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.

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Stepping into the Bowl of the Day

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As I look down at the jammy smile of my incision scar from my fall operation, (it is indeed in the curvaceous shape of the Amazon’s smug grin), I know I am not completely healed up as the smirk turns into a smarting pain during a long walk or just rambling through the course of my day.

But today is Fat Tuesday, and I know I’m on the brink of something. That scarry smile holds within itself a teeming matrix of healing, and bowls and bowls of those mysterious interior liquids that wash over your wounds during recovery.

I wrote this poem a few years ago on the brink of lent (on a day, much like today). And I wonder, once again,

How do I step into the bowl of this day?

The tear soup that sits salty

in dark brown pottery-

how do I lap up the poverty

of raggedness

from the day’s remnants of ripped

bread and confused wine?

Salt is soothing and healing-

the bleeding wounds suck the

white crystals unknowingly

and dry out their little souls,

but it will eventually create

a smooth ruby of a scab-

protection from infection,

a canopy of metamorphosis.

And for me, on this mardi gras bridge toward passion and contemplation, it is indeed the ongoing, stedfast hope of metamorphosis that sustains within the daily soup of life.

A Sky-full of Possible

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It is a grey flannel day in the Pacific Northwest- the sun once again decided to hide its head under a dark cloudy January blanket for the past few days. My body is creaking and complaining at the sounds of the alarm, the too-many steps, and the uncomfortably cold downstairs kitchen, also yawning its complaints. The mandate among the marinade of busy-ness these days always seems to be, “breathe”. I want to take this a couple of steps further. “Stop. Breathe. Say, ‘yes’.”

This takes an extra moment or two, but I find it extends the breath into the realm of the possible. And it could be a small “yes”- a very small “yes”, or a big one. “Yes” to whatever you can right in front of you. “Yes! there is a hot pot of coffee in front of me.” “Yes, this day, no matter in how many ways I have to give it away, is mine.” “Yes, I can take a minute out here, a small section of time there to find myself, and enjoy what I find.” Yes to a conversation. Yes to a short section of reading you’ve been wanting to begin. Yes to yourself. Since having surgery, I’m learning to have to say “yes” more and more. “Yes, I need to move.” “Yes, I need to stay still.” “Yes, I need this time for myself, so will need to call this person back later.”

You may find, as I have, that slowing down, and considering your “yes” can lead to a sky-full of possible.

Can you embrace your life right now?

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photo courtesy of Ginny Schneider

I’ve recently crossed the threshold of kidney surgery, wandering the strange and meandering road of recovery. Recovery sounds like such a positive word. You are recovering! You are getting better, and yet, it can be the most difficult part of the journey. Whether it’s in the physical realm, the soulful realm, the emotional realm, it’s where the shake-down happens. It’s where the questions arise. It’s where the open space of uncertainty and possibility remain open. It is where both pain and healing come to the surface. The whys, the wherefores, the what will happens are all out there wandering like lost children, bumping into each other, crying, crawling, and wondering when someone will pick them up and take them into that longed for lap of slow , motherly, rocking-chair solace.

In an act of spiritual direction toward myself, I asked myself a question this morning: “Can you embrace your life right now?”

I first had to think about what “embrace” might mean. I decided it doesn’t mean toying with myself and my situation at arms’ distance. It doesn’t mean  a quick peck on each cheek to make myself feel temporarily acknowledged. It means to hold myself during this time. To look outside my window and let life embrace me, too. For me, it’s a deep long, loving hug. It’s saying, “I fully hold you and love you at this time- hard as it is.” And I’m finding, as I embrace my life, life embraces me back.

It sounds a bit funny, but loving ourselves into the whole of our realities can be the very lap we’re looking for.

May you be deeply embraced today.