Implicit Bias in Sacred Stories

From my daily practice today, I encountered implicit bias. Implicit bias is: “The attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.  These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control.  Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness.  Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.

The dude in today’s story needs the reiteration of another dude to understand and hear the woman. There you have it.

A Few Key Characteristics of Implicit Biases from the Kirwan Institute:

  • Implicit biases are pervasive.  Everyone possesses them, even people with avowed commitments to impartiality such as judges.
  • Implicit and explicit biases are related but distinct mental constructs.  They are not mutually exclusive and may even reinforce each other.
  • The implicit associations we hold do not necessarily align with our declared beliefs or even reflect stances we would explicitly endorse.
  • We generally tend to hold implicit biases that favor our own ingroup, though research has shown that we can still hold implicit biases against our ingroup.
  • Implicit biases are malleable.  Our brains are incredibly complex, and the implicit associations that we have formed can be gradually unlearned through a variety of debiasing techniques.

Given the events of last week in which implicit bias is seen all over the news (we have seen the news of the 11 Jews gunned down in Pittsburgh and held vigils, but have we seen the news of the 2 black folks gunned down in Kentucky by a white nationalist? And the reticence to label it as a hate crime, although the police are now investigating it as such-after public pressure.  And the dude had tried to enter a traditional black church to gun down folks before he settled on the grocery store.

And implicit bias affects how these killers were taken in. They are both alive and untouched. And yet we hear the call all the time with regard to people of color who are shot and killed–we must keep the community safe–we had no choice but to kill this man in his own backyard (Stephan Clark) or we had no choice but to kill this cooperating man in his own car (Philando Castile). Surely, if they couldn’t be “taken alive,” then two mass murders … well, you know. They were white. Implicit bias affects how we treat and approach folks. If there is bias in favor of whiteness, they there is a chance of having a kinder, gentler approach taken that allows life to continue on. Anyway, my rant of the day.

Onward to my daily practice that instigated it all!

Altar’s smoke rises
Blurring earth and the cosmos
Connecting us all

[end]

Judges 13
This is the beginning of the story of Sampson of the tale of the super strong guy who lost his strength when his wife cut all his hair off.

I was so excited by his birth story that I didn’t read through to the entire allegory. Because, #biblegeek. Come on!

Anyway, I forgot the bit about his parents not having children and that they entertained a stranger who told them they would have a child anyway. Hmm…who does this sound like? Sarah and Abraham? And later, Elizabeth and Zechariah? Miraculous birth stories abound!

What I had remembered was that Sampson was pledged to be a Nazarite from birth. In Numbers 6, the rules for being a Nazarite for “men and women” is revealed. I even looked in the KJV version…the inclusion of women was not a modern-day inclusion. It was there from the beginning. The basic rules for Nazarites was no cutting of hair, no drinking of alcoholic beverages, no going near dead people, dedicated to God.

What I liked most about this story was the birth story and the messenger of God that came to Manoah and his wife (another unnamed woman in the Bible). The messenger goes to Mrs. Manoah first. Then manoah who doesn’t get it and needs clarification and asks for the messenger to come talk to him directly.

Manoah asks the “messenger” to stay so they can have a goat together and the “messenger” says, “No, make a burnt offering to the LORD.” So they do that and when the flames and smoke rises, the “messenger” rises up into the heavens along with the smoke (hence today’s drawing).

Then Manoah declares, “We’ve seen God.” The messenger wasn’t a messenger, it was God.

The leadership challenge may be one of implicit bias. Do we let implicit bias drive our “double checking” of voices (like Mrs. Manoah’s voice) or do we believe them?

Peace,

Rev. Terri Stewart

Note: Terri (a.k.a. Clocked Monk) is a pastor in the United Methodist Church at the Church Council of Greater Seattle’s Youth Chaplaincy Coalition. She is the founder of Beguine Again, focusing on spritual practice and ideals. Terri is a member of the Zine’s core team. Beguine Again is the sister site to The BeZine. ./ Jamie Dedes, Managing Editor

#judges #bible #nonbinary #Lgbtq #queer #metaphor #values #seattleu #Poetry #Leadership #Leaders #Haiku #UMC #Christianity #Poetry #PNWUMC #Scripture #Gonzaga #Seattle #BibleJournaling #BibleJournal #Pastor #Chaplain #seattleu #biblestudy #biblereading #implicitbias

ON THE SOCIAL JUSTICE FRONT: Terri Stewart, Michael Rothenberg, and American Grannies

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.” Bryan Stevenson



The world is rife with injustices that call for our attention and there are many social justice initiatives that bring people together to raise awareness, right wrongs, and offer sucor to the torn and weary.

PROMOTING SOCIAL JUSTICE

While the daily news feeds our sadness, fears and hopelessness, you and I are a reason for joy. If you are reading this, it is likely that you are one of the millions of old souls whose natural instinct is for justice and respect.

There is joy in the fact that so many of us live in a time and place were we can put out a call for solidarity, a call to move on to right and just action. Therein lies our hope and grace and our ability to keep on keeping on.

What an extraordinary thing it is that we have the means, the inner sight, the backbone, and passion for this good work. My hope and strength comes from the poets, writers, artists, clerics,  and readers of every type and from every corner of the world who come together virtually for each edition of the The BeZine, for the yearly 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change, Global, for those who will join in Rev. Terri Stewart’s (Beguine Again and The BeZine) Unite with Might initiative, for the Abuelas (Grandmothers) caravaning to the Mexican Border to support the families crossing into the U.S., and for the many peace and social justice efforts that go on all over the world, even in the darkest places where preaching justice to power invites imprisonment, torture and death.

– Jamie Dedes

UNITE WITH MIGHT

Rev. Terri Stewart, Associate Pastor at Riverton Park United Methodist Church

“We are uniting together to stand against hate and to promote hope, love, and inclusion for all of our neighbors.

“Sometimes it seems that there is so much hatred in the world that it is impossible to know what to do next.  But changing hate to hope, loneliness to love, paranoia to peace, isolation to inclusion, starts with us.  The beloved community.  We are mighty when united for causes that uplift the values of hope, love, and inclusion.  Hence the name, Unite with Might.

“On August 11 and 12, Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler, leaders of the alt-right movement (Unite the Right) that marched in Charlottesville, VA, are having a rally in Washington, D.C. and hope to also rally again in Charlottesville, VA, where a young woman, Heather Heyer, was killed by alt-right marchers.”

Washington, D.C., National Parks Service has approved the alt-right’s permit to gather.

In my faith tradition, the table is where everyone is welcome, included, and finds connection to the ineffable mystery beyond our understanding.  And so we propose gathering around food.  This is a different kind of gathering.  A gathering in each of our communities and each of our homes that opens our doors and hearts to everyone.

  • Churches, Synagogues, Masjids, and other Religious & Cultural Communities!! Hold picnics and BBQ’s!  Read prayers of inclusion!
  • Cities, towns, and counties! Make statements of inclusion for all citizens!
  • Schools!  Ensure that your students know that hate speech is unwelcome and teach them the hard parts of history!
  • Families!  Discuss the history of white supremacy with your children!
  • Bloggers!  Splash the world with a voice that proclaims that this is a new day!

Make a public stand that the alt-right will not win the day.  Love always wins.

Please sign on and let us know if you will be holding an event or making a public statement or declaration where the values of hope, love, and inclusion will be uplifted.  We must let the world know that hate will not win!  And that our numbers are much stronger than the puny amount they expect to rally.  We are strong together!  Mighty!  #UniteWithMight !

Let us know your event or statement so we can see the results of our unity in its beautiful diversity by signing up at this link.

