the light!

 

A Welcome and Invitation to “Soul Souvenirs” Retreat!

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I come into the peace of wild things . . . .

And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

–         Wendell Berry

Welcome! We invite you to join us for a retreat amidst the glistening advent of a new year- and what better place to enter into it than near the rich red roads and yellow sandstone towers of Ghost Ranch, with beautiful Mount Pedernal purpling the background—all possibly glazed with sparkling New Mexico snow! The gathering is called “Soul Souvenirs: Walking the Divine Way in Winter’s New Light” and our focus is on renewal, the beauty of soulscape and landscape, and of course, rest and rejuvenation to prepare for the new year. Our time will include small group interactions, walking meditations based on the practice of Camino Divina, times of reflection, and explorations of our inner and outer landscapes within the beauty of Georgia O’Keefe’s luscious backdrop. Here’s the link for more information- would love to see you there!

Soul Souvenirs: Walking the Divine Way in Winter’s New Light – G17S112X