Good News, 10.22.2011


“By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.” (Isaiah 30: 15)

“I doubt I will have an experience like this again until I enter heaven.” So said Pr. Margareta after last Sunday’s Healing Prayer Service. All present experienced a profound depth, an opening of the soul, an environment thick with the compassion we call grace. It was a pure blessing of the Spirit. God desires the healing of our hearts, the wholeness of our lives and the reconciliation of our world. The wounds of Christ are signs to us of God’s commitment to heal us – even through our own wounds. A strange path this Mystery of Christ and yet…. on Sunday, we felt the embrace of a grace which will never let us go. Thanks be to God.

Opportunities for Stillness: There are several ways at Peace to experience the stillness, calm and focus which ground our life and faith. 1) Taize Contemplative Prayer occurs on the 4th Friday of each month at 7:00 pm. The next one is October 28. This service is held in candle light with beautiful chants, scripture and a time of silence. The Healing Prayer Team sponsors Taize. 2) Meditation is held on Thursdays from 5:45 – 6:30. Feel free to drop in when you can. Instruction is available if desired. 3) A time of Retreat was suggested after last Sunday’s service. I will look into scheduling one for us. San Damiano, located in the hills of Danville offers a variety of Retreats throughout the year. Check our Kiosk for their offerings.

The Small and Tall Family Service will be celebrated this Sunday at 9:30. A wonderful blessing for our children, grandchildren and all our families!

Our thanks to the Science and Religion and Healing Prayer Teams for creating the afternoon with Dr. Marilyn Schlitz and the Contemplative Healing/Book Signing Party with Rev. Fran Geddes. Additional copies have been purchased if members would like to read Fran’s book.

All Nite Soul will be a Latin Jazz Extravaganza with John Calloway on Sunday, October 30 from 5:00 – 7:30 pm. A variety of your favorite Jazz Artists will be dropping in as well. Face painting – in the spirit of Halloween – will also be available!

Three Reflections on Stillness
Contemplative prayer has nothing to tell you except to reassure you that if you dare to penetrate your own silence and advance without fear into the solitude of your own heart…you will truly recover the light and the capacity to understand what is beyond words and beyond explanations.” (Thomas Merton, monk)

Sabbath and the Gnats: “The 3rd Commandment enjoins quietness of heart and peace of mind. This is holiness because here is the Spirit of God. Unquiet people recoil from the Holy Spirit, they love quarrelling and argument. They do not allow the silence of the Sabbath to enter their lives. In the Sabbath of the Heart God says, ‘Ease your restlessness, quiet the uproar in your minds; be still and know that I am God.’ (Ps. 46) When we refuse to be still we are like the Egyptians tormented by gnats. These tiniest of flies, always restless, fly about aimlessly, swarm at your eyes, giving no rest. They are back as soon as you drive them off – just like the futile fantasies that swarm in your minds. Keep the commandment – beware of this plague.” (St. Augustine)

Space for Realness: My students’ hearts, souls and spirits long to speak, to have a voice and a quiet place, a chance to express their often unexpressed and unknown selves in poetry and prose. Sometimes my fellow prisoners are not aware of this fact until they are sitting in a class writing. That is what happened to me decades ago, at San Quentin, when I trusted my gut and signed up for a poetry class. I open my class with silent writing. This silent writing is a form of free expression any subject. This silent period can last 20 – 50 minutes, depending on the flow of their pens on paper. Amazing prose and poetry can come from this process. Such a space to create as a group and as individuals is a rare and appreciated thing in prison.

Being a poet and teaching artist in prison, I know the importance of this space and place to stay human and to share their own realness in their own voice. This writing offers my students a safe and cool place to bring down their masks and be human and real, and to allow that which connects them to all human beings anywhere to come out in an art form.

People not in prison would be shocked at how open, human and real these souls, hearts and spirits become to the arts when suffering, or flowing through a prison existence. The arts can save you and sustain you through decades of hardness and inhumanity. The writing helps to cope with, and even prevent, many tragedies, and often can create a reservoir of peace, hope and forgiveness. The power of the arts can open some up to feeling and caring again – to being human again. Perhaps a state lost since childhood: the endless depths of that childlike love, creativity and realness. (Spoon Jackson, poet/author of Words of Realness, who is serving a life sentence in New Folsom Prison; 3 members of Peace are now corresponding with Spoon on a regular basis.)

“The universe is made of stories, not atoms.” Muriel Ruykser

Blessings, Pr. Steve