Poetry · Speaker

Poet Switch: Introducing Ciera Smith

Spoken-Word Poet Ciera Smith

Anita Scott will not be able to join us in November, but please pray for her as she is completing graduate school with the hope of becoming a principal! Which would be the coolest school ever.

We want to gather talent locally, diligently searching for women who are furthering the kingdom with their words, their art, their very presence.

I reached out to Rediet Mulugeta of Mission Year (check them out!) and asked her if she knew any spoken-word poets she could throw my way. She did!

Ciera Smith, a Chicago transplant from Philadelphia, has a passion for youth, teaching, and writing. A Spring 2014 graduate of the University of Maryland—College Park, she received her B.A. in English. Immediately following graduation, she went on to do Mission Year in the East Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago’s west side. It is here where she fell in love with the neighborhood and grew a passion for investing and walking along side the youth that she was serving.

She is currently studying Urban Studies and Youth Development at Eastern University where she will graduate in the Spring. She is also currently a lead teacher for the 7th and 8th grade classroom at Breakthrough Urban Ministries in their after-school program as well as on staff with Mission Year as their recruitment assistant. Ciera finds joy in writing, cooking, checking out new coffee shops and restaurants in the city, and spending time with friends.

 

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Faith · Poetry · Speaker

Speakers for November 2017

The main reason we gather women together is to provide teaching that is biblically sound, accessible, engaging, challenging, and inspiring. We pray hard about who to invite and spend a lot of time looking for gifted local women who have wisdom, integrity, and a heart for reaching and encouraging others.

We are so excited for this lineup and know these women will bring you Gospel truth with a side of humor and draw you closer to Jesus and one another. We will be introducing each of these women in separate posts.

ANITA SCOTT

Our dear friend Anita Scott will be joining us again with her incredibly moving spoken-word poetry. Anita has become a mainstay of Deeply Rooted in November.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KATHY KHANG

Also back by popular demand is Kathy Khang who will be opening our gathering on Friday night! Kathy currently serves as a regional multiethnic ministries director with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF)/USA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KIMBERLY PENROD PELLETIER

Kimberly Pelletier is a trained spiritual director, writer, and Director of Soul Care at Mansio Center in Glen Ellyn, IL. She blogs about grief, spiritual formation, and sexuality at kimberlypenrodpelletier.com. With the rest of her time, Kimberly can be found wearing a tool belt, brewing kombucha, or traipsing around the woods with her husband and three kids.

RAMELIA WILLIAMS

Ramelia Williams is currently in the call process, having recently earned a Master of Divinity degree and Certificate in Spiritual Direction from North Park Theological Seminary.
Poetry · Speaker

May Speaker: Katelyn Durst

 

Katelyn Durst is a poet, community artist, creative activist, teacher and youth worker. Katelyn hails from the northern coast of the Great Lake State. She has worked within urban youth development and urban community development for ten years in cities such as Chicago, Denver, DC, LA, Seattle and Flint (MI) . Additionally, she has taught poetry for six years and recently conducted poetry therapy workshops at a youth psychiatric hospital and Freedom Schools summer programming in a workshop focused on healing from the unjust deaths of youth of color

Katelyn is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Urban Studies and Community Arts from Eastern University. This program focuses on trauma-informed art-making to build sustainable and transformative resiliency within urban/inner-city and displaced communities. As an artist-in-residence with Flint Public Art Project, she is developing a narrative community arts project that will give voice to family stories as they process and grow through the current state of the water crisis. She continues to work as a poetry teacher and is additionally developing a food literacy curriculum for Flint schools.

Her poems have appeared in Controlled Burn, The Lightkeeper, Deep Fried Poetry, The Offbeat, Teen Ink, New Poetry Magazine and are forthcoming in Tayo Literary Magazine and the Primal School Blog. In her spare time, Katelyn She dreams of her next great adventure and becoming an urban beekeeper.

Check out one of her poems on The Mudroom!

Community · Poetry · Speaker · Worship

Who is Mending Your Soul?

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“Experiencing a taste of heaven” is how I would describe the Deeply Rooted gathering on May 21. Truthfully, there were a host of reasons that could have kept me away. The month of May filled up with plenty of obligations. Thankfully, my husband encouraged me to make room for it. I even invited a friend! Forgetting to care for our own soul becomes tempting as we get in the habit of caring for others. Yet, we must be cautious that we don’t become parched and undernourished. We must find ways of keeping our roots sustained.  The Deeply Rooted gathering did just that.

People worship our Creator in a variety of ways. The blessing that came through this gathering was the  variety of worship forms through which the voice of God spoke. The songs, though familiar, took on a different perspective in this venue. Despite our differences and  our church backgrounds, we were singing common music. The instruments may have been different (which I love) but the language was understood by all.

