Dear Friends,

As we build the Beloved Community, we pray for you every day that you might continue to bring it about in your little corner of the world.

Today's Meditation is a poem by Roger Robinson "A Portable Paradise" with a reflection by Padraig O Tuama. It was shared with us by Sharon Dickinson.

We invite you to join us as we commit

ourselves to working tirelessly to end systemic and structural racism in our society, in the church, in healthcare, in the workplace--wherever it shows up so that everyone may come to have more abundant life. May this meditation nourish our contemplative-active hearts and sustain all of us in action.

In the spirit of our philosophy of co-creating community and our awareness that the Spirit speaks through each of us, we invite you to share your meditations with us as well. We truly believe that it is God's economy of abundance: when we share our blessings, our thoughts, our feelings, we are all made richer.

We hope and pray that you find peace, healing, hope and the infusion of joy in your life!

With our love and care,

Ron and Jean

MEDITATION: "A Portable Paradise" by Roger Robinson

And if I speak of Paradise,

then I’m speaking of my grandmother

who told me to carry it always

on my person, concealed, so

no one else would know but me.

That way they can’t steal it, she’d say.

And if life puts you under pressure,

trace its ridges in your pocket,

smell its piney scent on your handkerchief,

hum its anthem under your breath.

And if your stresses are sustained and daily,

get yourself to an empty room – be it hotel,

hostel or hovel – find a lamp

and empty your paradise onto a desk:

your white sands, green hills and fresh fish.

Shine the lamp on it like the fresh hope

of morning, and keep staring at it till you sleep.

© Roger Robinson, from A Portable Paradise (Peepal Tree Press, £9.99)

With kind permission of the author

"A Portable Paradise" is the final poem in Roger Robinson's collection of the same name. It pays serious attention to the question of comfort, especially in times of distress. The book's opening poems are words of pastoral care addressed to the residents of Grenfell: a twenty-four storey tower block in London, a building clad in material that didn't comply with building regulations. In 2017, what would otherwise have been a household fire caused the whole building to go up, killing seventy-two people. People had raised the alarm about the danger of that cladding in the years leading up to the fire, but the social housing authorities did not do the work, most likely because the residents were Black and Brown and working class and therefore not considered important enough to listen to...

So it is response to these circumstances--in which Black and Brown British lives are continually put at risk and systemically ignored--that Roger Robinson writes "A Portable Paradise". The poems of comfort and consolation are written by a poet who's known pain to a population of people who've known pain. He's writing about how to carry comfort with you, no matter where you go--how to make a little bit of paradise portable.

Paradise, for Roger Robinson is found in a shell hld inside your pocket, or in the piney scent of a handekerchief or in the music you keep in your ears. In his poem the paradise needs to be portable because there are people who wish to steal it; 'carry it always on your person concealed' his grandmother warns him. The word 'concealed' is often used as a weapon against Black and Bsrown people in London, with police and newspaper headlines accusing, stereotyping and criminalising these populations by practice and policy. Roger Robinson's grandmother knows the stresses of the world can be 'sustained and daily'--big societal problems, as well as the daily worries of life--and here, we have a testament of how her grandson bears witness to her wisdom, keeping a private stash of paradise 'so/no one else would know it but me.' Her voice is loving and long-lived."

from Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World by Padraig O Tuama