Six and Twenty Club talks poetry, joy, hope


The Feb. 17 meeting of the Six and Twenty Club was called to order by president Patti Cook at the First Christian Church in Wilmington. Barbara Leeds shared the historical minutes from March 6, 1998. Mindy Henson presented the day’s program.

The book she is circulating this year is “Poetry Unbound: 50 Poems to Open Your World” by Pádraig Ó Tuama. The collection is from poets around the world. Each poem has a brief introduction with thoughtful analysis afterwards by Ó Tuama. Henson enjoys listening to Ó Tuama’s podcast, “Poetry Unbound.”

Henson gave a biographical sketch of Ó Tuama, a poet and theologian who was raised in a Catholic family in County Cork, Ireland. Studying theology but unable to join the priesthood because of his sexual orientation, he pivoted to doing community mediator work, particularly after the Troubles, the period of violent political conflict in Northern Ireland. He became the leader of Corrymeela, which is Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization. Ó Tuama’s current work revolves around themes of language, power, conflict, and religion. He has written several books of poetry and prose.

The resilience of Ó Tuama in his personal life and that of the people he has worked with led Henson to consider the nature of human resilience. Hope is one important predictor of such resilience. Famous chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall coauthored “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times” with Douglas Abrams. Goodall explains why she has hope and why it is so important that we have hope to tackle the many challenges that we face to be resilient – to build a better future for the next generations and our planet.

Douglas Abrams also co-authored “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World,” which is a dialogue between His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a Buddhist monk, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an Anglican priest. Their meeting took place for the occasion of the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday in Dharamsala, India. Henson highlighted the lives of these two spiritual leaders, particularly the oppression that each experienced under authoritarian rule. Instead of being angry and bitter about the atrocities they faced, they chose to live lives that exemplify our best human characteristics in ways that care for and better the world. Their joint goal was to bring more joy into life. The book was recently made into a movie called “Mission: Joy.” It is an insightful and endearing film which can be streamed on multiple platforms.

As hostess, Henson served refreshments of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies with strawberry filling, chocolates, and water while members met in committees as the club prepares for its 125th anniversary celebration in October.

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