Our website is: www.UniteWithMight.com

Sincerely,
Rev. Terri Jane Stewart


Note: We are hosting a virtual Unite with Might event at The BeZine on August 11 and 12. You’ll be able to post thoughts, activies, videos, art, poetry – whatever can go into a comment. This will enable your support and participation even if there is no event accessible near you. It will also allow you to share what you are doing with others in Unite with Might. / Jamie Dedes


ORGANIZING AROUND PEACE, JUSTICE AND SUSTAINABILITY

I took this photo at Moe’s Books in Berkeley, CA. Michael is the gentleman in the hat and Terri is the lovely woman with the camera. Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion are cofounders of 100tpc. If you came up in the ’60s and especially if you are a Beat fan, you’ll recognize others in the photograph. / Jamie Dedes

“100 Thousand Poets for Change thrives because we organize around something other than our literary careers, something more than our recent publications. 100 Thousand Poets for Change thrives because we organize around peace, justice and sustainability, and we have set our priorities. Immigration, gender inequality, global warming, police brutality, censorship, homelessness, war are among those priorities. 100 Thousand Poets for Change thrives because we know it is essential to build a global community that will work together to make a better world, a global community which will exchange information to make us smarter and more informed about the needs that exist beyond our own bubble, and to learn new strategies from our friends around the world, to make us better organizers who can build that better world. We write, we demonstrate, we rally, we create, we raise funds for homeless and assist food banks, we are engaged… [because so many] are willing to sacrifice their time and energy to make good things happen. Will you join us? If so, connect with us on our Facebook Page and register at 100tcp.org.” Michael Rothenberg


Note: Don’t forget that on September 29, Saturday, we’ll host a virtual 100tpc at The BeZine. American Israeli poet, Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play and The BeZine) will officiate. / J.D.


In 2011, Michael Rothenberg and his partner Terri Carrion co-founded 100 Thousand Poets for Change [100tpc], a global poetry and arts movement with an emphasis on peace, justice, sustainability and education.

100tpc assists poets and artists around the world in organizing and planning events in their local communities, which promote social, environmental, and political change. Over 500 events take place in 100 countries each year. Events include poetry readings, music and dance concerts, art exhibits, art and activism workshops and street demonstrations.

100 Thousand Poets for Change is an annual event but 100 Thousand Poets for Change activities take place year round.


ABUELAS RESPONDEN / GRANNIES RESPOND

The abuelas are asking what you are willing to sacrifice now that the most vulnerable are threatened by violence, separation, and hate.  They are calling on women and men to come out and caravan with them to the Mexican Border to protest the abuses there. Details HERE.

If you are viewing this post from an email subscription you’ll likely have to link through to the site to see this video.


– Jamie Dedes 

SEATTLE-AREA Faith communities come together in support of restorative justice

16002861_1430086170356868_1174300382638625405_nFaith Communities for Peace: A gathering of churches interested in supporting restorative justice Peacemaking Circles for juvenile court cases in King County

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017
6:30 PM
Ebenezer AME Zion Church: 1716 23rd Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

988562_10203219539324344_759173015253613179_n“Did you know that King County Juvenile Court is piloting Peacemaking Circles as an alternative and community-based way to resolve some of its juvenile felony cases? This reduces incarceration, fosters healing for both victims and offenders, and affords a profound opportunity for transformation. This is the Gospel in action and it’s unfolding right here in our own backyard. Church communities are needed to help expand our network of circle providers. Would your faith community like to be involved? Please join us to learn more.” Rev. Terri Stewart, Founder and Director of Youth Chaplaincy Coalition

Questions?
Contact for Protestant and Interfaith Communities: Rev. Terri Stewart (425) 531-1756 or YCC-Chaplain@thechurchcouncil.org

Contact for Catholic Communities: Joe Cotton (206) 382-4847 or joe.cotton@seattlearch.org

© Photos, Terri Stewart

IF WE WERE RIOTING IN 120 COUNTRIES, YOU’D SEE US ON THE 6 P.M. NEWS: we’re not, so here’s everything you need to know about 100,000 Poets (and others) for Change

100TPC2014Logo

Here’s the good news: There are thousands of peace-loving, peace-living artists who gather in solidarity in some 120 countries around the world each year on the fourth Saturday of September and who connect and continue to work and stay connected even after the main event is over. The main event is 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC), which is in its sixth year.

If we were rioting in 120 countries, for sure you’d see us on CNN, but we bare witness to the desire for and possibility of peace and apparently that doesn’t qualify as news: won’t get the adrenalin going, won’t sell laundry soap, won’t create division among us so that the wealthy and powerful can use us for their own ends. The world in all its strife is left to learn about 100TPC through social media.  So be it …

THE BACK STORY: 

I wasn’t there at the beginning, but I imagine that 100 Thousand Poets for Change founders, Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion (both of Big Bridge Press), were having dinner one night – maybe with some other poets and some artists and musicians  – contemplating the state of the world, the disconnection among communities and nations and trying to think of some way to connect positively, to come together in the service of shared ideals such as harmony, stewardship and compassion. And so it happened that in 2011, Michael put out a call on Facebook for 100,000 Poets for Change and a movement was born.  If memory serves there were 700 events held simultaneously around the world that first September.

The first night of the 100TPC World Conference in Salerno, Italy in 2015. Over 80 poets from 22 countries and 6 continents came together to share and to plan for the future of 100TPC
The first night of the 100TPC World Conference in Salerno, Italy in 2015. Over 80 poets from 22 countries and 6 continents came together to share and to plan for the future of 100TPC

Michael and Terri recently stated that peace and sustainability …

. . . are major concerns worldwide and the guiding principles for this global event. All participants hope, through their actions and events, to seize and redirect the political and social dialogue of the day and turn the narrative of civilization towards peace and sustainability. We are living in a world where it isn’t just one issue that needs to be addressed. A common ground is built through this global compilation of local stories, which is how we create a true narrative for discourse to inform the future . . .

“What kind of change are we talking about? The first order of change is for poets, writers, musicians, artists, anybody, to actually get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. This will change how we see our local community and the global community. We have all become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbors down the street let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity.”

What started as a poets’ event now includes artists, photographers, musicians, drummers, mimes, dancers, arts lovers and other peacemakers.

100TMC

100TAC

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Michael Rothenberg

Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion created a website where anyone who wanted to organize an event could register.  It is to this site that you may go to register an event or to find an event in your area. If you want to organize an event and it sounds rather onerous to you, keep in mind that while an event might be big and attended by many in a park or town square, it might also be a small gathering of like-minded artists at your home or a local cafe.  I organized The BeZine 100TPC virtual event because I am largely home bound and assume there are others out there like me who would like to participate in 100TPC but would find it difficult to spend the day out. This virtual event also gives people anywhere a place to participant in 100TPC if there is no event scheduled in their vicinity. So just use your imagination and be creative about this.  You might dedicate a book club meeting to it or an afternoon at church. This year, Terri Stewart (Beguine Again and The BeZine) has organized a peacemaking circle to be held at her church in Seattle. Bravo!

Organizers generally make flyers for their events. These are often small works of art. Depending on religious or national holidays, in some countries the events are held on days other than the fourth Saturday of September.  In other countries – Morocco is one – events are held monthly. The main consistency is spirit and shared vision.

To keep up with 100TPC, check out the website for information and updates and connect with 100TPC on Facebook.

THE BeZINE 100,000 POETS FOR CHANGE, virtual event

The BeZine 100,000 Poets for Change will start on September 15th with our September issue. Priscilla Galasso (scillagrace) is the lead for that issue. The theme is Environment and Environmental Justice, which is our chosen theme for 100TPC 2016. If you’d like to submit work on topic for that issue, send it to bardogroup@gmail.com. Please review submission guidelines first.

Our 100TPC event is hosted from our blog. The post will go up at 12 a.m. PST on September 24 and you can begin including work immediately using either the comments section or Mister Linkey. Direction will be included in the content of the post. American-Israeli Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel) is the Master of Ceremonies again this year. He does a fabulous job of it and will keep the action and commentary running via the comments section. You are encouraged to share your own work and to read the work of others. I’ll be on hand to give Michael breaks and to keep the dialog going until midnight PST – California.  Ultimately all work shared is archived on site and at Standford University. Please keep in mind, that this is not just for poetry.  You can share appropriately themed fiction, music video, creative nonfiction – whatever can be shared in a comment. Long pieces can be shared by putting in the url link to your work on your blog or website.

