a story of faith, hope and love

IMG_1955I feel almost inclined to start this story with “once upon a time” since it feels that we began our adventure so long ago.  I started The Bardo Group (though it wasn’t titled that way to begin with) in 2011 as a way to encourage a sort of world without borders by having people from different cultures and religions come together to show what’s in their hearts and in doing so to demonstrate that with all our differences we have much in common: our dreams and hopes, our plans for children and grandchildren, our love of family, friends and the spiritual traditions we’ve chosen or into which we were born  . . . not to mention our love of sacred space as it is expressed in the arts and our concerns for peace, social justice and sustainability.

At one point I decided that it would be nice to have a sort of virtual Sunday service and invited Terri Stewart, a Methodist Minister, to be our “Sunday Chaplain.”  In 2008 she founded Beguine Again, an interfaith platform for clerics and spiritual teachers to offer daily solace and inspiration. I felt comfortable inviting Terri in because she didn’t want to convert anyone and seemed to appreciate the beauty and wisdom of traditions other than her own. She even incorporated the wisdom of other traditions in her rituals and writings. Terri supported our mission. She didn’t appear threatened by different opinions or beliefs.

A little over a year ago, I suggested we might throw our two efforts together, Beguine Again and The Bardo Group. I hoped that would ensure the continuation of the The Bardo Group and the wise, beautiful and valued work and ideals of our core team and guests, a group of earnest and talented poets, writers, story-tellers, essayists, artists, photographers and musicians.  Each is a strong advocate for a better – fair, peaceful and sustainable – world. Together they are a powerhouse.

Okay, yes!  I’m a bit biased.  I’ve only met one of our group in person and only talked by phone with Terri,  but I’ve read everyone’s work – their emails, messages, books, blogs and FB posts for years now.  We’ve been through deaths in families, births and birthdays, graduations, illness and recovery, major relocations, wars and gunfire, triumphs and failures. Two of our original contributors have died. I feel that our core team and our guests might be my next-door neighbors instead of residing in  Romania, England, Algeria, the Philippines, Israel, India, Greece, Bulgaria, the United States and other countries I’ve probably forgotten. We’ve featured work by people ranging in age – as near as I can guess – from 19 to nearly 90. They’ve been Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists and agnostics. The growth of our readership is slow but steady, loyal and just as diverse as our core team and guests.

So what did we do to facilitate this merger: At Beguine Again daily posts continued. That team joined The Bardo Group. We stopped posting daily on The Bardo Group site and started The BeZine, a monthly online publication with a fresh theme for each issue. Terri got a grant to establish a community website from the Pacific Northwest United Methodist Church. The website has been over a year in the works. Today, we unveil it.

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The site is designed to be a spiritual networking community.  Though it is an extended ministry of the Lake Washington United Methodist Church, this effort remains both interfaith and a labor of love.

The site is supported by donations, membership (paid membership is optional) and a generous grant from Pacific Northwest United Methodist Church, which funded the design and development of the site. The grant from the church ends on December 31, 2015. Donations and membership fees will support the cost of technical assistance, web hosting and so forth. Should there be any excess funds they will go to the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition, a Seattle nonprofit (also interfaith) founded by Terri under the aegis of the church. Coalition members provide assistance to incarcerated youth. No income is earned by anyone associated with Beguine Again, The Bardo Group, The BeZine or the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition.  All are labors of love.

The BeZine can still be conveniently and easily accessed either directly HERE or through BeguineAgain if you choose to become a member of the community.

Please check out the site. Any questions? Let us know … and do let us know what you think. Please be patient too.  The tech gremlins are still working behind the scenes.

A note on the name: Beguine Again.  The original Beguine community was a Christian lay order in Europe that was active between the 13th and 16th century.  Terri chose the name “Because they worked outside the religious structure and were a safe place for vulnerable people.”

© 2015, article and photograph, Jamie Dedes; Beguine Again logo, copyright Beguine Again

100,000 Poets (and other artists and friends) for Change, 26 September 2015, event posters from around the world

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As of this writing, there are over 500 events scheduled around the world. To find an event near you or to register an event that you are organizing go to 100TPC.

