Faith, Grief, Newsletter, Prayer, Trauma recovery

March Newsletter, 2022

Lenten Litany

During this season of Lent let us pray,

Creating God, produce peace within each of us. Ask our inner peace to radiate out into the world.

Saving Jesus, provide lasting healing within each of us. Lead our healing into peace.

Advocating Spirit, reveal wounds within each of us needing mending. Accompany us toward healing ways.

Saving Jesus, provide lasting healing within each of us. Lead our healing into peace.

Creating God, produce peace within each of us. Ask our inner peace to radiate out into the world. Amen.

~Jennifer Ohman-Rodriguez, March 4, 2022~

THE VALUE OF REVIEWS

HUGE ASK: Every author relies on readers to write online reviews. Authors need a minimum of 100 reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads to be effective. I have 96 more to go! Please, please, please consider reviewing my book on Goodreads and at my Amazon author’s page. You have my thanks!

BUY THE BOOK

CP chalice only  Put A Time to Mourn & a Time to Dance on your bookshelf! My book is currently available (on sale!) at Chalice Press.  Or support your local, independent bookstore.

BONUS SECTION

Creating a book begins as a solitary endeavor. But publishing a book requires a team–literary agent, copy editors, marketing professionals, a publisher, typesetters, book sellers, printers, and of course visual artists. I’m blessed that Chalice Press asked for my input every step of the way including ideas for the front cover. Here’s my initial rough sketch next to the finished cover. From my stick-figure sketch to the published front cover–WOW! Thank you, Ranka and 99designs!

My sketch
The Cover

RESOURCES IN GRIEF AND TRAUMA RECOVERY

Two months into widowhood, I giggled my way through this book: Widow to Widow: Thoughtful, Practical Ideas for Rebuilding Your Life by Genevieve Davis Ginsburg.

Widow To Widow

HAPPENINGS

Planning for future in-person, hybrid, and online speaking engagements is underway for 2022. If your organization, church, podcast, conference, library, or literary festival is interested in inviting me to speak, please click here: Invite Jennifer to Speak. Here’s what’s on the calendar for March, April, and June: 

In-Person

Tuesday, April 26, 2022 at 7:00 pm: In-person book talk at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City, Iowa. Prairie Lights Bookstore will be there selling my book before and after the event.

Podcasts

Tues. May 3 – Ep. 52: Grief + Healing Author Jennifer Ohman-Rodriguez on Untrained Wisdom.

Thursday, June 16th, 2022 at 2:00 pm: Faith+Lead Book Hub event.

In the News

Gazette interview with Rob Cline.

Gather Magazine published my article, “Small, simple self-care” in their January/February 2022 edition. 

Read why Chalice Press decided to publish A Time to Mourn & A Time to Dance.

November 4, 2021:  A Time to Mourn & A Time to Dance is in the Southeastern Iowa Synod of the ELCA eNews.

Interviews

Q & A with Chalice Press President, Brad Lyons.

Book launch interview with Brian Allain of Writing for Your Life and Compassionate Christianity

On this podcast episode of This is Life and the Living of It, Steven D. Lee and I talk about trauma recovery and faith.

March Newsletter, 2022: All rights reserved by the author.

Prayer, Trauma recovery

Prayers Supporting Trauma Recovery

These prayers were written for and first offered to God on February 21, 2022 at the Montreat Conference Center during the symposium, Poems for a Dangerous Time. I presented a workshop entitled Psalms in Despair: Reflection, Practice, & Prayers During Trauma Recovery. We began the workshop with these prayers.

Let us pray,

Healer of our known and unknown wounds, we acknowledge our desire for this session, this space, this time together to be physically and emotionally safe for all people. We ask Spirit to give us the insight, energy, humility, and grace in creating and maintaining safety for everyone gathered here today. Protecting God, hear our prayer.

