Jan 232014
 

Since I first began offering writing workshops and pastoral care, (although it took me a while to come out about calling it that) here in Boston, some fourteen years ago, I have always operated on a pay what you can, often pro bono basis.  My calling is to work with my community, and to be of service to its members, regardless of any particular individual’s ability to pay money.  It has always been that way, and always will be.

I put out a donations can.  Because I don’t want to know what any particular person does or does not contribute.  It’s just not my business.  And I am human…it’s all too easy to judge, to go down the path of feeling bitter or taken advantage of.  I would be dishonest if I did not admit this.

And so, I have that bucket.  And I keep in it, at the very bottom, two pennies.  The widow’s mites, if you will.  There is a story about Jesus, watching the temple tithing box all day, and then making the observation that many people, indeed, had given extravagantly  of their excess, but that he had seen one widow put in a wee small donation, that was, in fact, all she had.

Am I asking folks to give extravagantly, or all they have?  No.  I am writing this to tell you that I leave those pennies in the bottom of that bucket to remind myself that I am in service to a  beautiful, loving, and generous community, and that no matter how much cash is in that bucket at the end of a workshop night, or the end if a day full of meetings, I am richly paid.  Thank you.

Oct 162013
 

Dear Folks, Beloved Community-

Many of you know that two years ago at this time, I was forced to take several months away from work due to a health crisis caused by a series of illnesses and accidents.  I was then, and remain grateful and humbled by all the love and support you gave me.

I am writing to you all, today, to let you know that because of that time off, I have been able to slowly, and trust me, with some not minor degree of resistance, take a good long look at how I have used years of rage and overwork to keep a strong bandage of denial over lots of trauma, starting with childhood and reaching far into this adult life.

And I am writing this to come out to you and to myself.  To stand with so many of you, of us, who are struggling with chronic and persistent depression and anxiety, especially as a result of childhood trauma, sexual abuse, and homophobic/transphobic violence.  So much of my ministry is in service to these struggles, and so many of these struggles are my own.

Most of this year I have experienced  non-stop panic attacks, which, with the help of  John Calvi, (please do look into his work, and support it if you are able, atwww.johncalvi.com!) this suppressed rage and panic is finally, finally transforming into the gut-wrenching grief required for letting go and truly healing.   

I am about to start looking into medication, because I cannot stop weeping, literally.  When I am fishing is the only time it stops, and these last two weeks, I am crying even then. Weeping, really.  And weeping literally all the time is almost as exhausting as the effort it takes to damp the weeping down to see a client or perform some other task.  I am becoming less and less able to damp it down, which I also think is good, in many ways.  This purging, this letting go. I am not getting much done, and I am anticipating the probability of getting even less done as this sweeps through me.  Prayers, please.  And confidence, because I have it, too, that this is good stuff, moving me to a better, much more whole place.  Even as I feel devastated by it.

I will be blogging about this grief work, in an effort to stay honest, to stand in solidarity with my fellow sufferers, and to share any useful insight I might find along the way. Watchwww.writeherewritenow.org for posts.

And…thank you, all of you.  it is only because of both the unending courage of so many of you who I have served, and the relentless love of all of you, that I am at last able to begin this work myself.

All possible love and prayer,

Toni

Aug 072013
 

Folks, I am very sorry to be writing this, but I am still quite sick, and so THERE IS NO WRITING WORKSHOP TOMORROW. Please forgive me, and if I may ask a favor, help spread the word about this to other folks who may not know.

Jun 272013
 

To all of you who have been so generous in your support and encouragement, I cannot thank you enough, especially now, as I am in the middle of a discernment retreat, in preparation for the renewal and deepening of my ordination vows. This is a deeply challenging and exciting time for me. One in which I am preparing for greater and more intentional service to the LGBTIQQAA community through the services of Write Here, Write Now.

