Live Virtual Group Session: 6PM EDT May 16th 2022

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

For this session we read a poem Heavy from the poetry collection Thirst by Mary Oliver, posted below. 

Our prompt was: Begin your writing with ‘That time I thought…’ or Write about taking the time to linger.”

More details will be posted on this session, so check back again!

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Please join us for our next session Friday May 20th at 12pm EDT,  with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

Heavy from the poetry collection Thirst by Mary Oliver

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had his hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel,
(brave even among lions),
“It’s not the weight you carry

but how you carry it –
books, bricks, grief –
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down.”
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled –
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?

20 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 6PM EDT May 16th 2022

  1. Coast to Coast

    that time I thought
    that birds were brown
    or black or grey & on the fence
    that day a stuffed crow
    blocked our frantic way

    from St. Bees on the western shore
    to the man-made forest
    Wordsworth wanted to keep
    for himself & his fellows
    good guy Romantics & the girls

    who threw themselves in front
    of trains for his
    admiration, for his poet’s
    good word & the fire
    nearly took them that night

    & the woman from Normandy,
    a strange daughter who became
    just one more girl to worship
    at his rolled pants, squatting

    but we found a gate
    it led through a field of bulls
    we found the highway
    it led back to the coast

    we found the village,
    sheep farm, marmalade
    & tea & scones

    we found the bus
    to Robin Hood’s Bay
    on which we rode
    while we let each other go

    Liked by 4 people

  2. al3793

    That time I thought…
    That time I thought that if I just went practicing I would be able to fix it all.
    But it isn’t that way with grief.
    Everyone’s grief is their own
    Even if they are experiencing the same
    grief as you.
    Their grief is not your grief.
    It is not the same.

    The practice of accepting not to fix it
    is what worked.
    Being able to stand present
    squirming motionlessly in discomfort
    takes practice.
    Listen, listen, listen.
    There are no words.
    But it’s funny how often something said
    brings laughter,
    then tears well,
    then embrace,
    then quiet.


    Liked by 3 people

  3. That time I thought…

    That time I thought that life couldn’t be any better.
    No roadblocks in my path nor dark clouds hanging over my head.
    But then it happened.
    You left this life much too soon.
    I was not ready to say goodbye,
    but that decision was not mine to make.

    Tears flowed freely, they seemed to never end,
    a physical ache in my body where all the pain and heartache settled.
    The sun was hidden by dark clouds,
    and the songbirds lost their voices.
    And still the question lingered… why did this happen, why did it happen to her, one so caring and tender in spirit?

    Time passes, some memories fade, the heart aches a little less.
    I smile at the sun as it peeps above the horizon.
    I listen to the songbirds outside my window discussing their plans for the day.
    I marvel at the tomato seedling out in the garden growing daily,
    waiting for it to bear fruit.

    If I stand here quietly, I can hear your voice within me, wishing me well.
    I do not stand alone.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Rita B

    That time –

    That Time I chose my husband over Neri our dog, who we were putting to sleep. He was old and in pain and for his own sake – needed to sleep the eternal sleep. My husband simply couldn’t be in the room. I regretted not touching Neri while he was going.

    This time, my friend asked me to be with her in the room, when she was saying goodbye to her beloved Corgi. I was there and regretted every moment – her grief, the vet’s practiced steps, the helper’s casual moves and the poor Corgi’s last moments.

    Now I wonder, what will I do next time?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Elizabeth

    Such touching comments about grief… I think the fact that we are communicating about it will help all of us move into the phase of being able to sit with grief -ours and others – more comfortably and not try to, as Andre so eloquently wrote, fix it.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Elizabeth

        Scarlet….Yes and yes and yes. Scarlet, I also was so moved by the powerful poem that you wrote inspired by the session. It drew me in and I heard you, heard you, and heard you,

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Elizabeth

    Taking the time to linger

    Going for my early morning walk,
    I used to aim for speed and challenge,
    But these days…
    I linger.
    I linger to look at the flowers and the trees,
    Across the seasons
    In my cozy neighborhood.
    I linger to listen to the birds
    Unencumbered in flight,
    Surrounding me with song.
    I linger to photograph something that catches my eye,
    Touches my heart,
    To share with those I care about.
    I linger to talk to my neighbors,
    The very fiber of my community,
    Who have especially sustained me during these past 2+ years.

