Wishing you pleasant end-of-the-year celebrations and peace-of-heart in 2018

“I give you this to take with you: Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can begin again with pure joy in the uprooting.” Judith Minty, Letters to My Daughters


I am on vacation through January 3, 2018.

  • Wednesday Writing Prompt will resume on January 3rd.
  • Sunday Announcements will resume on January 7th.

The BeZine will go to a quarterly schedule in 2018:

  • March 2018 issue, Deadline February 10th. Theme: Peace.
  • June 2018 issue, Deadline May 10th. Theme: Sustainability
  • September 2018 issue, Deadline August 10th, Theme: Human Rights/Social Justice
  • December 2018 issue, Deadline November 10th, Theme: A Life of the Spirit

Look for updated submission guidelines after the first of the year.

Thank you for your support, kind comments and sharing through The Poet by Day site this past year. In a world gone mad, you are the hope, the grace, and the voices of sanity. Poetry is the flagpole around which we gather in compassion and acceptance.  You are valued.

Warmly,
Jamie


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The BeZine, December 2017, Vol. 4, Issue 3, A Life of the Spirit

“The spiritual life . . . is not achieved by denying one part of life for the sake of another. The spiritual life is achieved only by listening to all of life and learning to respond to each of its dimensions wholly and with integrity.” Sister Joan D. Chittister, Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today

The theme this month is “Spiritual Paradigms, Awakenings, Miracles.”  I expected to get submissions that spanned the distance from atheism and agnosticism to firmly entrenched faith, which I did. I did not expect to get several notes from writers and poets who admitted that though they wanted to contribute, they found themselves seriously blocked. Despair. Depression. Those two do confound our creativity and both are rife in a world where 1.6 million people lack access to adequate housing (Habitat.org), where forced displacement is “an unpresidented 65.6 million people” (UNHCR, The UN Refugee Agency) and where, while hunger in general is on the decline, 3.1 million children still die of malnutrition each year (Independent).

For people in kinder circumstances it’s often near impossible to reconcile with the realities of physical illness, disability and mortality, poverty and food “insecurity”, decreased opportunity/upward mobility, and difficulty finding employment and/or getting an education. These circumstances create anger and make it understadable that some doubt a compassionate God or simply find it impossible to believe in a God at all. My own thought is that perhaps God, like Creation, is evolving. That thought is not new with me.

Having said all that, what for me came through in reading submissions is that atheist or agnostic, religionist or independent spiritual being, all have a Life of the Spirit. The spark of Light is clear from the writing desk to the neighborhood bar. Sometimes the Light goes by other names: Hope, Compassion, Wisdom, Generosity. To paraphrase Rabbi Meachem Mendel Morgenszter of Kotak, Poland, God (however you might define that Being) is found wherever you let the Light in.

This month we are proud to introduce a wealth of new-to-us writers: Julie Henderson (U.S.), Eithne Lannon (Ireland), Imelda Santore (Philippines), Mike Stone (Israel), Anthony Vano (U.S.), and Ali Znaidi (Tunisia). We welcome back: bogpan (Bozhidar Pangelov, Bulgaria), Paul Brookes (England), Kakali DasGhosh (India), Mark Heathcote (England), Juli [Juxtaposed] (England), Michele Riedel (U.S.), and Sonja Benskin Mesher (England).

My warm thanks to all twelve members of our core team, some of whom have contributed poems or feature material to this issue: John Anstie (England), Naomi Baltuck (U.S.), James R. Cowles (U.S.), Michael Dickel (Israel), Joe Hesch (U.S.), Charlie Martin (U.S.), and Corina Ravenscraft (U.S.).

On behalf of our entire core team, The Bardo Group Beguines, I wish everyone wonderful year-end celebrations and a peaceful 2018.

In the spirit of peace, love (respect) and community,
Jamie Dedes,
Founding and Managing Editor,
The BeZine

A LIFE OF THE SPIRIT

How to read this issue of THE BeZINE:

Click HERE to read the entire magazine by scrolling, or
You can read each piece individually by clicking the links in the Table of Contents.
To learn more about our guests contributors, please link HERE.
To learn more about our core team members, please link HERE.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Editorial

A Frozen Spring, Juli [Juxtaposed]

BeAttitudes

The Light of Laughter, Corina Ravenscraft
Looking for the Light, Naomi Baltuck
The Spiritual Life Is One of Constant Choices, Henri Neuwen