Our own (The Bardo Groupand Beguine Again – publishers of The BeZine) virtual event is scheduled to be held at The BeZine blog on 26 September 2015. You are invited to join us by linking in your relevant work on poverty  (our theme this year) through Mr. Linky (directions will be included in the post that day) or simply by adding your link or your work in the comments.  You retain your own copyright.  All the links and works will be collected and posted in a Page at The BeZine and also archived at 100TPC.  So, think about and prepare something you’d like to share so you can have your say and feature your own work.

To “meet” our host for that event, American-Israeli Poet Michael Dickel, link HERE.

To “meet” the founders of 100TPC, link HERE.

The BeZine, June 2015, Vol. 1, Issue 8, Table of Contents with Links

June 15, 2015

 DIVERSITY/INCLUSION

The evolution will be poemed, painted, photographed, documented, blogged, set to music and told in story.

The evolution will be delivered by a rainbow of human beings, everyday sort of folk ….  

The evolution will not be televised.

There are people for whom the arts exists almost exclusively as an aid to social change, to political discourse– not as some sort of didacticism – but as a discussion, a wake up call, a way of approaching some truth, finding some meaning, encouraging resolution. Many of us here number among them. All of us hope for kind, just and rational social change.

We write and dream about an inclusive appreciation of diversity that will promote a world without war, a world that respects all sentient life, all humans no matter their race or national origin, religion or lack thereof, economic or social status, mental or physical disability, age or sex, or sexual preference or gender orientation. We dream of a humanity that recognizes itself as an element of the natural environment not something apart from and over it.

We may be inspired by personal experience like Colin Stewart – our youngest ever contributor – who bravely articulates his experience of being bullied and marginalized in school in No Child Is Safe. Michael Watson, a therapist, a Native American shaman and a polio victim brings us  Still Here: Meditations on Disabilism and Lara/Trace Writes About Residential Schools, those schools established ” to save the person by removing the Indian.”

For some people the impetus is the direct experience of war, which is the ultimate expression of hate and exclusion. Silva Merjanian gifts us with an essay this month, As with any war …  Silva grew up in a war-torn Beirut. And, new to us is Michael Dickel, an American-Israeli who offers three poems from his new book War Surrounds Us.

Priscilla Galasso, whose appreciation for nature has birthed so many wonderful essays here, askes us to consider the diversity in nature, worthy of nurture and celebration not for ourselves but for its very isness in her essay Diversity and Car(ry)ing Capacity — Spiritual Lessons from Nature. 

The love of our children is a sure motivation to write about and work for respect and inclusion. We see this in Naomi Baltuck’s touching Mine (yours, ours), the second of our two lead features.

The muse is inspired by empathy and ideals, observation and proximity. Terri Stewart gives us one of our lead pieces this month, a moving poem, Created to Be Included. Sharon Frye shows a tender understanding of a Vietnamese refugee in her poem At Model Nails. This is the first time Sharon’s work is included here, but her poetry has found a home in many other publications including The Galway Review, The Portuguese journal, “O Equador das Coisas,” Mad Swirl, and The Blue Max Review (Ireland).

Sometimes the lives and work of  people who lived at other times and/or other places resonates for us. Roses and Their Homilies is an homage to Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz, the stellar poet of 17th Century New Spain. The clerical authority of her day simply could not put  her intellect together with her womanhood. Tragically for her and for us, this caused her to give up her writing five years before her death.

Each month the core team picks a theme.  We don’t dictate the slant.  We give everyone free rein. It’s always a surprise to see how the theme is addressed, who will hammer the theme dead on and who will address it obliquely. This month, when all the work was read, sorted and organized, most of us chose to “celebrate” diversity by illustrating just how slow and insufficient are the reforms and just how resistant humanity can be to inclusion. There is some deeply passionate work here.

