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The 2021 volume of the inSpirit Series is an anthology of poems, prayers, and reflections from Unitarian Universalists about their experiences of 2020.

Product Code: 3614
ISBN: 9781558968721
Publisher: Skinner House Books
Published Date: 06/01/2021
Pages: 128
Size: 7 x 5
Availability:In stock
N/A
Price: $8.00

2020 was a year unlike any other. A year of masks and marches. A tale of two pandemics, COVID-19 and the deep-rooted pandemic of white supremacy and structural racism. Shelter in This Place, the 2021 volume of the inSpirit Series, is an anthology of poems, prayers, and reflections from Unitarian Universalists about their experiences of 2020—offered as a testament to our collective grit and grief, rage and resistance, love and loneliness.

With readings that come from a variety of perspectives, identities, and geographies, and were written throughout the long year, Shelter in This Place captures the complex reality of 2020. Editor Meg Riley writes in her introduction, “My deep hope is that this collection of writings allows each one of us to know that, even in the separateness of our masked and socially distanced grief, we are not mourning alone.” And yet despite the grief and loss collected in these pages, the writers describe resilience and joy too. They take solace in the birth of ducklings and the unfurling of new leaves. They persevere.

May this book contain words that heal, comfort, and inspire you in the days ahead.


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Introduction by Meg Riley

The Birds Will Sing by Daniel C. Kanter

The Nurse and the Handmade Mask, with Hair Ties by Joanne M. Giannino

Telling You Now by Jason Cook

Remembering by Eileen Casey-Campbell

Breakfast, Chaos, Bedtime by Lisa M. Doege

The Sermon by Martha Kirby Capo

In the Covid-19 Lab by Chalice L. Gustaveson

We Cannot Escape One Another by Manish Mishra-Marzetti

Plans by Megan Lloyd Joiner

The Long Day by Mya Sophia Wade-Harper

A Prayer for Going Forward by Jamie W. Johnson

Sheltered in Place by Lisa Nosal

Portal by Emily Wright-Magoon

A Prayer for You by KJ Walker

Reverence by Peg Duthie

Necessary Mercies by Emily DeTar Birt

Giving Love the Last Word by Tara K. Humphries

About People by Jami A. Yandle

Not Alone by Linnea Nelson

Myrsky Tulee (The Storm Comes) by Manish Mishra-Marzetti

Could We Talk About by Anne Barker

The Beast of Mind by Richard Paul Baydin

God is Sleeping on the Couch Tonight by Emily DeTar Birt

Don’t Forget to Mourn by JeKaren Olaoya

Protest in the Laundry Room by Kathleen Wade

Road Trip Bingo by Megan Lloyd Joiner

The Amulet by Joanne M. Giannino

Dónde estoy: this Ikea table from Ando that Is now a desk by Cassandra Montenegro

The People on the Street by Lisa M. Doege

Birthing by Kim Wildszewski

Faces of Grief by Holly Mueller

A Letter to Those We Lost Too Soon by Mya Sophia Wade-Harper

Blessing of the Emotional Support Animals by Ebony C. Peace

What Now? by Roger Butts

Prayer sin Oración by Cassandra Montenegro

Making Masks by Amanda K. Poppei

Prayer for While in The Struggle by Margalie Belizaire

F*** You by Manish Mishra-Marzetti

Psalm 121: We Lift Up Our Weary Eyes by Ali Bell-Delgado

Ducklings by Holly Mueller

Doing Alright by Alix Klingenberg

Dandelion Kindness by Fiona Heath

A Blessing for Those Whose Loved One Was Not Perfect by Lora Brandis

Prayer for The Lamp Keeper by Joe Cherry

New Mother of the Pandemic by Alyssa Franklin

With You by Linnea Nelson

Quiet Bravery by Holly Mueller

Prayer for May 31, 2020 in Minneapolis,

Six Days After the Police Killed George Floyd by Arif Mamdani and Ruth MacKenzie

Sorrow by Linnea Nelson

Fear by Megan Lloyd Joiner

Gift of Life by Erica L. Bartlett

Waves by Anne Barker

One Little Light by Brenda Cole

Survivor’s Faith by Emily DeTar Birt

Some Days by Anne Barker

It Is a Good Day by Danielle Di Bona

The Shores of Hope by Daniel C. Kanter

All Souls Day by Steven Leigh Williams

Sabbath by Megan Lloyd Joiner

Solstice: Litany for the Long Darkness by Atena O. Danner

The Turning by QuianaDenae Perkins

New Year’s Flood by Kate Wilkinson

Essential Services by Michael Tino

Sheltered in Place

by Lisa Nosal


As we navigate our world as it is now, this strange and unfamiliar world where we must physically distance ourselves from each other and shelter in place: Let us remember the trees.

Let’s root ourselves like they do. Standing separately, yes, but with our roots reaching down into the earth and stretching out until they meet and intertwine with the roots of our neighbors.

Let’s shelter each other like they do. Reaching our branches up into the sky and stretching out until we can sense—not touch, just sense—our neighbors’ branches, where they can start dancing together in the wind.

We stand in a grove, separate but connected. Our roots entangled with each other, our leaves whispering with each other. We grow rooted in our communities, drawing wisdom up from the earth, this land, this home. We draw up the wisdom of those who have tended this land for millennia, who know the meaning of this place.

We extend up into the sky, inviting the wisdom of those who live in the branches. Wisdom from the feet and claws and feathers and fur of those who have lived and played here, who have found shelter and community here. All those, past and present, seen and hidden, who shelter in this place with us. Who find shelter in this place with us.

Let us tap into the wisdom of trees during this time. Let us live into the meaning of deep community and radical connection even as we are seemingly separated. Let us grow our connections so deep into the earth and so wide into the canopy that we know, like the trees, that we are not alone. We are never alone.

Let us remember we are all sheltered and connected by the sky.

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by Anne Robertson
on 11/3/2021
from Winchester, MA
Snapshot In Time
The beauty of this collection of poetry and prose is the way it captures the rawness of the pandemic, especially in its early days. Even just a year later, many of the pieces do provide a kind of shelter from the way we have twisted the deep and pure emotions of fear, rage, and grief of 2020 into the manufactured conspiracies and expanded violence of 2021. 

How is it possible that in reading these experiences I felt transported back to a simpler age? Yet, I did. We have lived a thousand lives and died 700,000 deaths since last year. Shelter in This Place provides a snapshot in time; a reminder of where we found hope and where despair welled; how we coped and how we cried; who we celebrated and who we were when our only companion was in the mirror. It will be important, from time to time, to take shelter in that memory.
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