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Boomer Writers

Willamette Writers Meet In The Old Church

(image courtesy

(image courtesy

Everyone has a story to tell.

The group who meet once a month at Portland’s Old Church have a story to write.

From the looks of them, it’s a non-denominational crowd, but the spirit is present.

Last night was no different, except the speaker had more than a little preacher in her presentation. Maybe that happens when anyone talks about the Grand Canyon.

Naseem Rakha knows the Canyon, and the Canyon knows her.

They got know each other on several dates.

She spoke from the front of the church in a tone I found confusing at first. Her voice carried yearning and passion about a place.

More than once I had to remind myself she was talking about her relationship with the Grand Canyon, not something between two fictional characters.

Rakha’s love affair with the Canyon seems never ending. When it does end, the Canyon will be there without her. Could the yearning and passion be rooted in the hundreds of millions of years visible in the Canyon’s walls and Naseem’s understanding of her place in it?

She’s been alone with the Canyon more than anyone I’ve heard before. The energy she draws from this geological marvel flows out to the audience and converts them. I hope I wasn’t the only one thinking of renting a pack mule and growing a beard, the only one drawn toward the beauty of complete isolation.

What better way to leave the world behind than a three week float on the Colorado like Naseem did. She said the walls of the Canyon rose quickly once she was on the water. It was obvious that whatever happened ‘up there’ would have to happen without her. Those walls weren’t made for climbing.

Where else could you find that feeling? The International Space Station? Mt. Everest? Neither has the appeal of the Grand Canyon.

This sermon on the edge wound down with a beautiful slide show and the sort of reading that stuns listeners into a new level of awareness. The slight woman in red joined the Canyon once, and will again. Her joy is evident in the timing of her Artist in Residence there.

She chose winter, a time of few people, and arrived with a heart burning to share a timeless love. A woman and her canyon.

Willamette Writers got lucky last night. Now they know what it means to find a place of meaning and say, “Here. I am here.”

Northwest baby boomers need reminders to pass along.

Naseem Rakha’s knows that place and took us with her.

Thank you.




About David Gillaspie
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