I can’t help but think that the justice so many of us seek is rooted in transforming values. Hence, it is more evolutionary than revolutionary. Perhaps it is most evident in our blogosphere and social networking, in the heart-born prose and poems of simple folk like you and me with nary a politician or corporatist among us.

Perhaps the true evolution – the one that will foster permanent transformation – is a bottom-up thing, more likely to be blogged than broadcast, rising from homespun poetry and outsider art – sometimes rudimentary and awkward, but always quiet and true and slow like a secret whispered from one person to the next. It is something stewing even as we write, paint, make music, read and encourage one another. There is bone and muscle in what we do. Individually we have small “audiences.” Collectively we speak to enormous and geographically diverse populations.

I think I hear keyboards clicking and bare feet marching. Or perhaps poetic fancy has caught my spirit tonight and all is dream …I hope not. Write on … Read on … and be the peace …

So let some impact from my words echo resonance 
lend impulse to the bright looming dawn

Dennis Brutus (1924-2009), South African poet, journalist, activist and educator

In the spirit of peace, love and community,
Jamie Dedes

TABLE OF CONTENTS WITH LINKS

Diversity/Inclusion

Lead Features

Created To Be Included, Terri Stewart
Mine (yours, ours), Naomi Baltuck

LGBT

Darkness,  Colin Jon david Stewart
No Child Is Safe, Terri Stewart and Colin Jon david Stewart

Nature

Diversity and Car(ry)ing Capacity, Priscilla Galasso
Putting the “Action” in Activism, Corina Ravenscraft
The Clearest Way to the Universe, James Cowles

Native American

Lara/Trace Writes About Residential Schools, Michael Watson

Disabled

Still Here: Writing Against Disablism, Michael Watson

Refugee

At Model Nails, Sharon Frye

War/Conflict

Again, Michael Dickel
Musical Meditations, Michael Dickel
The Roses, Michael Dickel
As with any war …, Silva Merjanian
Borrowed Sugar, Silva Merjanian

Women

Roses and Their Homilies, Jamie Dedes

General Interest

Essay

British Bulldogs, Great Speeches … and poetry, John Anstie

Poetry

Rooftop Icarus, Joeseph Hesch
Prelude, Voice Aquiver, Sharon Frye
Growth Ring, Sharon Frye
Time Lapse, Liliana Negoi
for us, Liliana Negoi
dancing toward infinity, Jamie Dedes

Photo Stories

An Open Book, Naomi Baltuck
If Not for His Wife, Naomi Baltuck

OUR FABULOUS HEADER PHOTOGRAPH THIS MONTH IS THE WORK OF TERRI STEWART UNDER CC (BY-NC) LICENSE.

BIOS WITH LINKS TO OTHER WORKS BY OUR CORE TEAM AND GUEST WRITERS

FOR UPDATES AND INSPIRATION “LIKE” OUR FACEBOOK PAGE, THE BARDO GROUP/BEGUINE AGAIN

MISSION STATEMENT

Back Issues Archive
October/November 2014, First Issue
December 2014, Preparation
January 2015, The Divine Feminine
February 2015, Abundance/Lack of Abundance
March 2015, Renewal
April 2015, interNational Poetry Month
May 2015, Storytelling

The BeZine, May 2015, Vol. 1, Issue 7, Table of Contents with Links

640px-The_Historian_(The_How_and_Why_Library)Storytelling: It’s a means by which we are entertained but also by which we explore meaning and develop our internal fortitude, our moral fiber, values and identity … At least that was the purpose before storytelling was so grossly co-opted by marketing and its push toward accumulation and self-aggrandizement.  This month in our lead feature, Healing Stories, Michael Watson, therapist and Native American shaman, explores the power of storytelling to heal in the context of tradition and of therapy.

Our resident professional storyteller, Naomi Baltuck, gifts us with four photo stories, small gems that will make you smile and laugh and remind you of what really matters in life.