To help get you going, we’ll do 100TPC writing prompts  at The Poet by Day (on Wednesdays, August 23 and August 31, so that you can begin working on something for September 24.  Comments will be open for sharing and you what you share doesn’t have to be poetry. It can be flash fiction, creative nonfiction – even a video, photograph or piece of art if you want to share it in advance.

100,000 PEACEMAKERS FOR CHANGE, Seattle, WA

This event is organized by The Bardo Group Beguines‘ Rev. Terri Stewart (Beguine Again and The BeZine) at Riverton Park United Methodist Church, 3118 S 140th Street, Tukwilia, Washington 98168 on Saturday, September 24th, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. with a social gathering after from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. Terri will lead a peacemaking circle that will focus on earth justice. She says, “We want to make a public witness of peace and peace for the earth. Hope to see you there!” The Facebook Page for this event is HERE.

That same afternoon there will also be a food drive in process at Riverton for the Tukewila Pantry Emergency Food Bank and donations of food or money are welcome. Here is the wish list if you are able to help:

Canned Meats/Fish
Canned Vegetables
Canned Fruits
Canned Meals (i.e. stews, soups, spaghetti, chili, ravioli, etc.) Macaroni & Cheese
Dry or Canned Milk
Peanut Butter
Dry Goods (i.e. pastas, rice, beans, cold and hot cereals, baking mix, etc.)

Remember, wherever you are in the world, go to 100TPC to find an event in your area or to register to hold one and no matter where you are, you can also participate in The BeZine’s 100TPC virtual event.

RELATED:

The BeZine 100TPC Commemorative Collection, 2014
The BeZine 100TPC Commemorative Collection, 2015
Michael Dickel’s report back from the Salerno Conference
The BeZine 100TPC Facebook discussion page

Kudos …

  • American-Isreali poet, Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel) (War Surrounds Us, Is a Rose Press, 2015) made .Kred’s “Most Influenctial Bloggers” list. Michael is a member of The BeZine core team and also the lead for our 100TPC project.
  • Cannoness to The Bardo Group Bequines (publishers of The BeZine), Terri Stewart (Beguine Again) completed the final interviews and gained a recommendation to become an ordained elder in full connection within the United Methodist Church! Look for news in May when the final vote of the full Board of Ordained Ministry affirms the recommendation.

strawberry red

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 easily and conviently accessed directly either here at this site or through Beguine Again 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

Religious Community, Social Justice, Incarcerated Youth: An Interview with Terri Stewart

I “met” Terri Stewart online in 2011 when I visited her blog Beguine Again, which at that time was entitled Cloaked Monk. “Beguine” Again – after the Beguines, a lay semi-monastic Christian order of the 13th-16th centuries in Northern Europe. It was committed to – among other things – caring for the sick and the poor.

I was impressed with Terri’s commitment to spiritual ritual and her openness to the wisdom and beauty in religious traditions, including traditions other than her own. I valued her respect for diversity, both social and spiritual, so I eventually invited her to become the Sunday Chaplain for what was then a blog entitled Into the Bardo.

Since that time, we’ve evolved into a group (The Bardo Group) of clerics and poets, writers and other creatives representing varied traditions and cultures and sharing the core values of respect and nonviolence. We work in the interest of peace, sustainability and social justice. We publish The BeZine. Our thirteenth issue comes out on November 15th. The theme is At-risk Youth. Terri is taking the lead for that issue, making this the perfect time for readers and colleagues to get to know her better. Hence this interview … Enjoy!

Youth Chaplaincy Program Founder, Terri Stewart. Christmas at the King County Youth Detention Center, Seattle, Washington
Youth Chaplaincy Program Founder, Terri Stewart. Christmas at the King County Youth Detention Center, Seattle, Washington

Jamie: I have a sense that you were committed to social justice long before you decided to study theology and become a minister. Is that correct? What was the stimulus and what was the first project on which you worked?

Terri: When I first joined the church in 2001, I was looking for a connection to community. What I discovered was inequality in the church and an avoidance of social issues that drove wedges between people. It was like that uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner. Everybody is at the table, but only a few were allowed at the grown-up’s table. And! disagreements were glossed over for the sake of unity.

My biggest issue with the church was its lack of inclusion for LGBTQIAP individuals. In response to that, and as a mirror of the greater structure of the United Methodist Church (UMC) world-wide church, I founded the Church & Society committee. This was an attempt to get people talking and to be able to step into social issue learning and leadership. I soon found myself embroiled in controversy as two issues marched through Washington state. In 2004, there was a church trial in the town next to my home town that was an attempt to defrock a lesbian pastor. Also, just prior to the trial, I was involved in a march on the capitol in Olympia for marriage equality.

The upshot was that I was yelled at like I was a child! “Are you trying to destroy the church?”

Then, when I went to seminary, I chose a Jesuit (The Society of Jesus) institution. Liberation theology, post-colonial theology, process theology…all of these things continued to crack me open to the human condition and to the interconnectedness of all that is.

As my first forays into social justice was basically full inclusion for LGBTQIAP individuals within the UMC church, I would count myself unsuccessful. The UMC church continues to have harmful language in its official rulebook (the ominously named Book of Discipline). I continue to advocate and am on the national board of Reconciling Ministries Network. Our goal has been full inclusion. I think we are beginning to realize that we need a second goal, that of creating safe space.

Also! At the same time this was all swirling around, I started volunteering with Kairos Prison Ministry in 2003. Kairos provides spiritual renewal retreats within the prison setting. Working with Kairos (Ancient Greek for “the right time” as opposed to chronos which is “watch time”) started me on a path towards understanding the full systems that impact the lives of those who are incarcerated.

Jamie: How and when did the focus transition to incarcerated youth? What is the most important thing you would like us to understand about the youth being served?

Terri: As I worked with Kairos, I started out working with incarcerated men. Then with incarcerated women. And then with women whose loved ones were incarcerated. I worked my way into leadership positions. Eventually, we thought, “What about youth whose loved ones are incarcerated?” So we wrote a program just for them.

At the same time, I was called into ordained ministry. I went to seminary. In my second year of seminary, I was required to do an internship. My internship was at the King County Youth Detention Center (KCJDC), Seattle, Washington. I basically never left.

The thing to know about the youth at KCJDC and at the state level institutions I serve, is that they are traumatized youth. The average ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score for incarcerated youth is 92 out of 100. Most of us would be in therapy with that high of a score! Instead, these youth are incarcerated. We could change that by having trauma informed teaching practices in communities where generational trauma has occurred or by having mental health centers with trauma treatment available. Destigmatizing therapy would be grand!

Jamie: Tell us about Youth Chaplaincy Coalition, how other ministers may get involved and what the public can do to help.

Terri: The Youth Chaplaincy Coalition developed out of my internship at KCJDC. We realized that there was a need to organize, train, and supervise religious volunteers so that the youth would get the best care possible.

While we started at KCJDC, we now are state-wide. I run a mentoring program called MAP that aids youth in developing transition plans for when they go home. Since the kids go home all over Washington, I need volunteers in every city!

My dream is to teach people across the world how the MAP program works and how easy it is to walk with those affected by incarceration. There is also a training called “Healing Communities” that teaches communities how to use their gifts in aid of those affected by incarceration. If every church was a Healing Community and every city had trained mentors, we could transform the world! Well, we could at least change one child’s life. If you want to be involved or talk to me, you can email me at YCC-Chaplain@thechurchcouncil.org

My biggest need is financial support. I take a very small stipend and am responsible for all my own fundraising needs. I often make decisions this way, “Should I do my work today? Or should I do fundraising today?” Although I should view fundraising as work, I often give it a lower prioritization! So donations would be especially appreciated. I persuaded the Church Council of Greater Seattle to adopt the organization so we are a legit 501c3 and we have an accountant doing all the financial stuff! That is a great gift to me!

