Given the current divisive atmosphere and mean narratives, I feel compelled some evenings to share information and inspiration on topics other than poetry, which support our shared ideals.
In a courageous and compassionate move two faith organizations in my neighborhood just announced that their congregations have voted by overwhelming majorities to give physical sanctuary to vulnerable neighbors, the kind of move that has growing support across the United States under the banner of The New Sanctuary Movement, a movement with historic roots in human sanctuary (as opposed to spiritual sanctuary) in England, 600 A.D. This latest revival is a renewal of the 80s Sanctuary Movement in the U.S.
In the 1980s faith organizations were responsible for transporting and sheltering some 500,000 escaping the violence in Central America. Hundreds of congregations sheltered refugees and moved them to the U.S. and Canada.
Why give sanctuary:
The Rev. Ben Meyers minister of the Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo states: “Our Unitarian Universalist principles call us to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of all people; to seek justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, and to create world community with peace, liberty and justice for all. We commit our values to action as we work with other people of faith and moral conscience congruent with these principles and this purpose. Deportation of our neighbors and the breaking up of immigrant families in our communities are among the most compelling social justice issues of our time. Standing together on the side of love, our faith communities can make a real difference.”
The Rev. Dr. G. Penny Nixon, senior minister of the Congregational Church of San Mateo says: “Each week we gather in our beautiful sanctuary to remember who we are as a people of faith who follow the teachings of Jesus. For us, providing refuge means opening that sanctuary as a “safe place” to those who are an integral part of our community, and providing a haven for families to stay together.” –The Rev. Dr. G. Penny Nixon, senior minister of the Congregational Church of San Mateo
I do not represent either of the churches featured here this evening nor speak for their ministers and congregations, but this story is compelling. I hope that by featuring their justice efforts other faith organizations that haven’t picked up the banner will do so. If your synagogue, church, temple or mosque is not in the process of becoming sanctuary, then please consider initiating that conversation. If you are the leader in a faith organization or a professional journalist who would like more information, contact the ministers at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me via direct message on Facebook or email@example.com and I’ll be happy to connect you.
Gary Bowers (One With Clay) is one of our triple-threat poets: poetry, art and humor. Words like “quick-witted” and “pithy” come to mind. He is adapt at combing his talents and this is a post he created, which I will cherish. It’s always nice to be acknowledged and Gary is particularly kind to me. Thank you, Gary! This is sweet and clever. There’s a lot more of Gary’s poetry, art and unique style to be enjoyed on Gary’s blog,where he often acknowledges other creatives. Recommended. J.D.
Jamie Dedes is alive, though she was given but two years to live in a prognosis delivered before the end of the last century. She credits her son and “an extraordinary medical team” for her continued existence. Though I don’t know her well–I don’t even know how many syllables are in her last name, much less how to pronounce it–I would venture to add that Moxie also has something to it.
For she has Moxie in abundance. She cares enough about poetry and its practitioners to have created and maintained an outstanding resource-blog called THE POET BY DAY, which connects poets via showcased poet exemplars, essays, links to items of interest to poets, her own poems, and on Wednesdays, those springboarding challenges known as prompts, which are invitations to write about a specific thing, or on a certain theme, or some other limiting, focusing factor.
And it was a week ago Wednesday that I responded to one such prompt. This one:
Write a poem, a fiction or a creative nonfiction piece telling us how you envision a feminine God or about the feminine side of God. What might S/he be like? Does/would such a view change the way you feel about yourself and the world? Would it change the world? How? You don’t need to believe in God or in a feminine aspect of God. This is an exercise in imagination not faith. Have fun with the exercise and if you feel comfortable, share the piece or the link to the piece below so that we might all enjoy.
For some reason this prompt struck a chord and got me going. I don’t know if there is a Supreme Being. I have certain feelings but I don’t trust them, being a rationalizer and wishful-thinker. A much more intelligent man than I am, Stephen Hawking, envisions a cosmology that, in the words of Carl Sagan in his introduction to Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, gives “nothing for a Creator to do.” In other words, Hawking’s universe has no need for a Creator.
But if there IS a Supreme Being, it makes sense to me, since the Supreme Being brought us all to be, that since that Being birthed us all, that She be a mother. And so I took a weird word from a conspiracy theory about our 44th President, Barack Obama, for a title, and was off to the races imagining God as Mom:
thou residest betwixt r and t
god s be thy name
birther of us all
mixmistress of galaxies
crecher of clusters
ovulatrix of ylem
thy mother’s care is in the dew
thy admonishment is in the don’t
and when we want to play in the woods of reckless fun
thou respondest “we’ll see”
which almost always means “fat chance”
thy human smartalecks speak of heat death
it is merely a pause
in thy menopause
and soon thou’lt bake us cosmic cookies again
thanks for Ever
Sure was fun to write, and oddly, bouncily, spiritually uplifting. Things just seemed to naturally occur: the Heat Death of the Universe resonates with the “hot flash” of menopause–hey how bout that, menoPAUSE–perhaps prelusive of the Big Crunch and the next Bang–and double up on “baking us cosmic cookies” with us being some of the cosmic cookies She bakes–and Everything with the y, possibly the Spanish “and,” joining Ever and Thing–and the French word for Mama, maman, slightly hinting at both “amen” and “ma MAN.” Wrote it first, realized it later. Could it be that She helped? Fun to think so.
I posted “birther” in the Comments section of Jamie’s post, and she replied that she loved it and wanted to include it in her following-Tuesday post. I happily agreed, and supplied a photo and my poet’s curriculum vitae at her request. She published my and three other poets’ responses to her prompt last Tuesday, and I was proud and happy enough to be in such august company that I put a link to her post on my Facebook Timeline.
As fate would have it, the next day was Jamie’s Birthday, and it was there I learned about her “Sixty-seven Years on the Razor’s Edge.” You can too, and I think you should. HERE is a link.
One thing I’d left out of my poet’s biography was the fact that my specialty is Acrostic poetry, i.e. poems where the first and/or last and/or midstream letters of the poem form words. In my gratitude to Jamie, and wanting to show off a little of this weird skill, I composed and illustrated a birthday acrostic for her, thus:
Here are the words of what may be the first birthday-occasion, acrostic, limerickal, end-words-all-rhyme-or-nearly-so poem in human history:
Jamaica may thrill, undenied,
And Nawlins is burstful with pride;
MARVEL at, though, who’s hied
In the clouds with her stride,
Energetically shifting the tides.
The recommended read for this week is Ted Kooser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets. There’s so much I like about this manual. For one thing, Ted assumes that if you are a heavy-duty reader, you already know quite a bit. After all, one of the best ways to learn to write is to read. He operates on the moral principle that if you have a gift then you have the obligation to offer something by way of giving back. He says, “I hope I won’t exhaust your patience” and he doesn’t. He assumes that our ultimate goal is to reach others and to move them, so there is a great deal of emphasis on the relationship between the poet and her reader. He discusses our job as poet – not money, not fame – but “to serve the poems we write.” This perspective makes reading and working with Ted Kooser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manualan refreshing guide to the poetic terrain for both budding and experienced writers interested in creating work that is fulfilling and truly artistic.
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