I’m not much of a poet, but poetry seemed a good way to try to express my feelings for a group of people I call “The Forgotten.” The Forgotten are those whose pain and afflictions were at the top of the news headlines only weeks ago. Their stories captured our attention, their struggle and causes were held in our prayers. Replaced by the viral news of a virus and its impacts, their unseen fight continues and their lives go on. This is my attempt of a reminder to give “old news” our attention and focus some of our prayers toward “the shadows.” We are the warriors in the poem, whose prayers can change our hearts and the world.
From the shadows,
A weary mother wails for her opioid addicted son.
An unemployed father fears for the future of his family.
A grandparent grieves over the suicide of their loved one.
A homeless veteran retreats further back into the void.
A community struggles to rebuild after disaster.
From the shadows,
invisible and forgotten stories
vanish away likes vapors,
old news replaced by viral headlines
now wisps of causes
that once held the world’s attention.
In the shadows,
life goes on.
Needs still exists.
Violence still destroys.
Death still steals.
Depression still drowns and drags down,
and fear tries to rule.
Into the shadows,
Light it breaking through.
The overlooked are seen.
The forgotten are found.
Into the shadows,
warriors release the cries of their hearts.
The incense of the saints fill the air.
Love calls out,
surrender is heard.
Armies of angels are dispatched.
Trust turns to transformation,
Faith forges ways through.
Into the light,
the weary find rest.
The mourners find comfort.
The afflicted are affirmed.
A Redeemer, Protector, and Friend stands guard over hearts and minds.
In Him is faithfulness.
In Him is victory.
In Him is Light.
In His glorious light,
life is not invisible, but abounds in majestic proportion.
Like so many other families, our family has a busy schedule. Our days are packed with schooling, activities, and ministry. We often have the next activity on our minds before we finish the task at hand. As the kids get older, it seems we only getting busier. And if we are not careful (and intentional), our family can easily become like ships passing in the night, each going his or her own way.
You may be thinking, “I know exactly what you mean! This is our family too!” Or maybe you are thinking, “Shanna, how is it possible for you to miss connection in your family when you live, school, and work at home? You see each other everyday, for like every minute of everyday!”
Well, it’s very possible, maybe even more possible. There is big a difference between being with people in a physical space versus connecting with people in a heart and mind space. When you see people often, there is a danger in taking their presence and their unique person for granted. Extra effort and intentionality are necessary to continue growing connections and relationships. Time is invaluable to check-in with each other to bust apart assumptions of how and what the other person may/may not have been feeling and the way they are experiencing life.
This is one of the reasons why I love Poetry Teatime. Teatime is an intentional, weekly break in our busy week to rest and reconnect with each other. It is a time to come to the table to enjoy. We set the table beautiful with “proper” tea cups and bring books to sit at our sides. We wait while the tea steeps and others speak, taking turns reading and listening to poems and plays. We slowly sip, nibble special treats, and relish the images that words and conversations bring to our minds.
It might seem very “Mary Poppins-like,” it kind of is. In a world that is increasingly becoming more confusing, dark and scary, these “Mary Poppins-like” moments are increasingly more precious to help celebrate the good and keep cheerful and magical moments alive. There are plenty of other moments in our week when the reality of the world comes crushing through our door with hard to answer questions. We don’t shy away from these things or from topics of current world issues. When these discussions and questions come, I often find myself leading a quick ground training of how to react and respond to these issues in love and according to our beliefs. Poetry Tea Time is a chance to for all of us to take a break, to refreshed and revived from our schedule and these heavy things.
So how? How does Teatime work? How can you start a time like this in your home? Teatime in your family doesn’t have to look exactly like ours. You can find some helpful tips from Julie Bogart, the creator of Poetry Tea Time here, http://poetryteatime.com. There are several components that make teatime special and enjoyable.
On our table is always set with a table cloth and ceramic cups. I like to use my grandmother’s blue and white set, but we use other sets too. The Goodwill and Salvation Army are great places to find and purchase tea sets and cups. I always add fresh flowers or plants to the table. It is especially special to use something we found in our backyard- like pine boughs in the winter or daffodils in the spring. We always have at least one candle lit and sometimes my daughters will make a special table place card for each setting.
Sometimes we bake our treats (or more accurately my daughter bakes them.) Sometimes we buy them. It’s fun to try cookies and treats we haven’t tried before. Then there are sometimes we use what we have in our pantry- like granola bars or crackers with peanut butter. Everything can be special and look differently when plated creatively. 🙂
I keep a collection of herbal and caffeine-free teas on hand and set them out on the table with sugar, milk and honey in ceramics. Sugar cubes are always fun to have. I buy them on Amazon as I haven’t had much luck finding them in my local grocery store.
There are several books that always seem to make their way to the table. I encourage my kids to bring a poem, verse or short story they like to share. Sometimes the poems comes from our specific poetry books, and sometimes from unexpected places (like finding a poem in my daughter’s weekly reading assignment.) I’ve recently been encouraging all of us write our own poetry, but we are still working on that.
Sometimes, we have a Readers Theater during Teatime. We ALL love that! Here are some scripts we have used and enjoyed.
And sometimes, I bring our current read alouds to the table. Here are some suggestions:
During readings, we listen to the reader and usually clap when he/she is finished. Sometimes we ask questions. Sometimes we share why we picked the poem. Sometimes we share our favorite parts. Sometimes the poem leads us into other conversations. Our Teatime lasts an hour long, sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. There is a lot of “sometimes” in all of it because I feel like this is a time to just flow without an agenda.
There are many ways to set aside time and connect with family. Poetry Tea Time is just one way we do it in our family. There are other ways we connect that have nothing to do with tea or books. The important thing is making sure we are using our time wisely and and be intentional about creating spaces of connection.
How about you? How are you intentional in creating spaces to rest and reconnect as a family?
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