The poem, Mourning Brooch, reflects on the power of memory when it evolves into story. John Anstie‘s poem is a love story for his grandson. How many of us have told our children or grandchildren stories about their birth, it’s meaning to us, and what we want to leave them as legacy? Turtle Speaks explores meaning in Native American stories about Turtle. Charlie Martin, Joe Hesch and Myra Schneider use poetry to tell their stories or those of others. For Charlie it’s all about social conscience, compassion and justice. For Joe Hesch it’s often about nature and history. For Myra it’s about the different ways that both fine art and everyday things move her … and by extension, us.

Señora Ortega’s Frijoles is a short story about dichos (sayings), which are used to pass tradition and values from one generation to the next … just like storytelling.

Silva Merjanian shares four poems from her second collection, Rumor (Cold River Press).  We introduced Silva here last month.  Silva’s poems tell us the stories of war – not simply a reaction to the news of war as in my own The Doves Have Flown – but her experience of war.

We shared in the last issue that Silva and her publisher are donating all profits from the sale of Rumor to the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund.  As I was preparing this intro I learned that thus far they have raised $1,397.73.  Well and kindly done, Silva.

The use of poetry to raise funds for worthy causes is not new to our contributors and readers.  John Anstie and the Grass Roots Poetry Group donate the funds from Petrichor Rising to UNICEF.  Therein lies another story featured this month: “Petrichor Rising” … or how the Twitterverse birthed friendships that in turn birthed a poetry collection …

With a nod toward spring in the Western Hemisphere, Corina Ravenscraft serves up a charming soupçon of gardening advice, a small treasury of hints to help you garden with simplicity, patience, and compassion.  It’s all about balance, whether you are caring for plants or for your own spirit.

Millais_Boyhood_of_RaleighAs you go through your days, do your work and practice your art, we hope you keep in mind the meaning and value of the stories you hear and read and of your own story as it unfolds. We hope you’ll share your stories in the comment sections here or via books or blogs or at gatherings of family and friends.

Enjoy this issue.  Be sure to “like” and comment to let contributors know what you think and that you value their hard work and their contributions. The BeZine is entirely a volunteer effort, a gift of love. (Our mission statement is HERE.) Any ads you see are not our own.  They are WordPress ads used to defray their cost of hosting blogs and websites.

Be the peace.

Thanks for visiting us.
Jamie Dedes

Illustrations: Header via Wikipedia under CC BY-SA 2.0 license, A very fine par dated 1938 A.D. The epic of Pabuji is an oral epic in the Rajasthani language that tells of the deeds of the folk hero-deity Pabuji, who lived in the 14th century.; photo #1 (public domain) via The How and Why Library, E. Irving Couse, A. N. A.; The Historian; The Indian Artist is painting in sign language, on buckskin, the story of a battle with American Soldiers;  photo #2 (public domain) via Wikipedia, The Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais, oil on canvas, 1870. A seafarer tells the young Sir Walter Raleigh and his brother the story of what happened out at sea.

Core Team and Guest Contributor Biographies

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Lead Feature

Healing Stories by Michael Watson, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC

Photo Stories

Survival Stories by Naomi Baltuck
The Inside Story by Naomi Baltuck
To See the World by Naomi Baltuck
Rather Than Curse the Darkness by Naomi Baltuck

Fiction

 Señora Ortega’s Frijoles by Jamie Dedes

Poetry

An Apology from Your Grandfather by John Anstie

The Mourning Brooch by Jamie Dedes
Turtle Speaks by Jamie Dedes
The Doves Have Flown by Jamie Dedes

The Discovery of Grass by Joseph Hesch
In Audience with the Queen by Joseph Hesch

dance to life’s music by Charles W. Martin
no translation necessary by Charles W. Martin
honey … I swear this is for the birds … by Charles W. Martin

Beirut by Silva Merjanian
Collateral Damage by Silva Merjanian
Doves of Beirut by Silva Merjanian
Rooftop by Silva Merjanian

Bird by Myra Schneider
Milk Bottle by Myra Schneider

Feature Articles

Being a More Compassionate Gardener by Corina Ravenscraft

“Petrichor Rising” … or how the Twitterverse birthed friendships that in turn birthed a poetry collection … by John Anstie and Jamie Dedes