I simply have no words for the treatment of migrants at America’s southern border, so I rely once again on the words of poet Jack Gilbert and the sculpture of Albert Gyorgy to convey feelings intense enough to move us to action.
THE ABANDONED VALLEY
Can you understand
being alone so long
you would go out in the middle of the night
and put a bucket into the
well so you could feel something
tug at the other end of
Jack Gilbert in Refusing Heaven
It’s a soggy summer day in Seattle, folks, a day to silently drink in this pithy piece of wisdom and store it until the sun graces us with its presence again.
Photo Credit: true self portraits https://www.newscientist.com/round-up/your-true-self/
I have been feasting on the book, Whispers in the Wilderness by Erik Stensland. That it was a gift from a friend who has great respect for restoration areas inside and outside, makes my stroll through its pages all the more poignant. In this book Strensland has compiled poignant photographs and reflections from hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. He says this about restoration areas
These [signs] are placed in areas that have been heavily visited, where the feet of far too many people have worn down the grass and flowers to bare dirt, turning a place of lush beauty into an area that resembles a well-used football field….I find great hope in these restoration signs. After years of watching them, I’ve seen these places spring back to life when they are given the space they deserve.
I learned how to give that space to a high school senior once. Her parents had a brief get-a-way on the Labor Day weekend. You can leave a trusted eighteen-year-old alone for two days. But this time a man broke into her home, raped her and forced her to drink poison. Thus began her coveted senior year. After a couple of months of constant police interviews, survivor support group, counseling, compassionate hovering of friends, parents and teachers she put up the sign for me to see, “RESTORATION AREA: STAY OFF.” I had seen her sitting on the floor before her locker and sat down beside her, asking the dreaded question, “So, how are you doing?” She was in desperate need of being left alone for a while, to restore, to find her center and get back to it.
I could relate. I was twenty-seven in 1976 when the group I was a part of gave over all of our power to an abusive psychologist who experimented with “Disclosure-Confrontation” marathon sessions. At one point in that journey I thought I was losing my mind, I so desperately needed space away from the others. I found the courage to plant the restoration sign in the ground of my soul, and was gradually restored.
It’s a matter of timing and we need to discern what time it is. Is it time to reach out with physical presence and words, or is it time to hold vigil in the quiet space we give the other? May we listen compassionately and wisely.
Photo Credit: pexels.com
This gift of wisdom came to me this morning and reminded me of a poem I wrote earlier. I invite you to meander between the words, between the lines.
A clear radiant unselfishness at the core of your being is a vital source of power and influence. It spreads as surely as ripples on a pond when a stone is tossed into the center. A sincere reliance on your own integrity generates supreme good fortune. I Ching 61 Centering in Truth
“SoulCards” by Deborah Koff-Chapin. The technique Deborah has created is called “touch drawing.” The cards come in two decks of 60 images and can be used alone or with others as reflection tools. They have enriched my meditation for years and have helped those I companion with. www.soulcards.com
Used with permission from the artist
Meister Eckhart’s Refectory
I relished some time with my old friend Meister Eckhart this morning. I invite you into this meandering, while acknowledging that it is a bit out there (maybe more than a bit!)
Once again I am honored to introduce you to a freshly published volume of poetry penned by my friend Kay Mullen. You can read more about it and order a copy at her website.
I leave you now with a glimpse into kay and a taste of her poetry.
[…in later life] Kay… earned a Master of Fine Arts from Pacific Lutheran University with a focus on poetry. She received a First Place in the Washington State William Stafford Award and was a Best of the Net nominee as well as a multiple Pushcart Prize nominee. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Shark Reef, and Literature and Belief. Anthologies include Becoming: What Make a Woman, edited by Jill McCabe Johnson, and Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose About Alzheimer’s Disease, edited by Holly Hughes.
…Looking back on her writing she states: “I realize I intuitively strove to follow my birth mother’s music and artistic gifts somehow weaving them into my poems. My mother left me a legacy I discovered long after her death. She has become alive again in my poetry.” www.kaymullen.org
Photo Credit: https://www.pexels.com/search/nautilous%20shell/
Members and staff of Seattle Mennonite Church recently sat down with members of the LGTBQ community to hear their need for respectful inclusion and their practical suggestions for responding to it. My faith community took a step on our journey toward radical hospitality by changing the signs on our bathroom doors. Pastor Amy’s blessing in our names holds us responsible for personal and communal conversion. It is a step toward realizing our commitment to radical hospitality.
In worship Sunday we blessed our new all-gender restroom signs and some trans and rainbow pride stickers for our windows to the world and (re-)committed to our ongoing work of radical hospitality and of (un-) and (re-)learning. Then one of our amazing kids Sunday School teachers invited his class to make a list of “things people say are boy and girl things” and discussed who decides which are which (kid answer: we do). Then they made their own trans flag with those things. #church (Pastor Amy Epp, Seattle Mennonite Church)
Blessing for gender-inclusive and trans welcome signs
Based on Acts 10
by Pastor Amy Marie Epp
God who is all gender and no gender,
God who became incarnate in a body, who is no-body
God who created our bodies and identities
and is present in each of our bodies,
expressed through our identities,
Bless the work of the Gender Hospitality Ministry Team,
As, on behalf of our congregation
they seek to make explicit our welcome
of your beloved queer and trans bodies
into our worship and spaces.
May we truly proclaim, holy and what you have called holy.
May we proclaim welcome what you proclaim welcome.
May we, like Peter, see clearly the vision
that allows us to lean deep
into our identity as a body of radical hospitality
May these signs – markers for our doors and windows –
also mark us.
May they mark us and our doors as open.
Open to your Spirit and open to all who enter,
That your welcome may be our welcome.
And that even when we harbor fear and uncertainty
we may use these as an opportunity for understanding
– of ourselves and of our neighbor.
We pray in the name of Jesus,
whose Spirit is with us and welcoming us still.