the star that blazes in you

[There is a tradition of celebrating Epiphany as “Women’s Christmas.” Here is the ending of a poem by Jan Richardson for the occasion:]

… Do not expect
to return
by the same road.
Home is always
by another way,

And you will know it
not by the light
that waits for you

but by the star
that blazes inside you,
telling you
where you are
is holy
and you are welcome
here.

no safe place

[a couple of Advent pieces from a church service this morning seemed worth sharing – don’t miss the song after the reading!]

So there’s no safe place. God, it seems,
might insert himself into any conversation,
any century. Might settle in – any old place,
as he quintessentially did in the West Bank,
Palestine, small town called Bethlehem.
The story is – God breathed himself
into the womb of a woman, turning himself
over to her umbilical care, folding himself
into fetal position, pressing and turning
inside Mary, ‘til she, breathing hard, bore down.
Mary’s womb turned inside out – amniotic
water, gasping infant, placenta spilling
into the night, messy and miraculous
as any birth anywhere and not a safe place.
Did he know – he must have – when he took on
flesh and fingernail and bone marrow,
he would be at our mercy?

For us too, no safe place. For you see what
he’s done – given notice how he, at any time,
might break into our conversation, West Bank,
West Coast, Bethlehem, Vancouver. There’s no place
safe from his radical willingness to be among us.

a capricious little beast

[Here’s a poem by an alumna that speaks to a theme that has seemed very important lately]:

Wait

it’s morning now
I sit down
settle in
light a candle,
and wait

a friend comes to greet me
and I pour out my questions
like hot water over tea leaves
and together,
we wait

other writers guide us
from this poem to that one
a quote here, some words there
all these paradoxes rise and fall
like our ribs as we breathe,
and we wait

only if you are patient
with your questions
only when you cease
the frantic quest
for some certainty
that will cement your faith

only as you wait
still as the oak for her lark
to come home again
to nest in her branches

wait here, just wait
wait with the questions,
sit down and wait

and maybe, maybe you will find
it’s not the answers that you seek
but the questions themselves
the only way you know how to live

and maybe, maybe you will see
that even without the answers
you can go on

accepting as a gift
each moment of grace
accepting as a gift
each mystery and absurdity
accepting as a gift
all the joy and all the frustration

of understanding you will never stop asking
and understanding you will never know
and understanding it’s okay to let go

you do not need what once you sought
that capricious little beast, certainty

  • Ash

a ritual of care

[From a current SSU student – Note: The poetry collection, of which “A Ritual of Care” is a part, is meant to be fluid; shifting shape, emphasis and words to fit the needs of the specific gathering in which it is read. It is meant to be shared with a trusted group as it offers space to fully witness the realities of our time.]

A Ritual of Care

Hello, friends and family
You are most welcome here
Thank you for sharing this hallowed space
Together

Today, we have the opportunity
To bear witness to one another
With all the courage that we possess
We will safeguard one another in care
You are safe here

In doing this
We honour the Creator, who connects us
We honour the child, from which we have grown
We honour our youth, those who speak earnestly
We honour our present selves, we, who are fully alive
We honour our elders, those who have walked this road before and know so much
We honour our ancestors, who we will become

As we bear honest and courageous witness to one another
Our compassion will overflow from our cup to each other’s
We will pass hope like mashed potatoes around a communal table
Our grief melting like butter
Saturated with our abundant tenderness.

Today, let our generosity extend to each other
Within this room and beyond
Let us lend our courage to see each one of us as beloved
We are one creation
Each of us, a whole being

And as we rest together, in the safety of each others spacious arms
We acknowledge our strengths
Our ability to care, deeply and without reserve
We honour our individual longings
And as we metabolize our collective sorrow
We honour each other as we step into compassionate action
May we take this opportunity to become
Tender Alchemist of our time.

  • Marissa Wiebe – June 6, 2020

what you missed

[Maybe you missed last weekend’s “Rain and Snow” festival featuring Pádraig Ó Tuama and many others? Or maybe you were there and now you him, or miss poetry? ]

“What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade”

Mrs. Nelson explained how to stand still and listen
to the wind, how to find meaning in pumping gas,

how peeling potatoes can be a form of prayer. She took
questions on how not to feel lost in the dark.

After lunch she distributed worksheets
that covered ways to remember your grandfather’s

voice. Then the class discussed falling asleep
without feeling you had forgotten to do something else—

something important—and how to believe
the house you wake in is your home….

  • Brad Aaron Modlin, [This is the start of a poem that Padraig shares and discusses in the first episode of the new podcast he started with On Being just before coming to St. Stephen. Hope it whets your appetite for more. Check this out for the full poem and Padraig’s reflection.]