As we build the Beloved Community, we pray for you every day that you might continue to bring it about in your little corner of the world.
Today's Meditation features songwriter Carrie Newcomer reflecting on words and Lectio Divina, letting words rest on our hearts.
We invite you to join us as we commit ourselves to working tirelessly to end systemic and structural racism in our society, in the church, in healthcare, in the workplace--wherever it shows up so that everyone may come to have more abundant life. May this meditation nourish our contemplative-active hearts and sustain all of us in action.
In the spirit of our philosophy of co-creating community and our awareness that the Spirit speaks through each of us, we invite you to share your meditations with us as well. We truly believe that it is God's economy of abundance: when we share our blessings, our thoughts, our feelings, we are all made richer.
We hope and pray that you find peace, healing, hope and the infusion of joy in your life!
With our love and care,
Ron and Jean
MEDITATION: Carrie Newcomer
Thinking About Words
& One Inch Photos
LISTEN TO POST · 6:33
Photo by Luca on Unsplash
Lately, I’ve been reading Pádraig Ó. Tuama’s new book Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World. Its a lovely collection of poetry with insightful commentary by Ó. Tuama, who describes specific features and techniques used in the poem, but also tells his own story about why each poem has become important to him.
Included in the collection is the poem “The Book Of Genesis” written by Kei Miller. In the piece the poet describes the power of language and our relationship to words, pondering the meaning and movement of the word “Let”in the Genesis passage “Let there be light”. In the spiritual text the word “let”is repeated, like the focus line of song chorus. Let, let, let. The word is an invocation of becoming, an affirmation of the sacredness of each thing as it is brought into being.
We are moved by language - how it is sung or spoken, chanted, murmured, shouted or whispered. I read somewhere that there are three things that cannot be taken back: time after it is gone, a stone after it has been thrown, an occasion after it has been missed, and a word after it has been said. Yes, we can make amends, redeem our mistakes by learning from them, step courageously into new opportunities, we can forgive and be forgiven. But the power of a word when released resonates like an echo that bounces down the walls of a long canyon. The Buddhist eightfold path affirms “right speech” and that a compassionate and mindful use of words is an essential spiritual practice. Indeed so many of the world’s important wisdom traditions encourage us to consider the effect our words have upon others.
One of the trends I’ve found deeply concerning in recent years is the use of harmful speech and even flat out lying as an acceptable political strategy. Yes, we can have honest disagreements about how we see the world, how we see policy. But that is very different than when someone, particularly person in political leadership, knows the facts, and still uses a lie as a wedge or weapon, throwing around words in ways that exclude, disempower, shame or deliberately promote hateful ideas. I have lamented the way commercial news programs often keep repeating a lie, because the shock of it draws in the viewer, because it raises ratings. I am concerned when I see people saying things from a keyboard on social media, they would never say to a person sitting across the table from them.
Don’t get me wrong, good journalism is an art-form and a free and honest press is utterly essential for a healthy democracy. But what I am describing is not the art form of thoughtful journalism. What I am lamenting is how “info entertainment” commoditizes a lie, repeating it until the lie or the strategy behind it is normalized. What I am concerned about is how if we are not mindful, the way we use our words can be held at arms distance from the impact they have upon others.
And so I wrestle with the old question of what can one person do when on any given day, I can open my laptop or smartphone and be met with a snowstorm of words that do not help, and at worst are deliberately misleading or harmful. I often find myself looking for words that are true, and when I sense that longing I ask myself “what are the words you are looking for today, and is this the place you will find them?” What are the words I most long to speak today, and how do I speak them honestly, authentically and with awareness? Movements of the heart for truth or justice or transformation usually happen one person, one action, one choice, one word at a time. What I do and say, what you do and say does matter. Whenever we practice right speech, we are shifting the conversation one song, one poem, one word at a time.
There is a practice called Lectio Divina, the mindful meditation upon particular phrases and words, allowing the phrases and words to rest upon the heart. And indeed, there are words, phrases, poems and songs I wear above my heart. I keep them close and they remind me of what I most love. Also when my heart breaks, and my heart will break, these are the words I most want to fall in. During a particularly difficult time in my life, I wrote the words “I love my life enough to save it” on a piece of paper and tucked in my bra right above my heart. I figure during this time people wondered what was crinkling inside my clothes, but I found it to be a powerful and sustaining practice. Since then I often keep words and phrase, on folded bits of paper in my pocket, on my car dashboard, tacked up in my writing room, bearing the words that deepen my life, words that have power, words that are still mysterious, that I am attracted to but don’t yet know why yet…words that expansive like the the word “let” in Kei Miller’s poem.
Thank you for joining me here at A Gathering of Spirts. I really appreciate your words, the comments you make and the spirit of the community gathered here.
Have a great week,
What does the practice of “right speech” mean for you. Do you have words or phrases you wear above your heart, that you call to mind in times of need? Are there words you return to for courage and guidance in unfolding times?
Take a piece of paper. Write down a word or phrase that gives you grounding, comfort, courage or expands your spirit. Fold it an put it in a pocket, in your wallet, in your bra…somewhere you’ll feel it or find it in the course of a day. What did it feel like to have those words physically close to you through the day?
The Book of Genesis
By Kei Miller
Suppose there was a book full only of the word,
let – from whose clipped sound all things began: fir
and firmament, feather, the first whale — and suppose
we could scroll through its pages every day
to find and pronounce a Let meant only for us —
we would stumble through the streets with open books,
eyes crossed from too much reading; we would speak
in auto-rhyme, the world would echo itself — and still
we’d continue in rounds, saying let and let and let
until even silent dreams had been allowed.
More One Inch Photos From My Walks…
Here are are few one inch photos I took this week. I have a practice of taking photos close up, so I really look more closely at appreciate small details.
Thanks for reading and being part of the community! - Carrie