Donations can be sent to:
Youth Chaplaincy Coalition
PO Box 18467
Seattle, WA 98118

Be sure and put YCC or Youth Chaplaincy on the memo line.

Jamie: What made you decide to go into ministry? What is the most rewarding aspect of that commitment?

Terri: When I first experienced a call to ministry, I thought I was going bananas. My first reaction was, “Who me?” or “I must be over-tired!” The call I experienced felt like a direct communication from the Divine telling me to go deeper. As I went deeper into understanding the call of ministry, I discovered it was a call to ordained ministry.

The most rewarding part of the commitment to a sacramental ministry is when I see a person’s eyes light up with the understanding that they are, indeed, holy and good—a living sacrament.

Jamie: Tell us about “cloaked monk” and the place of ritual in our lives.

The Cloaked Monk developed out of a commitment to daily spiritual practices in ordinary life (the monk part) and that I was kind of disguised—like wearing a cloak!

I believe that ritual marks out sacramentality in our daily lives. Sacramentality is that connection to one another and to the Divine. It is a way of marking time that moves away from chronological time (Greek: chronos) and into marking the fullness of time (Greek: kairos). It also allows us to fully be present without living in the past or rushing into the future. This is especially important in our transient age of moving here and there faster and faster. Rituals grounded in generational practices connect us through time and space to another age. There is also the place for new rituals created that uplift new and modern experiences that our ancestors would never have imagined. They can be a celebration, a grounding, a remembering, or a lament.

The ancient Celts had thin places. They were places that the veil between the earth and beyond seem especially vulnerable to one another. Places where the things of heaven could pass to the earth and where things of the earth could pass to heaven. Stonehenge is one such place. Or labyrinths. Ritual, when it is meaningful, creates this thin place.

Jamie: Why should readers care about people and issues that don’t seem to touch their lives directly?

Terri: Unfortunately, it seems that issues of justice and mercy do not intersect with ordinary lives. Incarceration seems far away from us. Refugees in Syria seem far away. Violence in Palestine seems so very far away. But it all tangles together like my bag of knitting yarn. I am a very poor knitter. My yarns always get tangled and I don’t know what to do. And when it is in my bag, it will suck in all the other little things in there! Resources or things I might need become tangled up in the yarn. Those are resources that I need. They might be resources that others need.

In Washington, we spend about $9,600 per student to educate them. We spend about $45,000 per prisoner to incarcerate them. What we know is that by reading scores in the 4th grade, we can predict incarceration rates because we do not fully fund our schools. What if we were able to direct our resources into education? All students would benefit.

I imagine that it is like boats rising in a tide. A rising tide raises all boats. Yours, mine, everyone’s!

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© 2015, most words and all photographs, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

Climate Care as Spiritual Practice

Editorial Note:  With this piece by Terri Stewart (Cloaked Monk) we announce our focus for 100,000 Poets (and others) for Change 2016, environment and environmental justice. We continue our Facebook group discussion page. Let us know if you would like to be included in that.

Terri is also the lead for the upcoming November issue of The BeZine. The theme for that zine issue, which will publish on the 15th of November, is at-risk youth. 

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Caring for all that is can be an overwhelming job! If I think of the things within my control and trying to do the best I can, maybe I can do it in bite-size chunks. After all, I will never be able to invent some magical thing that converts pollution to life-giving energy. But I can compost!

Call on the animals to teach you; the birds that sail through the air are not afraid to tell you the truth. Engage the earth in conversation; it’s happy to share what it knows. Even the fish of the sea are wise enough to explain it to you. In fact, which part of creation isn’t aware, which doesn’t know the Eternal’s hand has done this? His hand cradles the life of every creature on the face of the earth; His breath fills the nostrils of humans everywhere. Job 12:7-10, The Voice-A Storyteller’s Bible

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Climate-care, earth-care, creation-care, creature-care, caring is a deeply spiritual practice. How we approach the other starts with our interior orientation. If we practice expansive spirituality, we will be filled with gratitude, mindfulness, and joy. If not, we will be led to a diminished experience.

I wonder how we could reconnect, simply, through ritual, to creation? Perhaps a mini-ritual?

1. Set your sacred space

What are you trying to connect to? Earth? Cosmos? Stars? Bunnies? Create an easy environment where you can let your gaze gently rest on a photo, object, or even the real thing!

2. Set your intention

What do you need at this moment? For example, “I am here to connect to the earth in a way that honors the createdness of us all.”

3. The body of the ritual

Combining your intention with a ritualized act. For example, if you were sitting outside on a lawn chair, offering honor to the cosmos during the day, you could gradually look around honoring each creation you see. “Blades of grass, I honor you. Cedar trees, I honor you. Beloved cat, I honor you!”

4. Closing ritual

A signifier that it is finished. Perhaps, if you were outside in the grass, you could bring a handful of grass seeds to add to the growth. Then you could sprinkle the grass seeds in all directions, offering life. 

Be creative! This framework for ritual was created by my friend, Deborah Globus. Her avatar is LaPadre. She’s awesome!

Shalom and Amen!

Terri Stewart

by Terri Stewart

© 2014, words and illustration, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terrisignoffblog

Sabbath and Syria

by Terri Stewart (Beguine Again)

“Faith is not the clinging to a shrine but an endless pilgrimage of the heart.”
~Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Trevor Hudson, in his book A Mile in My Shoes, describes living daily life as living daily pilgrimage into the suffering of others. Life as a daily pilgrimage includes:

  • Being present,
  • Listening, and
  • Noticing

I was thinking of this as I was pondering the great tragedy that is taking place in Syria. Bodies are washing up on the shores of the Mediterranean of little children and families fleeing. It is simply horrifying. An excellent explanation of what is happening is here.

About 6 years ago, when I first started working at the juvenile detention center, I was playing cards with some boys in the detention center. As we played games, the boys were sharing their stories. One of the boys happened to be from Syria. He left Syria and moved to the states after seeing his parents murdered in front of him. He came here to live with his auntie. He could barely read or write. He was in detention for violent behavior. Imagine that. He had anger issues. I thought it was horrifying then. It seems it just keeps on getting worse.

Trevor Hudson would have us travel into the suffering as a pilgrim, not as a voyeur or as a consumer, but as a sacred journey. Being present to pain. Listening to their stories without imposing outside values. And noticing. Noticing who they are. Sometimes that is the most sacred gift of all. I think on that day years ago, for that young man from Syria, that is what he longed for. Simply to be noticed.

Maybe this Sabbath day we can take a moment and be present to those who suffer near us. Take a pilgrimage with them–a sacred journey into the heart.

Shalom,

terri

pilgrimage of the heart

Conversations on Poverty and Homelessness (Part 2)~ The BeZine, 100,000 Poets for Change

On our 2015 Facebook Page for 100,000 Poets for Change, we’ve been discussing poverty and homelessness.  I’m sharing some of the conversation there.  If you’d like to join us on Facebook, please let us know.  All are welcome. For the September 2015 issue of The BeZine, we’ll be exploring poverty and on September 26, we’ll hold our virtual event and we invite reader participation.  Instructions will be in our blog that day.  Links to everyone’s work will be collected and posted as a Page and also incorporated into a PDF that will be archived at 100,000 Poets (writers, artists, photographers, musicians and friends) for Change; i.e., peace and sustainability. 

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This conversation was started on our The BeZine 100TPC 2015 Facebook Group Page by Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel):

It’s only a little more than a month until 100 Thousand Poets for Change—Fifth Anniversary—26 September! Time to start some provocations…

Just to get us thinking abou the Poverty Theme next month—this was posted in a FB group, “Philosophy,” a while back but just appeared in my timeline.

