An amazing book is coming out soon, and I’m honored and thrilled to be a contributor!
When I first read the call for submissions from enfleshed for a new book called “Held: Blessings for the Depths”, I knew immediately that I had to have a copy. The vision for the project fired my imagination:
And anyone who’s familiar with my blog or twitter feed can probably understand why this next bit appealed to me:
Though some exceptions will be permitted, we are largely seeking submissions that de-center Christian language. While we hope to maintain a deep sense of spirituality throughout the entire publication, we encourage writers to do so with a minimal use of traditional God language, playing with more expansive and creative ways of pointing to the mystical and mysterious, the Divine, the Sacred, the ordinary magic of shared existence.
While I write as a Catholic, I’ve always actively welcomed non-Catholics, non-Christians, agnostics, atheists, those who are “spiritual but not religious.” I know there are many reasons why people may be uncomfortable with or alienated from Christian language and imagery. Even for those of us who are comfortable and familiar with such language, venturing beyond the comfortable and familiar can enliven our spirits and further open our hearts to the Divine.
And what is not to love about this??
Blessings will be interspersed with commissioned art, as well as interactive elements encouraging intimate engagement with the book. We hope this book will be the kind of item people form a relationship with – carrying it from place to place, passing it to a friend, writing in the margins, personalizing, and perhaps especially, a source of blessing during difficult times.
As I considered whether I might submit, I slowly realized that this might be the perfect match for a poem I had written years ago, a meditative piece about menstruation, originally titled “The Blessing.”
It was inspired by a half hour workshop on menstruation that I attended at a women’s expo that profoundly and forever transformed my relationship with my period. (I unfortunately don’t recall the name of the Black woman who led the workshop; I’d reference her here if I could, as a matter of citational justice.) The poem gave sound and structure to the insights I took home that day, and I said it over to myself whenever I got my period, as a spiritual practice, at various times during the days I was bleeding.
I am deeply grateful to the project editor at enfleshed who gently encouraged me to consider revising the piece to be gender inclusive. I had considered it before submitting, and decided against; I was attached to my original words, based on my personal experience as a cis woman. But, as a Roman Catholic woman, I know intimately the pain of praying with language that excludes me; and I realized I didn’t want to inflict that pain on anyone else. The editor kindly gave me a few days to work the revision, and I’m quite pleased with the resulting version that is inclusive of everyone who menstruates, no matter their gender identity. (It is coincidental, but quite fitting, that I am posting this piece during Trans Awareness Week.)
I’m also excited about the pricing model they’re using:
Suggested price per book – $15
Receive one book, support enfleshed gifting one book** – $30
Pay what you can – $0-14
**The values of enfleshed align with wealth redistribution. While correcting income inequalities requires serious and significant changes at the systemic level, and a major disruption of wealth hoarding among the top 10%, we also encourage those with “enough” and “more than enough” financial resources to look for opportunities (in things of pleasure and necessity, as well as supporting movements for change) to justly re-distribute resources
This is a model that I first encountered years ago (about the same time I wrote the poem, as a matter of fact), instantly loved, and have rarely seen since. It appeals to me because I know what it’s like not to be able to afford anything beyond the bare necessities. I find it especially apt for a resource like this, that helps people along a journey: knowing that I’m making the book available for someone who couldn’t afford it otherwise gives me a sense of spiritual connection, that my journey is a pilgrimage I’m sharing with that unknown person.
Whether or not you decide to buy a copy, I hope you will share my excitement at being a part of this splendid project!