What grounds and guides the work ahead

By Rev. Anna Blaedel

How are we nourishing ourselves and each other?
What nourishment do we need, in our bodies?
What nourishment do we long for, in our spirits?
What wisdom and joy and anger and imagination will nourish our collective labor of liberation, in the days and weeks and months to come?

These questions circulate daily through my heartmindbeing, and my work. I hear others asking these questions, and variations on them, too.

I recently had the chance to share in a spiritual practice, aimed toward nourishment, with some of the members of the enfleshed Board of Directors. You will be invited to read all their offerings below. But first, I want to invite you into this practice, too. It is a writing practice, so gather a pen or pencil, and paper, or whatever it is you want to write on, and with, and in.

First, I invite you to set a timer for 3 minutes. During these 3 minutes, create a list of 20-25 concrete words. (leaf   candle   walnut   pen   spoon   philodendron   scream  etc)  Create your list of 20-25 nouns and verbs.

Next, set a timer for 5 minutes, and create a list of 10-15 nourishments. For body and soul. Things, people, places, experiences. That nourish. (rest   pup cuddles   ocean waves   sex   silence   the woods   coffee ice cream   etc)  Create your list of 10-15 nourishments.

(You’re doing great, beloveds. Thank you for practicing with me, and us.)

Now, we’re going to take 20 minutes. Find a space, a position, that feels hospitable to you. You’re going to craft a 12 line poem of nourishment, using at least 5 words from each list. Don’t be scared. What do you know, deep in your bones? What do you need? What is sustaining your life? What is nourishing you?

20 minutes. 12 lines, at least 5 words from each list.

Blessed be. Thanks be. For the nourishment that grounds and guides the work ahead. For all of our practices cultivating and sharing spiritual nourishment for collective liberation.

Our offerings, of nourishment from this practice:

breathe deeply
it is your birthright

intuit ways of thriving
this creates space for delight

in moments of fullness, know that ancestors abide
let their presence be a softness
a refreshing water
time is an illusion.

this is life’s roundness:
we are always now.
and enough.

–Elyse Ambrose

abiding among beauty,
weeping questions into the soil,
and resting in the wisdom of the trees,
my heart is open.
“pay attention,” says the touch of the wind,
to these simple offerings:
water, a kiss from the sun, the birds and their songs.
The earth writes me poetry
and brings me flowers.
I am taken over and over again.
a queer love,
a divine lifeline.

— M Jade Kaiser

i tend to move at turtle pace, which is to say: slow.
the pace of skin against skin, under a quilt, of honey and cinnamon and candlelight and silence.
and so it is, how salvation comes: mycelial networks connecting each to each to all.
stretched out on wood floors, or better yet, under a canopy of trees, my niece’s voice: “where you be? where you be, now?”
a few weeks ago i was saved by a glimpse of the blood moon, full
a few days ago, again, by ray’s soup
and, too, your reminder of mystery’s surrender
and your tears, offered, and your knowing, shared
and your arms, around me, and your laughter, spilling, and our dreaming:
bursting open like this ripe tomato, reverberating like this cello suite
softening like this dark chocolate, melting on this tongue.

— anna blaedel

Even when it might feel like the world is burning down
the Earth holds me and nourishes me

With the leaves and rain of the forest
the dirt beneath my feet
and the air in my lungs

With pumpkins growing in the garden
to bake into bread or pie

With neighbors who give from what they have
With letters to write, and tea to drink

And with a gregarious dog who reminds me
to walk, and then to rest

To take action, and then to nourish.

–Allison Brinkhorst

pleasure, nourish me
like sacred bath soothes my being
like picnic, naps, and sunset evenings
like sex upon open roof tops— screaming
so loud that neighbors eavesdrop
joining in their own melody of non-stop nourished pleasures
like senseless tv that eases the mind
singing a tune that doesn’t rhyme
sky gazing all day
ignoring the control of time
pleasure nourishes me
pleasure notices me
pleasure plays with me
pleasure lays with me
pleasure pleases me
pleasure is me

–Rev. DaSaint

I’m walking now.
One of the last strolls here.
Remembering the cinnamon rolls, the benches, the chai.
It never provided silence – until COVID.

This place has changed.
It has reminded me of the importance of empathy, embracing and the small treats of life.

The water still flows down the street.
Messages still are visible on the brick walls from June.
It’s a community seeking to learn, but honesty is not always comforting.

It is nourishing though.
Honesty can be nourishing at its core – if we avoid the do not enter signs and instead see it as a a door.
An invitation to new life.

–Jessica Hager

There was a now when
Standing from sleeping was only worth it for poached eggs and learning the status of anna’s nest from within a place of business.
Each step I took toward a place
Away from Oscar and a well-pillowed bed
Rumbled and shook unless and until I was reaching a hug and iced tea.
These nows I turn next corners from night somehow, only
By grass laying after bed laying
Rolling down hills past deciduous tress still standing after the storm.
I need the arms of the earth in these absences surrounding.
And Ray has learned how to poach eggs
Out of love.

–Saunia Powell

long-stemmed zinnias
steaming coffee
walking to the chickens
walking to the cows
walking to the sun, aflame
lighting this saint candle
from my love and for my people
with matches from my farmer-aunt
a prayer for weeding
these all make for home.

–abby mohaupt

here in this place, surrounded by books,
i give thanks not only to read
but to dream
to find home in the stars
when i write, it is alone
yet not only for myself
pen to paper is but the start
of meaningful conversation
nourished by the gentle breeze of the fan
dancing across my skin
i close my eyes and imagine it is the caress of my love
for now, this is enough.

–Tyler Schwaller

a lover brings me coffee,
a bowl of rice
in the morning, or the mountains
and there is space,
fire and rain and fucking
queer prayers
and cared for
degenerate art springing possibility
in deserts
and places I deserted

–KC Slack

and here, a bonus collective poem, crafted by combining one line from each individual poem:

in moments of fullness, know that ancestors abide
“pay attention,” says the touch of the wind,

I need the arms of the earth in these absences surrounding.
from my love and for my people
to take action, and then to nourish.

and so it is, how salvation comes: mycelial networks connecting each to each to all.
degenerate art springing possibility

pleasure, nourish me
an invitation into new life
for now, this is enough.

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Rev. Anna Blaedel is theologian-in-residence at enfleshed. They bring an attentiveness to the intersections of academic, activist, and ecclesial engagement. Anna nourishes students through campus ministry for the University of Iowa Wesley Center and is enrolled in a PhD program in Theological and Philosophical Studies at Drew University’s Graduate Division.

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