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Posts tagged ‘remembrance poetry’

Why Memorial Rituals?

As I cruised the web doing some research today, I came across the prose included below and must share with you. It is written by Cinder Hypkie and is excerpted from this compelling article. I’m continually exploring the healing nature of rituals for the dying and after death. I treasure this kind of a find! Her poem speaks volumes to what I bear witness to, within only a few tenderly conveyed lines. I agree with her observations.

Yes, we do enter ritual “to respond to the call of the soul” and our fearless response to the call “places us in a realm of experience that we could not enter alone.”

WALKING ALONGSIDE

We enter ritual to respond to the call of the soul1:

To heal ourselves,

To pay our tribute

To honor our ancestors,

our fallen warriors,

our soft spoken heroes,

To encircle our children with love and hope for a future,

To stitch our neighborhoods together one honest connection at a time.

 

As artists and teachers and activists,

As would-be and sometimes wounded healers:

When summoned, we walk alongside, in humility,

Open ourselves to hear deeply,

Enter in to core matters of the heart.2

We tip the soul’s basket onto the table,

Offer possibilities for mutual healing,

bring into being acts of resilience and resistance.

 

IMG_3198So we build our ofrendas3 of rose petal and rosemary,

Mexican marigold and store-bought mums.

We pour our libations on the earth or the pavement –

From the waters of West Africa to the streets of Baltimore.

 

We paddle out into an ocean of grief,

Place a sea of flowers at the gate,

We spray the bike white,

Wrap a teddy bear tight around a pole.

Write a name in the sand, or R.I.P. Brotherman

On the wall of the rowhouse next door.

We sing a song they loved, draw a dove on their photo,

We sing and dance and eat and carry on,

Long, long after they are gone.

 

Art for remembering in a time of forgetting,

Art for asking: What is needed here?

Art for mending a broken heart

Finding our voice, our resolve, a new start.

 

Hush now, listen, and call their name.

Widen the circle; welcome them in.

 

Composed from research and interviews with community artists and activists by Cinder Hypki, 2011.
1 Quote by Malidoma Patrice Somé in Ritual: Power, Healing, and Community 1993.
2 Quote by Andrew Boyd, personal communication 2011.
3 Spanish: “altar,” “offering”

 

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Summer musings

The closing line of this poem is one you might have seen before. For example, I have it on my personal email signature. Seeing life as wild and precious is a gift poet Mary Oliver gives us with each of her creations. I love her work, how it emphasizes the natural world and the cycles of life. I find myself including it often into ceremonies I write – either as alternatives for complete readings by a participant  – or just bringing in certain lines as motifs.

Have you heard her read “The Summer Day” before? If not, give yourself this gift and give a listen:

Here is the complete poem, too:

The Summer Day

 

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of

up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

 

~ Mary Oliver