Congregants Connect Through Poetry

by the Rev. Mary Grigolia

Before the pandemic began, the Oberlin, OH UU Fellowship and the Olmsted, OH UU Congregation collaborated on a monthly book group, reading fiction and nonfiction, religious, spiritual, secular, whatever called to our hearts and minds. Some of it was kind of heavy (e.g., The Sixth Extinction, The Singularity Is Near, etc.) We discovered that an occasional evening of poetry brightened everyone's spirits and went deep spirit, heart, mind and body. We decided on quarterly poetry gatherings.

When the pandemic and confinement hit, we were scheduled for Poetry, which became the Poetry Check-in on Zoom. People were so in need of being together from a place of deep meaning, they decided to meet weekly.

We evolved a process: Come to check-in and witness others, bring a poem or two or just come to witness, to be together. The facilitator invites people to check-in by

  • reading the poem they brought
  • reflecting on why they brought the poem
  • how does the poem represent where they are today?

People frequently ask to hear the poem a second and even a third time. And people respond to the poems with questions and reflections.

As I write this, #BlackLivesMatter protests are eliciting violent police response all over the country. Reading poetry has been especially helpful as we sit together face-to-face or face-to-name and listen to the anguish and anger in the group, sharing stories of resilience, tenacity, courage and vision.

Screen shop of the invitation"Especially in this time of grief and anger at the brutality of systemic racism, we reach out to each other for words of comfort, hope and vision. What poems are inspiring you? What words are coming through you?"