Voice-ing the HEaRt: The Sixty-Six Books of the Bible by Margot Van Sluytman

Wall of Welcome, photo by Troy Gonsalves

When Reverend Anne Hines of Roncesvalles United Church in Toronto invited me to write a poem for Easter Sunday 2020, I had no idea that this invitation would become a dance with Word via words, that would alter my very own relating and relationship with my métier: poetry. A relationship that began to take me back into reading The Bible in a manner that shone a powerful light on the fact of that book’s capacity to shake, quake, challenge, and enlighten from the place of love, Wisdom, and indeed, inclusivity.

Each Monday I receive three to four words or phrases based on the book around which the Sunday sharing will be grounded. I read the chapter. I read with the HEaRt of womyn’s voice-ing. I read to unearth, to divine, to HEaR what is being invited, and how. The underpinning of my HEaRt’s listening, is the question: how does Godde wish for us to love?

And I write.

Since January of this year, each time I stand before my community, poem in hand, I know that I am part of the re-storying, of the re-relating with those sixty-six books. The essence of Gaia’s Delight. The flame and fire of Sophia’s Glory and Grace.

The reason I know these things, a simple, profound, and precious one, is that on the wall to the left of where I stand to read, resides the stunning stained-glass windows of Christian Creation Stories. That exquisite evocation is surrounded by a breath-taking mural of Indigenous Creation Stories by First Nations Artist and Wisdom-Keeper, Philip Cote the Third.

This mural, a first of its kind in any church in North America, if not globally, is the voice-ing of how poetry and paint in concert with Word – Logos Incarnate: Word Made Flesh, strikes an ebullient and life-affirming alignment with the HEaRt of how and what it means to make room for all manner of voice. For how and what it means to be blessed with the acceptance of an invitation to share the Wisdom of another culture. Two potent ways of voice-ing.

Philip’s mural, swells with the HEaRt of HEaRing how from two faith expressions the essence of Sawbonna: shared-humanity, hums, whistles, sings, sighs, bleeds, cries, yelps, yearns, beseeches, begs, and spills infinite possibility to and for and because of the call of the liminal to surrender to love.  And that is what those sixty-six books invite us to: love – as each of us cherish and nurture our very voice-ing.

The Book of Lamentations: Our Sustenance
“Exiled” sojourners
Fervently awaken, yet again,
From our tepid
Nightmares and lamentations
Of homesickness.
Our penchant for truncated safety.
Our fraught thirsting for familiar
Wells from which to sip
Our sustenance and
Spin our joy.
For, as dawn remembers us
Into morning’s light,
Longing is sated.
Belonging speaks one phrase.
“Godde is wHERe we are.
And Godde is everywHERe.
Home is wHERe Godde is.”
Exile is nought
But mirage.

©Margot Van Sluytman

For one of Margot’s previous blogposts which discusses the meaning of the word Sawbonna and it connection to the Sawbonna project, click here.

For information on the Sawbonna project, click here

Below are two videos from Margot’s work:

Poetic Evocation of The Sixty Six Books of The Bible by Margot Van Sluytman

Philip Cote’s Mural of Indigenous Creation Stories at Roncesvalles United Church

Margot Van Sluytman is an award-winning, poet, therapeutic writing mentor, and justice activist, who also teaches Global Citizenship at Centennial College in Toronto, Canada. Her books include: Birthing the Celibate Soul; Sing My Spine-A Response to the Song of Songs; Dance with Your Healing-Tears Let Me Begin to Speak; Breathe Me: Why Poetry Matters Works and, Hope is: The Pandemic Poems. She is the Poet Laureate of Roncesvalles United Church in Toronto, Canada and she was nominated for Ontario’s First Poet Laureate.

4 thoughts on “Voice-ing the HEaRt: The Sixty-Six Books of the Bible by Margot Van Sluytman”

  1. Powerful, passionate and poignant. “Exile is naught but mirage”, and yet deep beneath the surface we are all exiles longing to belong. This longing is our home. Beneath the surface the most profound quality of human being is longing. We be longing.


  2. A beautiful poem and Wall of Welcome photo! In just a few lines you have expressed so much of our human condition and relationship to the Divine. The combination of your poem and the mural is profound and a wonderful way to express how our understanding expands when we experience a myriad of ways of being.


  3. So beautiful Margot. I am so moved by how healing is such a creative act. And it is through creative acts that we can share so deeply with each other and with the world at large. Thank you for beings a beacon for people such as me to follow.

    The mural along with the poem create a compounded vibration of power, beauty, community and love. thank you


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