Intermingled with worship through music were speakers Rev. Dr. Velda Love, June Felix, and a poet Elyssa Salinas. We are all blessed when the Holy Spirit uses our unique gifts and talents to be manifest. I felt the characters come to life as she became their voices. In particular, I was impacted by the narrative of Hagar. So often the story is told of Abraham and Hagar takes a minor; if not scandalous part. Here, Hagar spoke of what was forced upon her. An act, which truthfully, is criminal by our standards. The pain, the humiliation, and despair she felt as she was cast away from the family that no longer had “need” of her was deep. Yet, in the midst of it, she is reminded that she is not invisible; she is not a label. She is known by and loved by her Creator.

June challenged the listeners to embrace the wonder of God. She drew us in by sharing a bit of her personal story involving her mother who had recently passed. She was left with unanswered questions regarding her mother’s life. Not having answers can leave us unsettled yet we’re reminded throughout scripture of the mysteries of God. For example, as she pointed out, many people know John 3:16 by heart; however, John 3:7-8 is not a popular memorized passage. June stated that “trusting God requires learning how to be comfortable with the ‘unknown knowns.’”  “Unknown knowns” are the promises of God as revealed through scripture and a personal relationship. I appreciated her reminder that God gives just what we need for the moment. So often, I think of the “what ifs” down the road but forget that God’s already holding onto that for me. In a humorous illustration, our life hidden in Christ was compared to a “Turducken.” The closing challenge confronted our own legacy. By embracing the “unknown knowns,” others may look at our life and wonder “Who is this Jesus?”

Rev. Dr. Velda Love’s presentation exhorted women to reclaim their true identities. She began by referencing the choreopoem “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.” Written by Ntozake Shange, the poem (and play) “is concerned with the victimization of women and with finding the young black woman’s voice and self.” The characters’ narratives bring a voice to both the individual and collective suffering at the hands of those in power. By expressing verbally and orally the violence against them as black women, they fight to break up a system that has perpetuated the oppression. Rev. Dr. Love asked us to consider what our own play would be called. Furthermore, the challenge lies in asking ourselves questions such as, “Who writes your story?” “Who has power over your existence?” “Who is mending your soul?” Such significant questions, but how often do we ask them? The answers have implications concerning how we view faith, our understanding of scripture, how we view God, and our relationship to others.

As we examined key passages, Rev. Dr. Love deconstructed common interpretations and provided historical and literal background. So much of what we come to understand biblically has its roots in source materials written in patriarchal societies. All miss out on the full implications of scripture when it is viewed through a lens that is skewed.  Acknowledgement of that truth is necessary to embracing our identity as God’s creation.   The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost “is a sign and message to women; you are empowered by God to be whole, to speak and create, to worship, and not fear or feel threatened by life or life’s circumstances.” The Holy Spirit does not differentiate. That is reason to rejoice!

My friend and I are still basking in the glory of the Deeply Rooted gathering.  The beauty of the Holy Spirit is manifest in the deepening of our relationships to each other as we are nourished individually. The insight gained from that evening continues to feed our conversations. Speaking of feeding, treats are always an appreciated part of any gathering. The hospitality was appreciated—not only did it allow for more opportunity to engage but the yummy snacks were a simple gesture of sharing God’s love. I’m quite sure my friend and I received an abundance of it! I look forward to the next Deeply Rooted gathering and more connections to feed my hungry soul.

Poetry · Speaker

A Conversation I Never Expected to Have

Elyssa Salinas performed spoken-word poetry for us at our May gathering. Her words were a clarion call to self-awareness and strength, as she took on Hagar’s hurt and shame, and pleaded with Frida Kahlo for wisdom. Even if you think you don’t like or understand poetry, please watch this performance. You’ll never look at poetry the same way, and may even be inspired to write your own!

 

A Conversation I Never Expected to Have

I was made with more than flesh in mind;

A mind! Imagine that.

A mind that reasons & wonders why

All you see are body parts;

Mountains & valleys that you can walk over & conquer.

Not afraid of rough terrain or how it will fight back,

Just looking for a place to stick your flag.

A claim for all to see that you saw, you came & you conquered.

 

I was made with more than flesh in mind.

Given the gift of womanhood,

Of soft curves, short stature & the hope that one day

I will meet her.

The woman I’m supposed to become –

The woman everyone seems so excited to meet.

 

I was given the gift of womanhood.

A package filled with more than

Sugar in the raw &

Spices to fill the rack.

My womanhood lay underneath

Tissue paper and ribbon.

Gently laid and ready to be assembled.

My limbs were put together by women;

Women older & wiser than me who

Fastened me, piece by piece.

Putting my arm in a socket,

Showing me how to embrace

A sister

A mother &

Telling me one day I won’t need any instruction

To embrace a lover,

I’ll get enough practice when I find him.