We acknowledge, with respect, we occupy a room built on land once stolen from other people. We recognize the Anikituwagi, known also as the Cherokee, lived here, loved here, and cared for the land here. We also acknowledge this land knows the evils of human bondage and its aftermath. Build in us, O God, the courage to offer reparations just as the Israelites asked and received reparations from the Egyptians and the Egyptians were saved because of it.* God of truth and courage, hear our prayer.

We acknowledge we may feel overwhelmed or agitated during this hour. Help us care for ourselves and one another through prayer, taking space, breathing, and checking in on one another. Caring God, hear our prayer.

We acknowledge that we do not fully understand another’s experience. Open our hearts to greater insight into ourselves and others and in doing so minimize our ability to diminish others. Empathetic God, hear our prayer.

We acknowledge we slip into voyeurism wanting to know details of others’ tragedies and pain. Protect others’ stories from our selfishness. Grow in us true compassion for others and ourselves. Compassionate God, hear our prayer.

We acknowledge we can talk more than we listen, check our phones more than we listen, tune out more than we listen. Open our ears to one another. Help us to hear one another. Strengthen our ability to listen with our hearts, bodies, souls, and minds. Acknowledging God, hear our prayer.

Having given these prayers to you ,O God, we now breathe asking Spirit’s wind to flow in and out of us.

Take a deep breath in expanding your chest, lungs, belly, and hips.

Breathe out as your insides collapse a bit.

Repeat.

Take another breath in and out as you slowly and gently come back into the room.

Amen


*Exodus 12: 35-36; Schlimm, Matthew. “Saving the Egyptians,” in The Christian Century. January 12, 2022. 24-27

Faith, Grief, Healing, Newsletter, Trauma recovery

February Newsletter 2022

WAITING

This month finds me busy doing book interviews, planning for upcoming in-person events, and writing a couple of articles. But I am also listening to the stirrings of Spirit. Wondering when and where my first call in ordained ministry will be. In other words, I am waiting.

Waiting can be frustrating. I have days in which I am anxious about the future and angry at the process. These times remind me of when I waited for grief to lift just a bit so I could feel like myself again. And as in grief and trauma recovery, I find myself doing a lot of slow breathing in and even slower breathing out. For me breath work helps maintain a small sense of still being centered in my body.

Breathing also reminds me I have agency in my life. Agency means choices. Some seen, still more cloaked under my own or the world’s pain. Prayer often accompanies my intentional breathing. And as my angst lifts, I thank God for the help and gifts I am aware of and also the ones I have yet to discover. My prayers often end with an exhaled “amen.”

Waiting then is not stagnate. It is full of moving air often taken for granted as Spirit swirls with an imperceptible wind gaining momentum until fully revealed.

THE VALUE OF REVIEWS

So this is a big one! Every author relies on readers to write online reviews. Authors need a minimum of 100 reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads to be effective. Please, please, please consider reviewing my book on Goodreads and at my Amazon author’s page. You have my thanks!

BUY THE BOOK

CP chalice only  Put A Time to Mourn & a Time to Dance on your bookshelf! My book is currently available (on sale!) at Chalice Press. 

BONUS SECTION

In one of the many early drafts of A Time to Mourn & A Time to Dance I included a poem as an epigraph before what is now the Prologue. Here’s the poem.

Remembering our beginning,

Misplaced in life’s ups and downs,

Rekindled in a shared glance,

Me alone holding our story,

Attending eternity’s truths,

Gifting me again with our love.

RESOURCES IN GRIEF AND TRAUMA RECOVERY

I love this video from the Ergos Institute of Somatic Education: Growing in Spirituality

A BOOK RECENTLY READ

I recently finished reading Elizabeth Stout’s Oh, William! The character, Lucy Barton, says toward the end of the book something resonating with me both as a writer and as a mother.