Essays

Toward Becoming “UnLapsed”, James R. Cowles
Old Church, Old Hat …?, John Anstie

Creative Nonfiction

Stelle Nacht, Joseph Hesch
Wild Turkey Neat, Anthony Vano

Poetry

For Christmas, John Anstie

Christmas, bogan

Ash and Prayer, Paul Brookes

#I just washed#, Kakali DasGhosh

Selections from Nothing Remembers, Michael Dickel

Braid Your Hair with His, Mark Heathcote
There Is Music in Silence, Mark Heathcote

Workshop, Julie Henderson

December Sky, Joseph Hesch
Our Better Angles, Joseph Hosch

‘especially in times of dark’, Juli [Juxtaposed]

Earth Music, Eithne Lannon

full circle, Charles W. Martin

.saint anthony., Sonja Benskin Mesher

Waiting for My Nails to Dry, Michele Riedel

The Scent of a Soul, Imelda Santore

Contradictions, Mike Stone
A Word’s Worth, Mike Stone
A True Believer, Mike Stone
By the River Jordan, Mike Stone

Sufi Gazel, Ali Znaidi
Doubt, Ali Znaidi
Mysticism on the Move, Ali Znaidi

EXCEPT WHERE OTHERWISE NOTED,
ALL WORKS IN “THE BEZINE” ©2017 BY THE AUTHOR / CREATOR


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SUBMISSIONS:

Read Info/Missions StatementSubmission Guidelines, and at least one issue before you submit. Updates on Calls for Submissions and other activities are posted every Sunday in Sunday Announcements on The Poet by Day.

December poems ~ “Look to the Light” (Hanukkah), “The Magnificat” (Advent and Christmas) & Mevlûd-i Peygamberi (the Birth of the Prophet)

My soul magnifies the Lord ...


Look to the light, the light in the window,
The simple lit candles that shimmer and shine.
The message is clear as simple lit candles,
The passion for freedom is yours and is mine.
– Rabbi Dan Grossman

December is a month rich in the holy days of the Abrahamic traditions. Jews celebrate Hanukkah, a commemoration of the Jewish reclamation of The Temple of Jerusalem in 164 B.C.E. Christians celebrate Advent – a period of waiting for the birth of Christ – followed by His birth, Christmas.  Muslims celebrate the birth of the Prophet in November or December depending on the lunar calendar. We do not need faith to appreciate the beautiful poems, music and artwork inspired by our religions, Abrahamic or others.


Look to the Light

Menorah

Menorah

In 164 B.C.E., the Syrians who ruled Israel took away the Jews’ right to practice their religion. Led by Judah Maccabee the Jews rebelled and succeeded in reclaiming their sovereignty and they rededicated The Temple of Jerusalem. The history of the celebration of Hanukkah has had some interesting turns in more recent times.

There’s a story of a young Polish soldier in then General George Washington’s army who held a solitary Hanukkah celebration on a cold night in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  The soldier gently placed his family’s menorah in the snow and lighted the first of eight candles for the first night of Hanukkah. The man was perhaps a bit homesick and missing his family. He must have thought about how much they’d suffered over time from religious persecution. There were tears in his eyes when General Washington found him. Washington wondered what the young man was doing and why he was crying. The soldier told his general the story of Maccabee and the other Jews. It is said that Washington was heartened by the telling and moved on to battle and victory. That menorah is now on display at the Smithsonian Museum.

Yet another story surfaces in 1993 Billings, Montana where a family was lighting their menorah one night. As is custom, they placed the lighted menorah in the front window of their home where it was stoned by anti-Semites, as were the homes of other Jewish families that same evening. The town newspaper printed dozens of menorahs.  Rev. Keith Torney, a minister of the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, distributed them to all the Christians and the paper menorahs were placed in windows all over Billings as a sign of solidarity and of respect for the freedom to practice religion as one’s conscience dictates.

Look to the Light is a commemorative poem written by Rabbi Daniel Grossman and set to music by Meira Warshauer. Enjoy!  … but if you are viewing this from an email subscription, you’ll have to link through to the web/zine to view and hear it.


The Magnificat

The Ode of Theotokos (Song of the God Bearer)

It is only in the Gospel of Luke that we read of Mary’s recitation of this poem that harkens back to Jewish prophecy and is constructed in the traditional verse style of the times with mirroring and synonymous parallelism.

From the Book of Common Prayer

My soul doth magnify the Lord: and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regardeded: the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that respect him : throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holden his servant Israel : as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.