Placing my hips low to the ground,

With a laying on of hands

Showing me how to sway when a beat calls to me.

They place my feet firmly on the ground & tell me

Each step I take will lead me

Through pain unbearable &

Toward pleasure unimaginable.

 

I was given this gift of womanhood,

Not you.

As much as you might think my hips sway only in your direction,

My body submits simply to your touch,

& my lips never speak anything but your name.

You are mistaken.

 

My body is not a present for you to unwrap &

Discard when you’re done playing.

My body is a gift from God with

My name on the tag.

 

A God that gave me the ability to create or wait,

Or just to say no if I choose.

My hips are not just childbearing –

They are weight-bearing, rhythm making, melody moving &

Cocked from side to side, depending on my mood.

 

These breasts are not meant for you to unclasp & set free,

To fondle as you dream.

They were meant for me

To push down, push up, fill out my dress if I see fit

& if I want you step

From that plate to touch a new base

I will tell you.

 

And what I hold between my legs

Was never meant to be called

Chastity, virginity, purity or honor.

It was never meant to be

Property, a bicycle, or a revolving door.

What I hold between my legs is not called

Shame.

It has a name

all its own,

but one I choose

& do not have to share with you.

What I hold between my legs is

Beauty beyond measure

Ecstasy without ceasing

A point of pleasure & pain

Of life & death

& it is by invitation only that you get to come.

 

I have the God-given gift of being a woman &

What rests between my legs is divine pleasure,

What resides between my thighs

Is something more than a switch

Labeled

Madonna & Whore

Virgin & Slut

Prude & Pleasing

What I hold between my legs is more

Than a fleshy existence

More than a quick night or fleeting fancy.

 

It is a place where life begins

Where existence is known

And where more women have been hurt

Then you can imagine.

 

I never thought I would have to explain

That my body belongs to me.

That it is my own,

That it does not belong to you.

 

I never thought that my decisions would give you ownership

Of a body that you do not take care of.

A nice dinner might fill my belly,

But do not think of it as admission

To play games and ride around as you please.

Take a whirl all the way to the top &

If you like it,

Make it spin again.

Pay a little extra and maybe it will go backwards?

 

I was made with more than flesh in mind.

I have the God-given gift that you try to turn

Into something I should hide

Or something I should give away.

But I have decided to keep this present,

This ever present gift that is God given,

The gift of being a woman.

Of soft curves, short stature &

That ever present hope that one day

I will be her,

The woman that everyone seems so excited to meet.

Poetry · Speaker · Video

Anita Scott is Coming!!!

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We are absolutely ecstatic that Dallas spoken-word poet Anita Scott will be performing at Deeply Rooted again! Anita is a high school teacher with a gift for creating powerful poems that capture audiences, leaving them wanting more. She is the Poet in Residence at The Mudroom, contributing a spoken-word video each month, and has performed her poetry nationally. Join us November 4 & 5 for our next gathering. Watch this video for an introduction to Anita Scott.

Faith · Speaker

We Showed Up

You never know what to expect when you throw a party or host an event. You hope people show up and are terrified nobody will. You are hyper-aware of every word spoken, wondering how this person or that is going to receive it, if there will be offense taken or hearts opened. You see it through an outsider’s eyes and listen with an outsider’s ear, praying that God will show up even if only a few people do.
You have to make yourself slow down, look away, and be fully present.
Each of us came with expectation, anticipation, and maybe even a little bit of fear. But we showed up. We talked to people we didn’t know, raised our hands in worship, added new Facebook friends, experienced a deep, new truth, and made meaningful connections with strangers. Even more importantly, God showed up. In a different way to each one of us, in just the way we needed him to.
Some of us needed to allow ourselves a voice to stand up to misogyny. Others of us needed to hear that everything will be okay even if we don’t have answers right now. Still more of us needed to be told, again, that we are loved, seen, and heard. A few of us needed to be safe enough in our discomfort to ask what is stirring our hearts with unease.
We received good feedback from our attendees and speakers. Here are two examples:
“Thank you for a wondering evening with Deeply Rooted. The speakers affirmed in me that my voice as a single woman is valid and my story is worth telling. I have been making a lot of art about my journey—these women gave voice to all women who need to encouragement to stand rooted in their faith and rooted in their womanhood.”
Rev. Dr. Velda Love had this to say: “Thank you for the invitation to speak. I just did what you asked and look at God . . . always doing amazingly more than we could ever expect or imagine. The women were lovely, beautiful, ready, receptive, and very present. I had an opportunity to hug and talk with young women and more seasoned women. There is so much work to be done in our lives, so anytime you need me just call.”
Many women were challenged and moved by our speakers, and encouraged by our worship. We want to be available to you in between events, so please keep in touch. Let us know how God used our speakers to speak to your heart. Give us some ideas for future events, workshops, gatherings, etc. Tell us how we can pray for you.