“But I was a writer. And that is a vocation…but I wanted those children more than I wanted my work. And I had them. But I needed my work as well…I would give it all up…all of it I would give up–in a heartbeat I would give it up–for a family that was together and children who knew they were dearly loved by both parents…”(219-220)

HAPPENINGS

Planning for future in-person, hybrid, and online speaking engagements is underway for 2022. If your organization, church, podcast, conference, library, or literary festival is interested in inviting me to speak, please click here: Invite Jennifer to Speak. Here’s what’s on the calendar so far: 

In-Person

Monday, February 21, 2022: I’m presenting at the event “Poems for a Dangerous Time” at the Montreat Conference Center in Montreat, North Carolina.

Sunday, March 13, 2022: Join me at the Tucson Festival of Books! I’ll be at the Adult Fiction/Non-Fiction tent from 2:30 to 4:30. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022 at 7:00 pm: In-person book talk at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City, Iowa. No registration necessary.

In the News

Gather Magazine published my article, “Small, simple self-care” in their January/February 2022 edition. 

Read why Chalice Press decided to publish A Time to Mourn & A Time to Dance.

November 4, 2021:  A Time to Mourn & A Time to Dance is in the Southeastern Iowa Synod of the ELCA eNews.

Interviews

Q & A with Chalice Press President, Brad Lyons.

Book launch interview with Brian Allain of Writing for Your Life and Compassionate Christianity

On this podcast episode of This is Life and the Living of It, Steven D. Lee and I talk about trauma recovery and faith.

February Newsletter, 2022. All rights reserved by the author.

Family, Healing, Love

My Children Leave Me in January

Snow and Ice

My children leave me in January when winter sky covers the fields. Dropped temperatures bundle us into sluggish selves. Frosted windows watch as the world whispers in thickened silence.

My children leave me in January never following the predetermined course of others their age. Not August or September when many return to school. While recent graduates load trailers traveling toward new adventures. And gap year’s youth stuff large backpacks with necessities for discovering the unknown.

But January while I wonder who I am without their daily sounds and smiles. Mourn my womb’s smallness. Never enough to hold them forever, within me, around me, close.

My children leave me in January leaving a scattering of unpaired shoes, balled up socks, and half-read books. Things set down as markers of this place still theirs while they seek something other than here.

My children leave me in January as if coming back. And they do. But each time less to stay than to visit. A gradual reduction of living together as family. Signaling a time almost over for forever. Womb receding, shriveling, sobbing in emptiness.