Jun 222013
 

Dear Folks-

I  want to tell you about SJ Sindu, a young member of the WHWN writing family.  SJ has been offered the opportunity to attend the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Emerging Writers’ Retreat and needs our help.  I can tell you that I have worked with SJ, and that I believe SJ’s stories are VITALLY NECESSARY.  Please, if you are able to donate or offer support in any way–reposting to your social media, for instance–do not hesitate to rally for this important young writer.
Here are SJ’s own words:
I want to tell you how I spent the first seven years of my life living in a city under siege, with no electricity and no running water. I want to tell you how my family threatened suicide if anyone ever found out about my queerness. I want to tell you how I love butchness worn on a female body. I want to show young queers of color that the choice is not either or, that you can forge complicated, hybrid identities of culture and queerness. These are the stories I want to tell.

I’m humbly asking for your help to tell them. Going to the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Emerging Writers Retreat would give me the time and space to work on my craft, as well as giving me the opportunity to make connections with other queer writers and start my writing career. I’m currently working on two projects close to my heart: a novel about a South Asian American lesbian wrestling with a marriage of convenience, and a collection of nonfiction essays about my experience with gender and war.

If you can spare a few dollars, you can help me make these stories for a little bit longer. Even small amounts help. Thank you for reading, from the very bottom of my heart.
SJ Sindu

Thank you.
Toni
Jun 192013
 

Folks, please help spread the word, THERE WILL BE WRITING WORKSHOP EVERY WEDNESDAY WEEK IN JULY!
Let’s call it a test run to see how much recovered I am, how great the demand is, and…how much community support we can gather.

These types of workshop usually charge $25-$30 a head and ask for a ten week commitment up front from a minimum of ten writers per session. WHWN has always offered them on an open door, pay-what-you-can basis, for over thirteen years. Please, consider becoming an ongoing, occasional, or one time supporter. www.writeherewritenow.org

Jun 062013
 

As many of you know, nearly every morning, I say the Mass, including in the intentions all the prayer requests that have been sent to me.  Those community members who so desire it, receive a picture of each day’s Mass altar, as well as a blessing, via text, Face Book message, or email.  This prayer ministry has just turned one year old, and I am grateful and humbled to have been in service in this way.

Over forty-five community members are currently receiving the daily blessings, and over one hundred, all told, have sent prayer requests in the last year.  We have held each other in prayer through serious illness, through the loss of employment, through the death of loved ones, through natural disasters, and through violence against ourselves and our community.  We have held each other in prayer through career successes, marriages, births, new homes and other milestones.  We have walked together in all these joys and sorrows, and I believe we have been a consolation and a suport to each other.

I look forward to continuing and expanding this branch of the Write Here, Write Now service ministry, and would ask that you consider sending a gift to help sustain this service.  The Mass and Blessings take two hours, every day, (some of my most favorite hours!), and a large cellular data plan, a working computer, and internet access are all needed to deliver this ministry. Please consider sending a gift through the “support” tab at www.writeherewritenow.org.  You can also help sustain this service ministry by reposting this note and helping to spread the word about it and its gift need.

And of course, if you yourself have a prayer or intention request or need, please let me know!

With gratitude,

Toni

Apr 212013
 

Every few months, I am blessed by the generosity of my dear friends, Dominka Spetsmann and Linda Mahoney, innkeepers at Le Vatout, in Waldoboro, Maine.  They welcome me to make retreat at their gorgeous and peaceful home, no fee asked.  It’s a beautiful and restorative place, and I highly recommend you stay there, yourselves, sometime.

I was meant to go there, tomorrow, and spend a week.  I had looked forward to this time, as I always do, with great anticipation.

I will be staying put.

We all have been effected by this last week, here in the Boston area, and around the world, each of us in our own way.  I too, am feeling the aftershocks.  And as much as Le Vatout is my home (you’d feel that same way once you’d been there), I need to be close to my partner, my pet, my community.  I need not to be far away from my home, here in Somerville.

I will be keeping prayerful silence, as much as possible, during this week.  I will only be posting quotes and perhaps pictures here on Facebook. I will be reading only Scripture and several other contemplative works.  I will only be using my phone to send the daily Mass blessings.  If you would like to be included in these intentions, and if you would like to receive the blessings.  Let me know, too, the best way to send them to you.

I am dedicating this silence and meditation to peace, and to healing.

In service,

Toni