A practice for paying attention to longing

By Rev. Anna Blaedel

Here we are, dear ones. Here, in the days stretching between old year, and new. Here, in the first days of Christmas, remember the insistent promise of what’s possible when Love is enfleshed. Here, in the celebrations of Kwanza, and Chanukah, and solstice, as we celebrate the delights of darkness, and of lights, and of finding our way together, in and through it all. Here, in days and hearts that may feel too full, or too empty. Here, in a world aching with wonder, and need, and longing.

As the season shifts, and the year turns, I invite you to pause, and sit, and pray, and pay attention to your longing. We long for what we need, and do not have. We long for what we have, and do not recognize. We long for what we’ve lost. We long for what we want, and what we fear is im/possible. Our longing is a religious experience, a source and resource for connection with Divinity and with each other. What do you long for?

And, I invite you into a spiritual practice. It’s a spiritual practice of poetry, but you need not consider yourself a poet to practice. (This practice was adapted from a writing practice offered to me by Christina Hutchins, a poet and theologian whose words on longing can be found in this Moment for Common Nourishment in 2018.)

Begin by getting your pen or pencil, and paper, or whatever it is you want to write on, and with. Next, set a timer for 3 minutes, and create a list of 20-25 concrete words. Nouns and verbs. Needle. Leaf. River. Walnut. Pen. Scream… Ready?

(create list of 20-25 words)

Next, we’ll take 5 minutes, and create a list of 10-15 longings. Things. People. Experiences. 10-15 longings. Rest. Healing. Sex. God. Space. Belonging. Liberation… Ready?

(create list of 10-15 longings)

You’re doing great, beloveds. Now, we’re going to take 20 minutes. Find a space that feels hospitable to you. We’re going to craft a 12 line poem of longing, using at least 5 words from each list. Try not to be afraid. What can you alone say? What makes you laugh, cry, and open your heart? What do you know to be true? 12 lines, at least 5 words from each list. Ready?

(craft your poem of longing)

And, if and as you’re willing, share this poem with a few beloveds, crafting a collective liturgy of longing, to ground and guide the days and weeks ahead…

And, an offering for you, our poems of longing, from a few of us here at enfleshed:

when Sabbath comes;
when leaves fall, or snow;
when the windchime sings;
when the sun sets and moon rises;
i remember how honest holy abandon must be:
pregnant and hollow and hallow and held.
sandpaper smooths rough edges
trust does, too.
the release of fingertips and aliveness.
this pot of soup, this loaf of bread
this stacked woodpile, offering itself for warmth
we, held loose, and woven: enough.

–anna blaedel

deep grumblings
serve as a sign.
warmth endwells
to withstand the bitter cold
where is rest when most needed? also, inside.
when running and chasing prove exhausting
and hoping futile
there is sky
there are multiple orgasms
there is family
there is water/ing.

–elyse ambrose

12 hugs a day
a friend told me it’s healthy
connection, comfort, joy
these are all needed for the human body and soul
when we embrace, we often share the in, out of breath
the beating of hearts
in sharing, there is vulnerability, forgiveness, difference
there can be the finding of home
the celebration of family
12 hugs a day
12 lines of longing

–jessica hager


loosening their grasp on what is
falling in, through rain
mangoes awash in earth, on dirt
leaving the now
returning to what could be
despair. disconnection.
poverty of dissonance.
memory of what could be
moves forward
awash in earth, in rain
streets strewn with flesh
bodies mangled. of mangoes
a new ground emerges
from the loosening of grasp
a remembering of
what is to come

come, and play.
relax your grip. your face. your shoulders.
feel the lure of Divine Enfleshment.
see it in queers loving, critters ritualizing, practices of survival, oceans reaching out to shores.
the wild of your body calls.
go and touch the grass.
feast at the tables of pleasure.
wrap yourself in all that is soft.
your own care is a labor of liberation.
be present. feel everything. bring others along.
let the flesh of all the earth be your companion.
receive all the gifts of soil and Sacred entangled.

–m barclay

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rev anna blaedel

By Rev. Anna Blaedel

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