Why do we fear words - By Nazik al-Mala’ika

Date/Time
Date(s) - 09/20/2023
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

A twice-weekly online sacred text reading group. We meet on Saturdays, 4-5, and on Wednesdays, 12-1. All are wide open and you are welcome! Please note that the Zoom room now requires a password, so please drop an e-mail to sacred-text-reading+owner@uucpa.org to express interest.

What do we mean by a sacred text? Any text that helps us to:

  • connect to something of supreme importance to us
  • feel more connected to other beings or to the universe
  • feel more intensely alive
  • align our lives with our values,
  • perceive or feel more deeply
  • be more fully and authentically ourselves.

As Unitarian Universalists, we find these kinds of meanings everywhere, so the text itself might be from a so-called secular source, or from a religious canon, or something in-between.

The participants over the years have found that the approach we take, and the respectful, affectionate community of inquirers in which we read and converse, are as important as the text. Our practice usually follows one of these versions of Lectio Divina. The aims of the sessions are educational (learning something about the texts and traditions), spiritual/moral (discovering what the texts ask of us), and community-building (getting to know each other better).

The facilitator will post a version of the text in the chat for all to see. Everyone is welcome, as are your suggestions of future texts. Group members also take turns facilitating, if they want to try that role.

Why do we fear words
when they have been rose-palmed hands,
fragrant, passing gently over our cheeks,
and glasses of heartening wine
sipped, one summer, by thirsty lips?

Why do we fear words
when among them are words like unseen bells,
whose echo announces in our troubled lives
the coming of a period of enchanted dawn,
drenched in love, and life?
So why do we fear words?

We took pleasure in silence.
We became still, fearing the secret might part our lips.
We thought that in words laid an unseen ghoul,
crouching, hidden by the letters from the ear of time.
We shackled the thirsty letters,
we forbade them to spread the night for us
as a cushion, dripping with music, dreams,
and warm cups.

Why do we fear words?
Among them are words of smooth sweetness
whose letters have drawn the warmth of hope from two lips,
and others that, rejoicing in pleasure
have waded through momentary joy with two drunk eyes.
Words, poetry, tenderly
turned to caress our cheeks, sounds
that, asleep in their echo, lies a rich color, a rustling,
a secret ardor, a hidden longing.

Why do we fear words?
If their thorns have once wounded us,
then they have also wrapped their arms around our necks
and shed their sweet scent upon our desires.
If their letters have pierced us
and their face turned callously from us
Then they have also left us with an oud in our hands
And tomorrow they will shower us with life.
So pour us two full glasses of words!

Tomorrow we will build ourselves a dream-nest of words,
high, with ivy trailing from its letters.
We will nourish its buds with poetry
and water its flowers with words.
We will build a balcony for the timid rose
with pillars made of words,
and a cool hall flooded with deep shade,
guarded by words.

Our life we have dedicated as a prayer
To whom will we pray . . . but to words?

Love Song for Words
By Nazik al-Mala’ika
Translated from Arabic by Rebecca C. Johnson

For check-in / getting-acquainted time, and for those who are new and want a brief orientation to the practice, the room will be open ten minutes before and ten minutes after the session.

How to join: First, e-mail sacred-text-reading+owner@uucpa.org, since you will need a password. Then:

  • Join this class from your Web browser: https://zoom.us/j/96865808923
  • Join this class using the Zoom app: Meeting ID: 968 6580 8923
  • Join this class by phone: +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose) Meeting ID: 968 6580 8923
  • Join this class by one-tap on mobile phones: +16699006833,,96865808923#  (San Jose)
  • Phoning in, but not in the Bay Area?  Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/abL8clvIYT

This is the Zoom link for Wednesdays. For the Zoom link for Saturday, go to Calendar and click on a Saturday session.

Add to: Google Cal, iCal, webcal