The question I have is, does the standing man reach into his pocket because of empathy? Does he see that the beggar could be him? Or is it narcissism, that he sees an extension of himself (rather than seeing the person himself as separate)? Is he only giving b/c it is another version of himself (white male)? Would he reach into his pocket if he saw the Other?

I don’t ask these questions to be cynical, but because I think the cartoon suggests all of this and possibly more. Who do we see when we see poverty? Who do we help? Who do we wonder why they are not “making something” of their lives (as one commenter on the posted photo said he would ask “himself”—the beggar self—in this situation)?

Jamie asked me to take the lead for the poverty-100TPC page, if I understood correctly, so consider this a first provocation. I hope to put out a couple of more in the next couple of weeks.

Are they prompts? Inspiration? Irritants? I like the idea of provoking thoughts, creativity, ideas. So I call them provocations. Mainly, just use what generates something for you, ignore the rest or all if you’ve got your own excitement rolling.

– Michael Dickel

Some of the discussion that resulted from Michael’s prompt follows:

“Would he reach into his pocket if he saw the Other?” Heartbreaking that we even have to ask. And we know the artist’s perspective, he is not seeing the other.” Terri Stewart (Beguine Again)

“I’d like to think in the spiritual sense he’s seeing himself but that is wishful thinking, eh? Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day)

“The ‘but for the grace of God, go I’ response. Maybe. I was more cynical…I was seeing the ego. Ego demands giving to look good. Ugh. I’ve been doing justice work too long.” Terri Stewart

“I think the cartoon suggest all of this—the empathy of “there but for the Grace of God” likely the intent of the artist. The ego the reflection in the mirror, and possibly also intent? Who knows, I guess about intent… and that sense of I will help those like me. And what about those not like me? Terri Stewart

The drawing is provocative. And privileged. And as such, regardless of intent, draws attention to our own privilege, those like me anyway, white male, sitting at my expensive computer writing on FaceBook, drinking good coffee, and not worrying about where my next meal will come from, just whether I can afford to install central AC.” Michael Dickel

What are YOUR thoughts? Please feel free to share them below.

The August issue of The BeZine will be published online on August 15. The theme for August is music.

Conversations on Poverty and Homelessness (Part 1) – The BeZine, 100,000 Poets for Change

On our 2015 Facebook Page for 100,000 Poets for Change, we’ve been discussing poverty and homelessness.  I’m sharing some of the conversation here.  If you’d like to join us on Facebook, please let us know.  All are welcome. For the September 2015 issue of The BeZine, we’ll be exploring poverty and on September 26, we’ll hold our virtual event and we invite reader participation.  Instructions will be in our blog that day.  Links to everyone’s work will be collected and posted as a Page and also incorporated into a PDF that will be archived at 100,000 Poets (writers, artists, photographers, musicians and friends) for Change; i.e., peace and sustainability. 

This portion of the discussion was begun by Terri Stewart (Beguine Again) with this video:

Among the responses:

Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel):

“If you want change, let me throw it at you as hard as I can at your dirty face…”

Let me throw justice at you, let it hit your face
and wake us up. Let me throw opportunity at you,
let it hit your face and give us a chance.
Let me throw change at you, change in the world,
change creating justice and freedom,
change creating opportunity, real change
for all. Let me throw democracy at you, let it
hit us in the face so hard that it cracks open
and spills out into the land, everywhere, change—
real democracy, real hope, real opportunity.
Let me throw change and the stinking, rotten
carcass of consumer capitalism and greed at
those so privileged and shallow as to think white
teeth are more important than your humanity.
And then, god help me, let me find love
and compassion to throw as hard as I can
into our faces, into our lives, into the hearts
of us all, of us all standing here watching
in voyeuristic pleasures of despair.

– Michael Dickel

Corina Ravenscraft (Dragon’s Dreams):

“I want to shake all of those people who wrote those mean things and ask them what happened to their compassion? I want to ask them if their judgment makes them feel better about themselves and what they would do if they ever found themselves in such dire circumstances.”

John Anstie (My Poetry Library):

“Yes indeed, Corina, maybe no compassion, but where also is their insight?”

Please share YOUR thoughts below. Thank you!

The August issue of The BeZine will be published online on August 15.  The theme for August is music. 

Prayer as Action for Peace

Editorial note: The next issue of The BeZine will publish on Sunday, March 15.  Meanwhile, this hugely popular intro and collection of prayers was originally posted by Terri Stewart for Saturday, September 7, 2013, in response to a call for worldwide prayer and fasting to focus on peace in Syria. With all that is going on in the Middle East and given the Ukraine crises, the many conflicts in Africa and the deaths and dislocations resulting from drug wars in Central and South America, this seems a good time to post it again in the spirit of peace, love and community …  Jamie Dedes

I have seen many things happening–prayer vigils, personal meditation practices, marches, and communications with elected officials. We decided to offer a Labyrinth Walk for Peace at Bothell UMC in Bothell, WA in the morning. I gathered inter-faith prayers, we walked, prayed, and focused on bringing peace to the world. What follows is prayers and photos from that journey that became deeply personal for each attendant. There was a certain transition that occurred for me as I took in my surroundings and noticed Farmer Brown’s Garden. I began to see, literally, a connection between peacefulness and being fed. You will see.

Entering Sacred Space

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Sufi Prayer for Peace

Send Thy peace, O Lord, which is perfect and everlasting, that our souls may radiate peace.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may think, act,
and speak harmoniously.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may be contented
and thankful for Thy bountiful gifts.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that amidst our worldly strife we may enjoy thy bliss.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may endure all,
tolerate all in the thought of thy grace and mercy.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that our lives may become a
divine vision, and in Thy light all darkness may vanish.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, our Father and Mother,
that we Thy children on earth may all unite in one family.
– Sufi Prayer

The Journey Begins

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An Islamic Prayer for Peace

In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful: Praise be to the Lord of the Universe
who has created us and made us into tribes and nations that we may know each other,
not that we may despise each other.

If the enemy incline towards peace, do thou also incline towards peace, and trust in God,
for the Lord is one that hears and knows all things.
And the servants of God Most Gracious are those who walk on the Earth in humility,
and when we address them, we say, “Peace.”
– U.N. Day of Prayer for World Peace 2

Walking Together in Ubuntu

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A Hindu Prayer for Peace

Supreme Lord, let there be peace in the sky and in the atmosphere.
Let there be peace in the plant world and in the forests.
Let the cosmic powers be peaceful.
Let the Brahman, the true essence and source of life, be peaceful.
Let there be undiluted and fulfilling peace everywhere.
– The Atharva Veda

All Are Invited to Be Fed

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Cheyenne Prayer for Peace

Let us know peace.
For as long as the moon shall rise,
For as long as the rivers shall flow,
For as long as the sun shall shine,
For as long as the grass shall grow,
Let us know peace.
– Cheyenne Prayer

Feeding the World in Spirit and Deed
Farmer Brown’s Garden at Bothell UMC

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A Jewish Prayer for Peace

Grant us peace. Your most precious gift,
O Eternal Source of Peace, and give us the will to proclaim its message to all the peoples of the earth.
Bless our country, that it may always be a stronghold of peace, and its advocate among the nations.
May contentment reign within its borders, health and happiness within its homes.
Strengthen the bonds of friendship among the inhabitants of all lands.
And may the love of Your name hallow every home and every heart.
Blessed is the Eternal God, the source of Peace.
– From The Gates of Prayer: The New Union Prayer Book, by the Central Conferences of American Rabbis

Growing Spiritually and Growing Food

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Buddhist Prayer for Loving Kindness

May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings awaken to
the light of their true nature.
May all beings be free.
– Metta Prayer

Loving Kindness through Loving Care

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A Christian Prayer for Peace

