The Shalom Poem and images from the 2001 Hopework poetry retreat

The Shalom Poem

Now is the time to say what
we have to say,
The room is quiet.

Words in our soup, wordless stories on
cloth, and the poetry of good

There was a new voice which you slowly
recognized as your own.

For the ocean, nothing is beneath

Room to spread wide our view
our thoughts, our words and our trust.

I am meant to have found here this
serious play of shaking out ideas
in the earth and history I
learn with you.

Do you love this life?
Do you cherish your humble and silky life?

Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

Remember the beauty of the
prairie morning and that the
meanings come after
the making.

Each holy site contains its
own revelation.

The force that through the green fuse
drives the flower drives my green age.

Ask me whether what I have
done is my life.

Dear dream of utter aliveness
What is the light that you see
Where is the wind that you touch

How poignant and amplified
the world seemed

The prairie is not soft, but it
listens and it holds our secrets.

When you read these lines,
think of me
and of what I have
not written here.

A collective construction by participants of the Oct. 19, 2001 Hopework Folkschool Retreat.

Images from Hopework Folkschool’s Poetry retreat

October 19-21, 2001 at Shalom Hill Farm, Windom, MN.

Responding to September 11 and its aftermath – Jan. 2002 retreat

December 28, 2001

To: Folk School Group

From: John Wallace

Re: Retreat on responding to September 11 and its aftermath, at Shalom Hill Farm, January 18-20, 2002

September 11 and its aftermath seem like a call: Wake up! Get serious! Change your life! I am writing to invite you to a retreat at Shalom Hill Farm, January 18-20. We will share the meanings we are making of September 11 and its aftermath, and explore actions and changes in our lives that we might make to respond.

Information about logistics and about registering for the retreat can be found on the web at

At the folk school evening on November 18 several Somali students from Roosevelt High School shared what September 11 has meant to them and their families. We hope that some of these students will participate in the January retreat.The facilitators of the retreat are Piyali Nath Dalal, Nick Longo, Ilene Alexander, Monica Janzen, and Peter Shea (and possibly also Aleida Benitez, Gunnar Liden, Emily Farell). To give an idea of what the retreat will be like, let me share some of the themes the facilitators have identified-all of these came up in the November 18 meeting–are working to shape into a weekend of conversations and activities. What fears, and also what hopes for the future, have been called forth by what has happened? How can we ally ourselves with local communities, Muslim and other, which now have reason to doubt they will receive welcome and equal respect in this country? How can we create a space to hear a range of responses to September, from profound grief to determination to take particular actions? To what extent do we need new information to respond intelligently and well (e.g., information about United States actions and policies, or about the Muslim world and its history), and to what extent is what we need NOT information, but something else? And what might that something else be? What new conflicts and tensions are we finding in our own lives and relationships? And what new pressures to be silent, to not express our real views, to hide our truth and not to hear others when they express their truth? How can we create spaces to counteract these pressures and heal these conflicts? What does patriotism mean? What things about this country are we proud of? What things about this country are we ashamed of?

A special note. This invitation will reach some people who have not previously taken part in a gathering sponsored by the folk school group. That is great. The folk school gatherings are intended to bring new people together and to be open to people who share the values of wanting stronger communities and working to build them.

To register send John Wallace an email (walla003@umn.ed) with your name, whether you have any special food requirements, whether you need a ride or can drive and if you have room to take others, who we should contact in case of an emergency, when you expect to arrive and depart, and the amount you will pay.