Grief, Newsletter, Trauma recovery

JANUARY NEWSLETTER 2022

ON THE BOOKSHELF

WELCOME

Welcome to my inaugural newsletter. Why a newsletter? Well honestly the idea began at the advice of every marketing person in the publishing industry. Somehow newsletters boost book sales. Believe me, I’m not producing a newsletter because I want to contribute to the clutter in your inbox. So yes, I am a bit sceptical. But honestly I’m also enjoying what began as yet another task on my to do list! So here it is, my first newsletter as an author. If you continue reading you will find I’ve included background information pertaining to things I write about in the book. Some months you will find sections called “bonus reads” from the original manuscript that didn’t make the final cut. Also included are a few grief and trauma recovery resources  as well as upcoming events and publications. And that’s about it. Thank you for reading any of my writing and blessings on your healing journey.                                                                               

~~~Jennifer Ohman-Rodriguez~~~

BOOK RELEASE EVENT

Please join me and Chalice Press President & Publisher, Brad Lyons, for a Q & A on Tuesday, January 18th at 7:00 PM CST. Click here to register. 

BUY THE BOOK

CP chalice only  My book is currently available (on sale!) at Chalice Press. 

THE VALUE OF YOUR REVIEW

Every author relies on readers to write online reviews. Authors need a minimum of 100 reviews on Amazon to be effective. Please consider reviewing my book at my Amazon author’s page.

BACKSTORY: TEARS AND RAIN

Tears and Rain was a major theme in my experience of grief with trauma recovery. Tears because they streamed unbidden throughout each day and night. Rain because the universe around me mourned as well. Tears (and rain) brought healing to me and continue to bring healing and new life to our world.

Tears and Rain is also a song by James Blunt. His lyrics, filled with the poetry, portray trauma’s afterlife. Listen to the track below. Read the lyrics. 

TEARS AND RAIN LYRICS

How I wish I could surrender my soul
Shed the clothes that become my skin
See the liar that burns within my needing
How I wish I’d chosen darkness from cold
How I wish I had screamed out loud
Instead I’ve found no meaning. I guess it’s time I run far, far away, find comfort in pain
All pleasure’s the same, it just keeps me from trouble
Hides my true shape, like Dorian Gray
I’ve heard what they say, but I’m not here for trouble
It’s more than just words, it’s just tears and rain. How I wish I could walk through the doors of my mind
Hold memory close at hand
Help me understand the years
How I wish I could choose between Heaven and Hell
How I wish I would save my soul
I’m so cold from fear. I guess it’s time I run far, far away, find comfort in pain
All pleasure’s the same, it just keeps me from trouble
Hides my true shape, like Dorian Gray
I’ve heard what they say, but I’m not here for trouble
Far, far away, find comfort in pain
All pleasure’s the same, it just keeps me from trouble
It’s more than just words, it’s just tears and rain. Oh
Tears and rain
Oh
Tears and rain. Far, far away, find comfort in pain
All pleasure’s the same, it just keeps me from trouble
It’s more than just words
It’s just tears and rain
.

BONUS READS FROM MY WRITER’S RECYCLING BIN

This month’s bonus read, “A Widow’s Wreath,”  first appeared on my blog in February, 2017. Read about my adverse reaction to placing a wreath on Tony’s grave that first Christmas here.  

RESOURCES IN GRIEF AND TRAUMA RECOVERY

What’s Your Grief is one of the most comprehensive resources I’ve seen on grief.

Trauma Recovery at Compassionate Christianity is my curated site full of trauma recovery resources.

HAPPENINGS

Planning for future in-person, hybrid, and online speaking engagements is underway for 2022. If your organization, church, podcast, conference, library, or literary festival is interested in inviting me to speak, please click here: Invite Jennifer to Speak. Here’s what’s on the calendar so far: 

November 4, 2021:  A Time to Mourn & A Time to Dance is in the Southeastern Iowa Synod of the ELCA eNews.

Gather Magazine published my article, “Small, simple self-care” in their January/February 2022 edition. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022 at 7:00 PM CST: Join me online for a Q & A with Chalice Press President, Brad Lyons. Click here to register.  

Monday, January 24, 2022: Brian Allain of Writing for Your Life and Compassionate Christianity interviews me. I’ll post a link in next month’s newsletter. 

Monday, February 21, 2022: I’m presenting at the event “Poems for a Dangerous Time” at the Montreat Conference Center in Montreat, North Carolina.

Sunday, March 13, 2022: Join me at the Tucson Festival of Books! I’ll be at the Adult Fiction/Non-Fiction tent from 2:30 to 4:30. 

Healing, Love

A Nest Between

Weave with precious threads rounded walls,
Unraveled from various fabrics,
Wedding gown, suits, maternity clothes, barongs,
Neckties, favorite shirts, ripped blue jeans, funeral attire. 

Fill woven cup with soft flannel,
Cut from well-washed baby blankets and elders' crocheted throws,
Topped with wooly lambskin meant for lining Swedish baby buggies,