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
But I say to you that hear, love your enemies; do good to those who hate you;
bless those who curse you; pray for those who abuse you.
To those who strike you on the cheek, offer the other also;
and from those who take away your cloak, do not withhold your coat as well.
Give to everyone who begs from you, and of those who take away your goods,
do not ask them again. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
– U.N. Day of Prayer for World Peace 2

Becoming the Light Unto the World

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A Non Traditional Prayer for World Peace

Spirit of Life and Love, be present with all who are suffering terribly from violence.
Lift up the hearts of those who fear. And inspire courage among the peacemakers.
Be present with political leaders, ensuring a retreat from violence
and a procession towards the peace table.
Guide the hands of all those who are caring for the injured, the hungry and the grieving.
And, open our own hearts to compassion.
Remind us of our complicity and responsibility.
And lead us towards generous engagement—always towards a vision of peace.
–Adapted from the Unitarian Universalist Tradition

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

© 2013, post and photos, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is our much treasured administrative lead for Bequine Again and The Bardo Group. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Update on 100,000 Poets for Change …

Reblogged from The Poet by Day

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Over on The Bardo Group blog, we’ve just finished celebrating 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC). The founders of 100TPC have invited our much valued community (The Bardo Group and Beguine Again) to join in this event again next year. I’ve agreed to participate.

As many readers know, I’ve invited Terri Stewart to take the Bardo leadership role from me and to join our Bardo collaborative with her Beguine Again collaborative to create a powerful synergy for advocating nonviolence. We are moving in new directions. Hence, I don’t want to speak at this time for everyone else but I am personally committed to 100TPC.

Should the Group be unable to take part, I’ll host the event here at The Poet by Day for other poets who blog and for elders and disabled like me who are mostly home bound and cannot get out and pound the pavement for peace and sustainability.

SAVE THE DATE: 27 SEPTEMBER 2015 …

…and please pass the word

ABOUT

poets, musicians, and artists around the world
in demonstration/celebration to promote peace and sustainability and to call for
serious social, environmental and political change.

Here are some links of interest and some more info . . . MORE

Memories of September 11, 2001

Yesterday on our partner blog writers Ruth, Terri, Chrysty, Donna and James shared their memories of the 9/11 tragedy. You may want to read what they each have to say and to add your own voice there as well.

BARDO NEWS: “Beguine Again” + “The Bardo Group” merging; Poetry Kudos; 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change event; the People’s Climate March gone global …

800px-rafael_-_el_parnaso_estancia_del_sello_roma_1511-1STATUS ON MERGING  Beguine Again and our collective, The Bardo Group, continue with sharing of ideas and some modifications to site links already in progress. At this point the intention is to continue with daily posts. The official transition date is October 1st. On Saturday, October 4, Terri Stewart will post a more complete status report. Jamie Dedes will remain as a part of the core team and as poetry liaison.

We move forward with 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change. However, we have streamlined the plan given the weight of work that is now upon us. We won’t be able to publish a book this year – a dream for next year maybe – but we’ll still have daily post/s and in the spirit of the occasion, we invite readers to link in their own relevent work to the posts via Mister Linky or in the comments sections starting September 27 and through October 3 inclusive. Shortly after the event close, we’ll collect links into a Page like the one we did for Poets Against War, 2013 Collection HERE.

The Bardo Group chosen area of concern for this year’s event is Peace and Justice.

The founders of 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change are enthusiastically rolling forward. Founders Michael Rothenberg, poet and editor of Big Bridge Press and zine,  and Terri Carrion, poet, writer and associate editor and visual designer of Big Bridge Press and zine, have pages set up for all participating organizations. THE BARDO GROUP event page is HEREWe take this opportunity to thank Michael and Terri for their vision and their work.

Michael and Terri have written: 

“The first order of change is for poets, writers, musicians, artists, activists to get together to create and perform, educate and demonstrate, simultaneously, with other communities around the world. This will change how we see our local community and the global community. We have all become incredibly alienated in recent years. We hardly know our neighbors down the street let alone our creative allies who live and share our concerns in other countries. We need to feel this kind of global solidarity. It will be empowering.”  MORE

KUDOS

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PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MARCH (HERE) The largest global demonstration for climate action in history is scheduled for September 21. In solidarity, Beguine Again will post spiritual practice relevant to the issues.

(c) 2014 Jamie Dedes
(c) 2014 Jamie Dedes

 

More than 100 organizations are taking part in an online recruitment drive to sign people up for the demonstration. In the first hours of the push, thousands of new sign-ups have already begun to flow in.

The People’s Climate March is expected to be the largest demonstration for climate action in history. The march takes place just two days before world leaders gather for an emergency Climate Summit at the United Nations. Marchers are demanding leaders go beyond rhetoric and commit to bold action at the summit.

More than 750 organizations around the world are supporting the People’s Climate March, from the largest transit workers union in New York City to a coalition of buddhist monks.

In total, the groups represent roughly 100 million people worldwide.

The scale of organizing for the march now rivals that of a major electoral campaign, with thousands of volunteers, daily phone-banks and canvasses in NYC, and a major online operation to turn out marchers. Updates from the field include:

Trains and hundreds of buses will be bringing people from across the country for the march. Including a dedicated train from San Francisco to New York, a dedicated train from D.C. to New York, and buses from multiple points outside of New York.

More than 45 labor unions have signed onto the march, pledging to turn out members in New York City and from surrounding areas.

Connecticut alone has over 40 different groups confirmed to attend.

Renowned artist Shepard Fairey, whose Obama Hope poster has become world famous, has donated a poster design for the march.

At a warehouse in Brooklyn, artists are creating giant sculptures, floats, and banners for the march.

The global campaigning group Avaaz has secured 10% of the subway ads in NYC for the month before the march. The ads were chosen after a poster design contest that netted over 400 entries worldwide. Groups are planning a major student recruitment push for college campuses as classes resume in September.

In New Delhi, thousands will take over the streets on September 20 to demand a renewable energy revolution.

In Australia, organizers are expecting hundreds of individual events to take place across the country, including a major march in Melbourne.

In London environment organisations and faith groups are combining forces to create a historic march through the city to the steps of Parliament.

In Berlin three parallel marches will combine forces in a colourful festival.

Events are already being planned in Ghana, Kenya, DRC, Nigeria, and Guinea, along with a major march in Johannesburg.

In Paris, local groups will create the “Paris Marche pour le Climat,” with parades, marches, and bicycle rides planned across the bridges of the Seinne.

Reports are also coming in of large mobilizations planned in: Kathmandu, Rio, Sao Paulo, Jakarta, Dublin, Manila, Seoul, Mumbai and Istanbul.

Organizers are confident that the sheer scale and diversity of the People’s Climate March events, from the headline demonstration in New York City to the simultaneous events worldwide, will show politicians that there is a massive, energized movement demanding immediate action to address the climate crisis.

In New York City, the message will be difficult to ignore: marchers have come to an agreement with the NYPD for the march to flow directly through the middle of Manhattan. The march will begin at Columbus Circle at 11:30am on Sunday, proceed over on 59th Street to 6th Avenue, down 6th Avenue to 42nd Street, then right on 42nd Street to 11th Avenue. The route passes by some of New York City’s most famous landmarks, from Rockefeller Center to Times Square.

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The march and the Climate Summit in New York mark the beginning of a busy 18 months of crucial international negotiations. Climate negotiators will head to Lima, Peru, in December 2014 to make progress towards a global climate deal. Then, in September 2015 world leaders will meet back in New York to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals, the global post-2015 development agenda. Three months later, the world will gather in Paris to try and sign a new international climate treaty.

BLOGGERS AND WEBSITE OWNERS don’t forget that September 10 is Internet Slowdown. This is all about NetNutrality. Our site host, WordPress, is participating.