The Prophet’s Nativity

A book explaining the meaning of the term Jashan e Eid Milad un Nabi

A book explaining the meaning of the phrase Jashan e Eid Milad un Nabi

One poem that celebrates Mawlid, the birth of the Prophet, is exceptionally sweet. It was written by the Turkish Süleyman Çelebi (also known as Süleyman Of Bursa) who died in 1429. You’ll note that in addition to honoring the Prophet Mohammad,  it honors three mothers: Asiya the mother of Moses, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Amina the mother of the Prophet.

Mevlûd-i Peygamberi, Hymn of the Prophet’s Nativity

Some have said that of these charming three
One was Asiya of moonlike face,
One was Lady Mary without doubt,
And the third a houri beautiful.

Then these moonfaced three drew gently near
And they greeted me with kindness here;
Then they sat around me, and they gave
The good tidings of Muhammad’s birth;
Said to me: “A son like this your son
Has not come since God has made this world,
And the Mighty One did never grant
Such a lovely son as will be yours.

You have found great happiness,
O dear, 
For from you that virtuous one is born!
He that comes is King of Knowledge high,
Is the mine of gnosis and tawhid*
For the love of him the sky revolves,
Men and jinn are longing for his face.

This night is the night that he, so pure
Will suffuse the worlds with radiant light!
This night, earth becomes a Paradise,
This night God shows mercy to the world.
This night those with heart are filled with joy,
This night gives the lovers a new life.

Mercy for the worlds is Mustafa,
Sinners’ intercessors: Mustafa!

– Süleyman Of Bursa 

* monotheism

Photocredits: (1) © Jamie Dedes,The first illustration was created using a public domain photograph of The Magnificat (Le magnificat) by James Tissot; (2)Hanukkah Lamp, Lemberg (Lviv, Ukraine), 1867–72 from the collection of The Jewish Museum of New York under CC BY-SA 3.0; (3) Photograph of a book explaining the meaning of the phrase Jashan e Eid Milad un Nabi by Saudmujadid under CC BY-SA 4.0

When Sexual Violence Goes Public, an essay by Michael Watson, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC

Regular Wednesday Writing Prompts will resume on January 3, 2018. This thoughtful piece is shared here with Michael’s permission. It was originally published on his blog, Dreaming the World.

Well, the weather turned warm again, with a bit of rain; now the temperature is dropping slowly and there are hints of blue through the overcast. There are rumors of a snowstorm next week and more before Christmas. We shall see.

Here in North America we tend to forget how pervasive sexual violence is, and how retraumatizing public conversations about sexual abuse and harassment can be for victims of sexual crimes.

This was brought home to me again yesterday while speaking with a colleague in Boston. She works with severely traumatized individuals and spoke about her clients’ experiences of retraumatization due to the recent flood of sexual assault accusations against prominent men. We agreed the resulting, much-needed, public discussion about sexual assault has resulted in a cascade of memories and fear for our clients. This adds to the retraumatization caused by the behavior of government officials who seem Hell-bent on glamorizing sexual assault while destroying the social framework. We also agreed we are experiencing much increased anxiety as we try to understand how to provide some sense of safety to our clients and ourselves in an increasingly difficult social environment.

Not surprisingly, our culture’s focus on sexual assaults and intimidation by males has felt isolating for clients who were abused or harassed by women. Somehow we as a society appear to have once again lost sight of the uncomfortable fact that women can also be abusive. Perhaps there is less attention to assaults by women simply because abuse and harassment at the hands of women appears to be underreported in general. In addition, men, particularly, report experiencing more shame when speaking of being abused by women and are, thus, more reticent to report being assaulted.

The sad truth is that people of all genders are capable of harming others when given the opportunity. Further, such abuses become more frequent when openly, or tacitly, accepted by communities. I’m sure we will hear much more about sexual abuse by persons with power in the days to come. How we respond is crucial.

© 2017, Michael Watson, essay and photograph, All rights reserved


Michael Watson

MICHAEL WATSON, LCMHC (Dreaming the World) is a poet of the spirit, if not of the pen, and a contributing editor to The BeZine, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, psychotherapist, educator and artist of Native American and European descent.

Michael lives and works in Burlington, Vermont,where he is retired from his teaching position in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College. He was once Dean of Students there. He also had wonderful experiences teaching in India and Hong Kong, which he’s documented on his blog, Dreaming the World. In childhood Michael had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.


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