Monk in the World Guest Post: Reverend Deb Goldman

I am delighted to share a beautiful submission to our Monk in the World guest post series. Read on for Reverend Deborah Goldman’s poem “I Spread My Wings” written during the recent Abbey of the Arts daylong retreat, On Being Free: The Spirituality of Howard Thurman and Harriet Tubman led by Therese Taylor-Stinson.

It came as a response to our morning reflections on the embodiment of freedom; my noontime walk, during which I listened repeatedly to Nina Simone singing, “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free;” and to two stirring excerpts from Therese’s upcoming book, Walking the Way of Harriet Tubman: Black Mystic & Freedom Fighter. In this poetic reflection, I make reference to the fact that like Harriet, I have experienced multiple brain injuries; like Nina, I have struggled with mental illness; and like many of my fellow participants, I have lived for decades with chronic illness and a non-conforming identity and spiritual path. I incorporate also words from the poet, Maya Angelou, and Therese’s own words from the introduction to her book. As I continued writing, I had a distinct, embodied experience of Mama Harriet calling to me and taking my hand.

I Spread My Wings
By Deborah Goldman, MA
April 17, 2021

I spread my wings
without inhibition
and allow my walk to dance

Opening up to the great expanse of natural world
I am free
in this moment

I drop my stories now
of disability and impairment
True, yet not whole
And feel the caged bird in my heart
breaking free

Trapped by my own fear and doubt
and limited beliefs
Fighting valiantly
with an undying faith
in myself
in possibility
in a different way

Confined by societal norms
that make no space
for the truth of who I am

I break open the box
and jump out

Mama Harriet calls me to the river
calls me to run barefoot on the earth
calls me to be courageous
and trust in the flow of the water
upstream

She takes my hand
and tells me to use my voice
to speak out
And my ears
to listen
And my good body
to dance
And my creative spirit
to weave together a new vision
of what is possible

She implores me
to use my privileges and freedoms
to free others along the way
To set down my false ego
and needs to be perfect
brilliant
even good enough

None of that matters
when you are setting someone else free

Speak up
she implores me
Be silent no more
Find your own underground railroad
your network
your muse
And if you can’t find it
create it

Listen to the wisdom
of your sisters
and brothers
and non-binary siblings
Listen
Uplift
Encourage
And break through

There is more to you than
your body
your disability
your mind
your thoughts
your beliefs
your identity
your bank account
your successes

Beyond all those illusions
is a spirit
with vast soaring wings
and a wide-open heart
Feel it
now


Infused by her love of poetry, dance, and the natural world, and informed by her experience as an Expressive Therapist and Ritual Artist, Reverend Deb Goldman is known for her warm and grounded presence, her creation of sacred space, her deep listening and genuine outpouring of personalized prayer, and her engaging leadership style. In her role as Soul Care Companion, Deb has dived deeply into the intersection of healing, spirituality, and the arts. She has supported others in finding soulful practices to deepen connection to Self, Source, Others, and the Earth; and tools to facilitate self-expression and discovery of hidden, disenfranchised, and powerful parts of themselves. Through her work as a Life-Cycle Celebrant® and Interspiritual Minister, she has learned about the power of story, of giving voice to and honoring each person’s life journey through milestones, transitions, and periods of struggle, loss, grief, and healing. And in her training as a healthcare chaplain, she has learned to be fully present for the great mystery of life and death, of pain and suffering, eternal love and letting go.

She can be contacted at debinpeace@gmail.com and I live in Arlington, MA in the US.

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