In the spirit of peace, love and community,

The Bardo Group

BARDO NEWS: The Bardo Group blog is merging with Beguine Again and transitioning to Terri Stewart’s leadership…

Photo on 2014-03-31 at 17.16 #3I am pleased to announce today that I am passing the batton to Terri Stewart. The Bardo Group blog is in transition, but it will continue to post all work as usual and to host the scheduled special events. Terri has been a stalwart supporter and active contributor to and coordinator of and with this blog for several years now. She’s young, energetic, enthusiastic and smart and has the wherewithal to move forward to facilitate greater inclusion and encourage real social change.

Recently Terri was awarded a grant for the community blog, Beguine Again, which she founded. The two blogs will merge, creating a larger and more diverse venue. Your ideas and input to this process are welcome and Terri will tell you more about that and more about what promise our future as a community might hold.

I am pleased that Terri has agreed to take charge since I find I am no longer able to give the blog and the community the attention and nurturing they deserve and need to continue to evolve and grow. I’ve appreciated your support, encouragement and contributions over the years and I’m confident you will offer the same to Terri.

I’ll remain as a member of the core team. The blog will move forward with Victoria’s Writers’ Fourth Wednesday as usual and with plans for Wilderness Week at the end of this month and 100,000 Poets, Musicians and Artists for Change event scheduled to begin on September 27.

In the spirit of peace, love and community,

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terri2Hi all! I am delighted that Jamie asked me to envision a joining of our two communities. I don’t know what this will look like in its entirety, but I am excited about the prospect of joining the ethos that each community brings. I know The Bardo Group to be a place that focuses on the arts as a path to greater communication and peace. Beguine Again is a community that focuses on spiritual practices upholding the core value of nonviolence through the observance of mindfulness, prayer, joy, thoughtfulness, gratitude, sabbath, and inspiration

I have received a grant to take BeguineAgain.com to the next level by incorporating more thoughtful and personal practices. That will be incorporated throughout the next year by offering a series of classes and personal/private discussion groups that will be available through a subscription model. However, the basic structure of BeguineAgain.com will still be one of free & open blog posts that encourage the core practices that so many of us hold dear.

I am so grateful for the work that Jamie and the incredible team she assembled has done to bring The Bardo Group to the point of being a thriving, creative community. I was delighted when she asked me to be the Sunday Chaplain. It was a great opportunity to focus on creating sacred space in our midst. Sacred space – a place that offers healing and holding – is a goal in all that I do. And I am hopeful that you will all gather around as we co-create a new future together!

I look forward to incorporating the traditions of The Bardo Group with the traditions that have started at BeguineAgain.com. I believe there is a lot of synergy between the two communities and that we can grow and learn together.

Please contact me with any thoughts, concerns, or questions you may have!

Shalom,

terri

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TERRI STEWART has served for several years as The Bardo Group Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. Terri is the founder of the online spiritual community for nonviolence, Beguine Again. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction with honors and is a rare United Methodist student in the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Terri’s online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at http://www.cloakedmonk.com, http://www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and http://www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk. To Terri for conversation, send a note to terris@beguineagain.com. 

Sacred Space in Mental Illness

A while ago, I was a Spiritual Director at a women’s prison. While I was there, one of my clients had a mental illness. Entering into Spiritual Direction was interesting because it challenged me to think about G*d in ways I had never thought of. Here, I had a client who was clearly seeking “something more” but was afraid of “voices” in her head. Huh. In traditional language about the divine, I often speak of a “call” or a “nudge” or “voice” that comes from elsewhere. Now that elsewhere can be internally or externally, but it is still quite separate from the logical thought processes of my mind. The question became, what do I do if I am afraid of trusting any voice other than the logical thought process? How do I imagine the divine?

The product of my imaginings were twofold. My imaginings produced a poem called “ghost town” that is an exploration of what it means to be a seeker with a mental illness. This led to the realization that the only trustworthy things were concrete, visible, and available. And this is okay. It too, is sacred space.

And so I offer to you, “ghost town.”

ghost town

From a Ghost Town in AZ
An Actual Ghost Town in AZ

small, still voice of wind,
tossing my tumbleweed-thoughts
that roll through a ghost town.

here, my safety has been
abandoned to the rats and mice
that hide from revelation,
distrusting that light
so much that they will not stay
and visit. the locks and guns
have been jammed by mud-caked
memories of injustice,
in the sheriff’s office.

the hollow-hallow notes of the
player-piano silent
except for the collapsing
frame that drops pieces of itself
crashing onto the discordant keys,
creating a nightmare sound of
happiness twisted into grief,
twisted into a mockery of joy,
in the saloon.

the telegraph does not speak
into the future, the wires
have frayed and disconnected
from the source of consolation,
reality has dissolved letters of love
or news of the war and the
beloved sears & roebuck catalog,
in the post-office.

the ghost town disgusts me.
especially when the wind is
blowing and changing all that
i know into something unknown
ripping the roof apart and causing
the cacophony of noises to come
in from all directions telling
me, what?  untrustworthy voice!

so small and still or
so big and booming

telling me to tear the walls apart
bare-handed until my fingers
become bloody stubs and
yet you insist that i see you,
listen to you, the wind destroying
the small community of barn owls
and bats that i have built in my
ghost town.  i do not want to hear
you.  the owls and bats are my
saving grace.

Terri Stewart, Dec. 2010

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Prayer as Action for Peace

Editorial note: This was originally written by Terri Stewart for Saturday, September 7, 2013, in response to a call for worldwide prayer and fasting to focus on peace in Syria. With all that is going on in the Middle East and given the Ukraine crises, the many conflicts in Africa and the deaths and dislocations resulting from drug wars in Central and South America, this seems a good time to post it again in the spirit of peace, love and community …

I have seen many things happening–prayer vigils, personal meditation practices, marches, and communications with elected officials. We decided to offer a Labyrinth Walk for Peace at Bothell UMC in Bothell, WA in the morning. I gathered inter-faith prayers, we walked, prayed, and focused on bringing peace to the world. What follows is prayers and photos from that journey that became deeply personal for each attendant. There was a certain transition that occurred for me as I took in my surroundings and noticed Farmer Brown’s Garden. I began to see, literally, a connection between peacefulness and being fed. You will see.

Entering Sacred Space

prayers-for-peace-3

Sufi Prayer for Peace

Send Thy peace, O Lord, which is perfect and everlasting, that our souls may radiate peace.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may think, act,
and speak harmoniously.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may be contented
and thankful for Thy bountiful gifts.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that amidst our worldly strife we may enjoy thy bliss.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that we may endure all,
tolerate all in the thought of thy grace and mercy.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, that our lives may become a
divine vision, and in Thy light all darkness may vanish.
Send Thy peace, O Lord, our Father and Mother,
that we Thy children on earth may all unite in one family.
– Sufi Prayer

The Journey Begins

prayers-for-peace-6

An Islamic Prayer for Peace

In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful: Praise be to the Lord of the Universe
who has created us and made us into tribes and nations that we may know each other,
not that we may despise each other.