    While I used to walk for physical fitness,
    I now also walk for
    Mental, spiritual, and emotional health.
    I will not be rushed.
    I will continue to linger.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Scarlet Kinney

      Elizabeth, I so appreciate both your writing and your comments in the sessions. This particular session seems to have stuck a common chord for all of us…the universality of grief, and the poetic ways in which dealing with it are being expressed here are so beautiful. For me, your comment about my poem felt so supportive, and I’m very grateful for it. I think the isolation created by Covid, which appears to be far from over, makes it even harder for grieving people to come to terms with their grief, and the work being done in these sessions is a great balm for that wound.


  7. Elizabeth Hussey

    That Time I Thought
    or no
    I couldn’t think
    “This is real”
    Your tall narrow frame walking away from me
    In May
    Like today
    Spring was opening
    Sweet and lemon green
    You came to tell me
    This news and No
    I couldn’t think
    Soon you will be gone
    In your wake
    An endless void
    And the silence
    of stars

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Scarlet Kinney

    Not one of us escapes the grief of losing that which we love. I’m stunned by both the commonalities and the differences in the stories of grieving shared here.


  9. Scarlet Kinney

    That time I thought I was alone in the world,
    All those with whom I had shared my youth
    Having departed their bodies,
    Become stardust,
    Become the wind, the sun,
    The fragrance of the firs in the forest,
    Or inhabiting the mossy stones in the springs that flow to the sea,
    I walked into the night
    Into stardust,
    Into the wind.
    I walked into the day,
    Into the sun, into the forest’s fragrance,
    Upon the mossy stones,
    And realized they were all still with me
    In new shapes and forms I could still embrace.


    The Waning Moon

    I don’t know what just woke me, in the middle of this deep night.
    Perhaps it was the pull of the moon, hidden by dense fog
    As its fullness began to wane,
    Or perhaps it was the sudden downpour drumming on the skylight above my bed.

    Whatever the cause was, I woke from a dream of you,
    In which I was telling you that
    The Ayurvedic docs predict I’ll live to be a hundred, perhaps even older,
    Based upon the unusually long length of my earlobes; that
    The astrologers tell me the planet Pluto is meeting itself in my chart,
    A sign that a death of some kind is approaching; that
    My primary doc tells me I should stop complaining
    About the current state of my health, because
    I’ve lived a long and healthy life; that
    I then gave her a jaundiced look, before reciting for her
    The litany of assaults my body has suffered
    Over the course of that long and healthy life; that
    It has survived polio and its aftermath…the slow twisting of my spine,
    And the fatigue of my nervous system; that
    In my long ago youth I carried four lives to term,
    All delivered by the surgeon’s knife, and they told me then that
    Each such delivery gave the child an extra ten years of life
    While taking ten years from mine; that
    I’ve lost count of how many other times surgeons have cut me,
    But the total must be more than a dozen, for
    Ruptured ovarian cysts caused by birth control pills, for
    The hysterectomy I then needed at the tender age of twenty-nine, for
    Knees that gave out and had to be replaced,
    Perhaps because I had danced so hard trying to stay alive; for
    Skin grafts to replace what was lost to burns when that explosion hit me, for
    Breast cancer, although I refused to let them take my breast, which surprised me; for
    Lung cancer, the worst surgical cut of all, for
    It cost me most of a lung,
    And literally left me with a broken heart, and no memory of how to breathe,

    So…No, I will not be grateful for the robust health,
    For the strength of will, for the strong body
    I once enjoyed and counted on as I faced down
    And survived one brush with death after another, for I’m grieving their loss.
    Nor will I be silent about the frustration I feel, and the fear,
    In acknowledging that my body and my spirit
    Are no longer in perfect alignment,
    Are now too out of sync to work together smoothly on life saving missions.

    Our conversation, one-sided as it is, goes on in the liminal state in which I float,
    And the rain pours down and the moon hides somewhere above the fog,
    While you listen patiently, with remarkable empathy, until I’ve run out of complaints,
    And sobbing, seek comfort in the warmth and strength of your still youthful body,
    Which you generously offer without reservation, leaving me feeling that
    The Ayurvedics might be right, in spite of my skepticism.