Nestling in other comforts left-over from past years,
Favorite plush toys missing ears, eyes,
Bird feather fluff found on family hikes,
Pieces of fleece, flannel, silk scarf, and sweatshirt worn thin.

Bit by bit we build a nest between us,
Into which we welcome our beloved children and grandchild one by one,
Some home, in-between, partnered, 
Engaged, married, parenting,
All with their own hopes and dreams,
Yet still needing a place to land in relationship to us. 

Gather into our nest other beloveds,
Some alive, some gone before us,
Mothers, fathers, in-laws, siblings,
Youth's loves, wife, husband,
First love from time after life falls apart.

Settle all into our nest,
Along with hearts' unhealed pains colliding with fears of loving again,
As arms stretch out surrounding nest lifting it's heaviness,
Heads bent in watchful lingerings,
Before lifting eyes to stare into the other's
Small tears of acceptance, gratitude, joy, amazement, and courage,
Slide into our growing nested circle.

Move then with clumsy care,
Carrying nest's expanse between us,
Arms reaching farther into each other,
Holding love and loves together for the next part of forever,
Until parted by time moving into death,
For now loving our nest, each other, our us built around this shelter,
Raised for past, present, and come what may. 

Written during the Paschal Triduum (The Three Days) of 2019. Read in celebration on December 28, 2021 while proclaiming my covenant of marriage with Forrest T. Meyer.

Grief, Healing, Trauma, Trauma recovery

To Everything There is a Season

Week after week of therapy sessions. Each hour supporting healing through writing. Page after page revealing in words both pain and joy, sorrow and solace. All the while surrounded by loving writing professionals delivering suggestions with more care than critique. Revision after revision after revision accumulating into hundreds of rewrites leading to now. Filling my heart with a cascade of emotions.

With gratitude to God and to all the healers in this splintered world of ours, I officially announce the birth of my book. A Time to Mourn & A Time to Dance: A Love Story of Grief, Trauma, Healing & Faith is now available for preorder through Chalice Press at https://chalicepress.com/collections/coming-soon/products/a-time-to-mourn-a-time-to-dance.

Book Cover
Domestic Violence, Healing, Liturgy, Trauma, Trauma recovery

Litany of Mercy for the Ceasing and Healing of Domestic Violence

A litany is a series of prayer requests to God typically made by a worship leader. These requests are called petitions. The people gathered for worship respond to the offered petitions with a repeated refrain. In this litany the refrain is the ancient liturgical prayer Kyrie eleison. This litany is offered as we begin October and Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Women in posture of pain and protection.

The Leader begins.

We pray to you, oh God,

LORD, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy for the people in our prayers.

God, we pray this day for those people living with any form of past, present, or ongoing violence,

Stop the violence,

Lead all people to safety,

Provide all who suffer with healing balm.

We pray to you, oh God,

LORD, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy for the people in our prayers.

For those people among us now, in our immediate environment, our church, our neighborhood, or community who today live with the ongoing pain, fear, perpetuated trauma, and victimization of domestic violence,

Give these people the inner strength to survive,

Help them protest without being hurt,

Send them help NOW,

Keep them alive in body, heart, soul, and mind.

We pray to you, oh God,

LORD, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy for the people in our prayers.

For all survivors of domestic violence in all its evil forms living throughout the world,

Settle their nervous systems,

Calm their bodies’ racing chemicals,

Make room within their hearts, bodies, souls, and minds for healing.

We pray to you, oh God,

LORD, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy for the people in our prayers.

For all domestic violence helpers and healers such as mental health clinicians, domestic violence shelter workers, hotline volunteers, trauma-informed body healers and therapists, givers of monetary donations, police personnel, teachers, emergency medical technicians, medical doctors, nurses, social workers, chaplains, pastors, researchers, and all others who provide aid, safety, and healing,

Help these helpers, healers, and those for whom we have not named to do no harm,

Send them courage, strength, and your power to both stop the violence and support the healing process of others,

Remind them to care for themselves each day so that they can fully care for others.

We pray to you, oh God,

LORD, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy for the people in our prayers.

For all people, including ourselves, who know or suspect current occurrences of domestic violence and do nothing,

Open our voices,

Project our words,

Turn our words into protests,

Pivot our protests into necessary actions.

We pray to you, oh God,

LORD, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy for the people in our prayers.

