Leading meditations doesn’t come naturally to me, and suddenly now I find myself leading one every day at 9am for people I can’t see across the U.S. and the world. I know where I want the meditation to go, but I’m nervous and sweaty because I want the experience to be fluid and somehow profound.
This morning I let the words flow through me. I let my hands sway with the rhythm of the them. Something powerful inside me seemed to connect with something so much bigger than me and my fears. During the meditation, two juncos, the size of sparrows, black, white and gray, leapt into the branches outside my window, a male and female pair, poised and alert.
Once when I was walking my dog through a meadow up here in Mosier, Oregon, the edge of dry country in the Columbia River Gorge, I was surrounded by a flock of juncos, maybe forty of them, and I stopped. The bushes swayed with them. All around me they trilled like ringing telephones. For a few moments I felt I was a part of that flock.
I had no idea that writing together every morning on this conference call, this group writing, would be so powerful. All I knew was that I wanted to help somehow, help people stave off fear and loneliness this virus has caused, connect the powerful creative energy of writers. Fifteen years ago I used to volunteer for a Red Cross disaster team. When my pager went off in the middle of the night, I’d slip into a red-and-white vest. With disaster kits thrown in the trunk and magnetic Red Cross decals slapped on the side of my car, I drove to an apartment fire when the flashing fire truck lights were still pulsing like some flying saucer. For four years I responded to fires, hurricanes, and floods with the Red Cross. I can’t do that anymore.
In the writing workshops and salons I lead, when writers are hunched over their laptops or notebooks, when I hear our pens scratching the paper or the click of our keyboards, I feel something sacred happen, the way we leave our bodies, or maybe move into our bodies, or become more deeply animal. Over and over again, I’ve felt writers connect to something so much bigger than ourselves when we create, and I thought that’s what I can do: make a space for people to create.
Suzanne Kingsbury with her Gateless Method has shown me how to love this way. She’s taught so many writers how to trust our creativity, embrace the spirit within. And in a really practical way, she’s shown me what tools to use to connect online, how to lead a guided meditation, and how to help writers feel safe enough to open up to our creative genius.
Writing Together, a daily meditation and writing practice, has launched. We’re four days into this experiment. I’ve never done anything like this: start something, offer it publicly, invite people across the internet to write. Before the first day, I didn’t sleep. I was drenched with sweat and shaking, and because the group writing is by phone, not video, no one could see how wrecked I was.
Fifty-five people from 6 states and 2 countries came the first day. People said their names and where they were from. I led a guided meditation for 5 minutes and moved into the prompt I had pulled from the poem I had chosen as the closing. Everyone wrote for 20 minutes. After those 20 minutes, I asked people to breathe, and then, I read Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese.” Today 69 people called from 14 states and 4 countries. Today a woman in Singapore asked to play the recordings of each session and write with people in Asia/Australia.
Perhaps the best part comes when we say goodbye. Beautiful voices sing their thank-yous and goodbyes and be-wells, and we are one voice, the high, sweet song of kindness. We are a flock. And I think we’re helping each other carry on and feel a little less alone.
For upcoming online workshops and salons I’m offering, please go to kategraywrites.com and click on WORK WITH ME, or look on the calendar. I’d love to work with you.