    But as I come back to myself, fully conscious now,
    If I’m to be honest with you, and I can’t seem to be otherwise,
    I feel death reaching for me, and I don’t know how long I can fight it off,
    For I’m finally tired, and in the waking world you’re gone, and
    The entire family of my youth that knew and loved me best, is gone,
    And I’m left to face down death on my own,
    And I want nothing more than to see you once again
    Before the final fight is over;
    To look into your beautiful eyes
    To smell your intoxicating scent
    To touch your beloved face
    To rest in your sweetness
    To sleep in your arms through the night,
    For loving you, if now possible only in my dreams,
    Still makes me love life itself,
    Even as the weight of all this sorrow,
    Of this endless fight for survival,
    At last threatens to wear me out.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Scarlet Kinney

        I really appreciate your support, your writing, and your comments, Michele. All of us are carrying so much grief, and in our culture, there are so few places in which we can find solace, or acceptance of and support for our personal grieving process. The work we’re doing here is one such place. I’m very grateful for it, and for your being part of it.


  10. Scarlet Kinney


    The Littlest One

    You think it’s finally done, the grieving.
    You think there are no pieces of your shattered heart left to break.
    You think you have no more tears, no more painful moaning,
    That there will be no more wild howling in the night
    For one you still love but can no longer see.
    Or hear.
    Or touch.

    You think you are free at last, whole again, strong enough;
    Able to walk into a different life,
    One without her in it, without them in it,
    All those you’ve loved and have now lost.

    You forget, again and again, that
    When the grey cloak of fatigued malaise
    Drapes itself upon your shoulders,
    The weight of it suffocating the will to go on,
    Oppressing all creative impulse,
    All joy in the small mercies of life,
    That grief has come to call once more,
    Until you remember again that She,
    She, the littlest one, the last one,
    Has left your side.

    And you must, you must
    Find the will to go on alone,
    For otherwise, you may follow her
    Into the dark void of the Great Mystery,
    Seeking her, seeking them all,
    Out of desperate longing
    For the large, once boisterous family
    Of your youth,
    Who have all now departed life
    Leaving you to stand alone.

    So you plant your feet upon the earth
    As firmly as you can.

    You seek solace
    In the sound of the whispering wind,
    In the flash of sunlight on the surface of the restless sea.

    You seek solace in awareness of the life force
    Inspiring the riotous growth
    Of your squash, your tomatoes,
    And the delicate pink jewel weed
    You long ago brought home from that island roadside,
    Transplanted, and loved back to life.

    You seek solace in the migrations of storks.
    Of whales.
    Of wildebeest,
    And of the great turtles of the southern seas.

    And you breathe again,
    One slow, painful breath,
    Then another
    And another
    And you go forward,
    One halting step at a time,
    Fragile as a falling leaf in the October wind.


  11. Elizabeth

    Scarlet, it’s Elizabeth Wind again. I had to write you because I am so moved by this additional piece. I’m glad you were motivated to put pen to paper because you have so much to say and share with all of us. Even though we are communicating at a distance, we have formed a community…albeit a Zoom community…So know that you are not alone. If you write, we will read. And if we read, your voice will be heard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Scarlet Kinney

      Hello, again, Elizabeth. I so appreciate your taking the time to write again and share your thoughts with me, and I’m very pleased that you enjoy my writing. Yes, I, too, feel that we have formed a community, and a very supportive and inspiring one. I feel so lucky to have come upon the ad for this work on Facebook! Seeing everyone and hearing their thoughts on a regular basis provides a sense of shared understanding and closeness, even though we are all so far apart, and that’s so important in these times of isolation and polarization. I also think the way the sessions are structured works marvelously well. I missed the group the few weeks I was unable to take part. I’ve also found the last three sessions since I’ve been back to be particularly intense and provocative, which I love. I wonder if you’ve found them so, as well? Makes us all think! Are you on Facebook? I’d love to get to know you better.


  12. Elizabeth

    Scarlet… All these sessions are meaningful to me.Of course they strike me differently depending on what’s going on in my life and in the world. I am not on Facebook, but I thought I would speak to the facilitators about maybe organizing some group social event on zoom down the road….keep you posted. Looking forward to connecting through the session tomorrow.


    • Scarlet Kinney

      What a good idea, Elizabeth! Yes, please keep me posted. I’d love to take part in a kind of informal online get together.


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