For all communities in Christ gathered around you God in Water, Word, and Meal,

Build true sanctuary within church walls for all victims and survivors of domestic violence,

Create within these walls environments for healing,

Ask all of us as Christians to participate in our own healing so we in turn provide healing for others.

We pray to you, oh God,

LORD, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy for the people in our prayers.

LORD, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy for the people in our prayers.

LORD, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy for the people in our prayers. Amen.

This prayer was first given to God on October 14, 2020 during chapel at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. My thanks go to Dr. Beverly Wallace for giving her students space for creative voice.

As with all liturgy, this litany has a life of its own. The words printed here will shift and change. Some will stay. Others will go. The litany, as is, is just a beginning. It changes to voice the needs of each context. If you use this litany in any form I ask that you attribute the work to me even if you add or modify the work. The attribution may look like: “Our litany today is based on a litany written by Jennifer Ohman-Rodriguez.” Please also let me know you are using it. Thank you.

Image by Diana Cibotari from Pixabay

Grief, Trauma, Trauma recovery

August Counting

Every year on this day when families return from vacation full of just made memories, begin readying for the school year ahead, every year at this time I count the dead. Because right about now, five years ago, we came home from vacation without one of us forever. And there was no getting ready for the start of school for any of us. There was only a funeral to plan, a death to make sense of, and life to figure out. So today I count and if possible name the dead ones. Those who in the past twelve months lost their lives in the Wisconsin River. Those who innocently were fishing, wading, or boating. Those who in trying to save the lives of others, lost their own in this treacherous river. This river with a killing history exacerbated by an ongoing sinful lack of warning signs and a state refusing to allow survivors to challenge existing laws.

Lynda Mueller, 58

Parker Kruse, 22

Unnamed man

James Dolphin, 62

And I remember Anthony D. Rodriguez who did not come home with us after the Wisconsin River took him on August 13, 2016.

Still.

Faith, Grief, Love

STUFF

Last week I dropped off another load of stuff. Made a donation of sorts to an organization assisting people in need. My stuff helps make their programs happen. I’ve been doing this kind off-loading a lot lately as I forage through item after item in our home looking to toss, keep, or give away.

Of course each item is infused with memories. As I throw out a broken Tonka truck I hear the traffic sounds my young sons once made years ago. As I load up a box with books I remember my beloved career in early care and education. As I sort through old picture frames I remember life as it once was and is no longer. Our stuff holds memories just as the walls of our homes and churches seem to do. As if these inanimate objects and structures infuse our lives with living breath. Memories however are not alive. Yet they are within us functioning as internal containers of the past, ones full of emotions. Some memories, wonderful and loving. Others reminding us of past tragedies, regrets, and unfulfilled dreams.

In December of 1995 I said goodbye to a room full of three, four, and five year old children and their parents and guardians. Most of these families were immigrants. Some from Palestine and more from Mexico. Many families were in Chicago illegally having fled war, hunger, and disease. Even the three year old children showed visible signs of where they came from: Large crusted scars from untreated pinworm, PTSD from witnessing violence, and visceral memories of being hungry. Saying goodbye to these children was painful. I loved them and they me.

Through tears during one last circle time I reached my hands and arms out wide as if holding them all. Then I gathered the air in bringing unseen molecules toward me. My hands resting on my heart as my words spoke my truth: “I will always be in your hearts and you will always be in mine.”

And I have. Held them in my heart for almost twenty-seven years. Their faces, laughs, smiles, and tears rest within me. Surrounded by circles of hope. Well wishes for them and our shared world as prayer for something greater than we can imagine.

My heart, your heart, all hearts expand, make room, welcome. So that when the mementos break, disintegrate, take up too much space, or our beloved church decides to change, combine, or close, then we have what lives on in our hearts, souls, and minds. And we can remember that’s where God lives as well. In us, wherever we go and whatever we do. Always finding new life when what lives in us meets what lives in others. Reminding us that it is not the stuff stored in our closets or the beloved physical places holding our lives. It’s the relationships we grow with God, ourselves, and others.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay