Here, in the long room,
With the green walls like curtains
And large mirrors ringed with gold,
With the three glass chandeliers
And the art on the pink cracked ceiling;
Here, in the lovely villa
With the gorgeous gardens and uneven ground
That provokes anxiety in some of us and
Is a reminder of history for all of us;
In our ideal city where we are the people
Where coffee is sacred
And lunch is holy;
Here, near the tombs of Lawrence’s lovers of life,
Where women were citizens and queens,
We arrive on the bus
That winds through hilly green roads
Splashed with neat yellow rows of leaves
As the ancient walled city
With the cobble-stoned streets
And towering Duomo
Recedes, like a dream.
Here we gather,
Mostly women with a sprinkling of men,
From Kenya and South Africa and Uganda
and Egypt and the Sudan and Nigeria and Zimbabwe,
From Italy and England
From Chile and Argentina and Colombia and Brazil
From Canada and France
From Turkey and Switzerland and Greece
From India and the United States
And Cambodia and the Philippines and Lebanon
And Albania and Sweden and Haiti
And Iran and Afghanistan and Pakistan and Australia
And others I have not named or do not yet know.
Although we differ in age and race and
Disability and religion and paths behind us and journeys ahead of us,
We are united in our goals of seeking truth,
Of listening with an open heart so as to heal,
And of caring for ourselves as we work.
Here we learn about the eight dimensions of the
Global Mental Health Action Plan
And add our own.
Here we do the hard and sometimes painful work of deep reflection,
Of seeking the inner way.
Here we speak with courage and listen with care.
We share where we are wounded but not broken.
In the room
In the Villa
Near the tombs