If the enemy incline towards peace, do thou also incline towards peace, and trust in God,
for the Lord is one that hears and knows all things.
And the servants of God Most Gracious are those who walk on the Earth in humility,
and when we address them, we say, “Peace.”
– U.N. Day of Prayer for World Peace 2

Walking Together in Ubuntu

prayers-for-peace-5

A Hindu Prayer for Peace

Supreme Lord, let there be peace in the sky and in the atmosphere.
Let there be peace in the plant world and in the forests.
Let the cosmic powers be peaceful.
Let the Brahman, the true essence and source of life, be peaceful.
Let there be undiluted and fulfilling peace everywhere.
– The Atharva Veda

All Are Invited to Be Fed

prayers-for-peace-1

Cheyenne Prayer for Peace

Let us know peace.
For as long as the moon shall rise,
For as long as the rivers shall flow,
For as long as the sun shall shine,
For as long as the grass shall grow,
Let us know peace.
– Cheyenne Prayer

Feeding the World in Spirit and Deed
Farmer Brown’s Garden at Bothell UMC

prayers-for-peace-7

A Jewish Prayer for Peace

Grant us peace. Your most precious gift,
O Eternal Source of Peace, and give us the will to proclaim its message to all the peoples of the earth.
Bless our country, that it may always be a stronghold of peace, and its advocate among the nations.
May contentment reign within its borders, health and happiness within its homes.
Strengthen the bonds of friendship among the inhabitants of all lands.
And may the love of Your name hallow every home and every heart.
Blessed is the Eternal God, the source of Peace.
– From The Gates of Prayer: The New Union Prayer Book, by the Central Conferences of American Rabbis

Growing Spiritually and Growing Food

prayers-for-peace-9

Buddhist Prayer for Loving Kindness

May all beings be peaceful.
May all beings be happy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings awaken to
the light of their true nature.
May all beings be free.
– Metta Prayer

Loving Kindness through Loving Care

prayers-for-peace-8

A Christian Prayer for Peace

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
But I say to you that hear, love your enemies; do good to those who hate you;
bless those who curse you; pray for those who abuse you.
To those who strike you on the cheek, offer the other also;
and from those who take away your cloak, do not withhold your coat as well.
Give to everyone who begs from you, and of those who take away your goods,
do not ask them again. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
– U.N. Day of Prayer for World Peace 2

Becoming the Light Unto the World

prayers-for-peace-10

A Non Traditional Prayer for World Peace

Spirit of Life and Love, be present with all who are suffering terribly from violence.
Lift up the hearts of those who fear. And inspire courage among the peacemakers.
Be present with political leaders, ensuring a retreat from violence
and a procession towards the peace table.
Guide the hands of all those who are caring for the injured, the hungry and the grieving.
And, open our own hearts to compassion.
Remind us of our complicity and responsibility.
And lead us towards generous engagement—always towards a vision of peace.
–Adapted from the Unitarian Universalist Tradition

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

© 2013, post and photos, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Bardo’s Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Sacred Space in All That Is

I am not quite done with the reading I wanted to do to create the final posting in the series of Sacred Space in the body, so I am going to share this recent post I wrote over at BeguineAgain.com.

…I was, I AM, I will always be…

Really, that’s the definition of the Holy Name that G*d passes on to Moses. This infinitive form of the verb “to be,” makes me think of even more! Reaching my fingers back through time and forward to the future.

Couple that with the declaration in the book of Genesis,

Let us make humans in our own image! Male AND female G*d created them

Lawrence T. Richardson expanded a bit on this. Instead of our traditional understanding that would be more of male OR female, G*d created them, it is male AND female. He is a transgender, queer-identified pastor, someone who has been created both male and female and claims both. Pastor Richardson talks of transgender people being the epitome of G*d since they are both male AND female rather than either/or. Now, I don’t really agree that there is a hierarchy of being most made in the image of G*d, but I do agree that the great I AM is embodied in all people.

One of the things I love about physics is the discussion of matter in regular plain-old Newtonian physics. Matter is neither created nor destroyed. Therefore, the dust that we experience has always been, is, and will always be. The things we breathe and touch that make us sneeze fits, have always been, are, and will always be. We are all connected through earthly and cosmic stardust (to dip into Carl Sagan’s language a bit). We, through our connection to the divine and through our connection to physical matter have always been, are, and will always be.

How can I not feel holiness, sacredness, the divine if we are not all connected?

stardust shimmers

ten thousand light years ago

birthing new life

It is at moments when I reflect on all that was, is, and shall be, that I feel fully connected and grounded in the Sacred Space in All That Is.

from the Hubble Telescope Infrared Horsehead Nebulae
from the Hubble Telescope
Infrared Horsehead Nebulae

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

Originally published at http://www.BeguineAgain.com

Photograph from the Hubble Telescope, Creative Commons License

terri

REV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.cloakedmonk.com, www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to terri@cloakedmonk.com

Sacred Space in Men’s Bodies

Four weeks ago (plus one week off), I started exploring finding sacred space in our bodies. I took a brief look at the need for sacred space because of the large influence of Western Christianity on our society and the world. Additionally, the groundwork was laid for a holistic view of our bodies as sexual beings and the unity of being.

Part I, here

Part II, here

Part III here

Today, the images, poems, and points address the issue of men and body liberation. The team who created this, myself, Denise Ritthaler, and Bjorn Peterson, used scripture, quotes, images, factoids, and music to make the point for healing our body image and considering our bodies sacred space. I am additionally adding an update of men and shame from Brené Brown.

  • Each subset of males see’s their body as either limiting or freeing. Either an asset or a liability.
  • Disappointment or embarrassment with body image is not talked about.
  • Men objectify others (esp. women) in the very ways they hope that they themselves are not objectified.
  • Men disguise their bodies (weights, tattoos, fashion)

Two examples come to us from Saul Williams and Brett Dennen. Mr. Williams talks about the inescapability of the realities that are attached to black, male bodies (explicit) while Mr. Dennen addresses the shame and guilt attached to the privilege of being Western-European-American and male.

WARNING: EXPLICIT: Saul WIlliams

Brett Dennen

In both cases, the artist laments the body as that which separates him from larger community and peace. The body is either used to marginalize or is a symbol of appropriation and bodily harm. The body is mournful, life-stealing, and restrictive.

Sociologist and author Brené Brown, PhD, offers this list of shame that men experience: (page 91-92, “Daring Greatly,” an abbreviated version of the list is below)

  • Shame is failure.
  • Shame is being wrong. Not doing it wrong, but being wrong.
  • Shame is a sense of being defective.
  • Shame happens when people think you’re soft.
  • Revealing any weakness is shaming.
  • Showing fear is shameful.
  • Shame is being seen as “the guy you can shove up against the lockers.”
  • [Men’s]worst fear is being criticized or ridiculed–either one of these is extremely shaming.

But the body is sacred!
Kelly Brown Douglass: Divine incarnation affirms the holiness of all bodies.
Sally McFague: Spirit and Matter are intrinsically related.
Mayra Rivera: God’s transcendence in our embodiment “summons” us to a new ethic.
Galatians 5:2 “Do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Again, what’s theology got to do with it?

  • Body/Spirit dualism allows objectification (Kelly Brown Douglas)
  • Objectification leads to disembodiment in the sense of our body as unholy other
  • When we are disembodied, we can no longer connect to creation (Sally McFague)
  • When we are disembodied, we can no longer connect to the other (Mayra Rivera)
  • When we are disembodied, we can no longer connect to the other within our self (extrapolated from Mayra Rivera)
  • We can neither connect to immanence nor transcendence

Without immanence (experiencing our bodies) or
transcendence (experiencing the other),
we lose our sense of sacred
.

And we become a befuddled mess. I hope that by experiencing the beauty and wisdom of our bodies presented here and in the other presentations, you will rebel against popular imagery and embrace the holistic sense of the life cycle.

Can I get an Amen?

Next week, I will look at this for one more week focusing on the good news that comes to us from the sources of spirituality and sociology. More Brené Brown! This next piece hasn’t been written, but I have ideas! Can you help me out by offering my the body-positive messages and quotes you receive from your spiritual paths and traditions?

References are here.

Shalom,

Terri

P.S. From Brené Brown on women and shame (I wish I had read this book before I started this series rather than in the middle of it!) (From pages 85-86,”Daring Greatly,” abbreviated version)

  • Look perfect. Do perfect. Be perfect. Anything less is shaming.
  • Being judged by our mothers.
  • Being exposed–the flawed parts that you want to hide from everyone are revealed.
  • No matter what you achieve, what you’ve come from and survived will always keep you from feeling like you’re good enough.
  • Even though everyone knows there is no way to do it all, everyone still expects it. Shame is when you can’t pull off looking like it’s under control.
  • Never enough at home. Never enough at work. Never enough in bed. Never enough with my parents. Shame is never enough.
  • No seat at the cool table. The pretty girls are laughing.

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