What I Meant to Say

Wendy Babiak's Visions and Revisions


Another Unexpected Turn of Events


If you’ve followed me and my meandering spiritual path (which, since it occupies a significant chunk of my mental space and therefore my poetry, has been a rather public one, which I have not let make me feel I couldn’t take whatever turns I was led to take, following the small, quiet voice that leads me), then you may or may not have seen coming what just happened. I surely didn’t.

So several weeks ago, since our pastor (at a congregational church we had joined about a year and a half ago, after my husband and I had both separately had our conversion experiences, his involving calm and rational intellect and mine hallucinations and vomiting, because that’s the way I roll, y’all — really, when in “Poem In Which I Address Richard Dawkins As Dick I say my soul “has grabbed me by the neck/ and thrown me down,” I’m not kidding) had announced that he was going to deliver a sermon about Martin Luther and the glories of capitalism, my husband decided we ought to check out the Greek Orthodox Church downtown, since already he and the boy (who grows a pretty excellent beard, btw), had been feeling pulled to Orthodoxy. Hubby had actually been baptized and christmated as an infant into a small Orthodox sect at a Carpatho-Rusyn Catholic church in Pennsylvania, as his father had been, and his father before him. A church actually part of the Greek Rite. And they were both craving weekly communion. And I rather failed to see the point of communal worship without it, myself.

And the church we went to was beautiful. And the liturgy was beautiful. Mostly standing, mostly sung. Long story short, we changed churches. And a few weeks into it, I’m thinking, really? Orthodox? I was facing the decision, whether or not to undergo the sacrament of chrismation, to officially convert. You might imagine what could give me pause.

And then, taking a rare moment on Twitter, this comes across my feed, shared by Milkweed Press, the press I’m intent on having publish my second book of poems, because the place the excerpt talks about, Maaloula, had just seen some of the violence that continues to tear apart Syria. And it felt like Godstuff. So much so that I chose St. Thekla as my patron, and I was chrismated two weeks ago. So that’s what happened. I’m now an Orthodox Christian. Me, who had poems published when I was still in Shreveport in American Atheist Magazine and Free Inquiry.

There’s a reason I call this blog “What I Meant To Say.” And God really does have a great sense of humor. And now I give an even bigger crap about what happens in Syria.

Keeping My Word


Keeping My Word

I said I’d wear the obnoxious floral bike shorts if managed to raise $1,000 for the Southern Tier AIDS Program. Well, my generous friends and family gave over $1,200 to sponsor me in today’s ride, so here’s the proof. The shorts did not go without comment, you can trust.

Thanks to everyone who gave, as well as to those who let me know they couldn’t afford to give right now (times are hard!) but wished me well. We had a great day, and raised a whole bunch of money (over $200K!) which will go directly to helping people in our area.

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Open Letter to President Obama

Mr President:

I write not because I think you will listen, but because I can’t live with myself if I don’t give voice to my objection to your position on using force in Syria. I am sickened that we find ourselves, as Americans, in this position again, watching our government try to make a case for military action in a country that is not threatening us.

I’m not going to detail here how our foreign policy for decades has benefited an economic elite and caused the very unrest our military actions are allegedly intended to quell. Such knowledge is out there for anyone to discover, who cares to look.

I am going to appeal to your humanity, because, despite your actions that illustrate the contrary, I feel you must still have some, somewhere. You seem to love your wife and daughters, at least. So remember, when you order another batch of bombs or drone strikes, that many of the men you’re striking at have wives and children, too. Like the children you killed at that birthday party in Pakistan.

I have sometimes wondered if you’re not a hostage in that big house, unable to do anything but the bidding of the warlords who run this country, the industry heads who profit from our endless wars, the munitions manufacturers and dealers and Big Oil representatives. That if you don’t do what you’re told, you’ll end up like Kennedy. It must suck not to be a free man, whatever the perks.

But then I think that maybe you do have a choice, but have simply been blinded by the glitter of Washington, by having your ego stroked, by having so much smoke blown up your rear end. The leader of the free world, and all that. Pffft.

Let me tell you, Barack Hussein: your soul is in peril. Wake up. No one knows when we go to meet our maker. I suggest you put your own house in order. Do not keep murdering innocent people. There is nothing you can say from that Oval Office that will convince me that what the people of Syria need is more violence.

I’ll pray for you at the table tonight, that you see the light. That you might strive to deserve the prize the Nobel committee awarded you.

very best wishes for a more peaceful tomorrow,

Wendy Babiak

In Case You Thought I Was Kidding…


In Case You Thought I Was Kidding...

…about those 80s bike shorts being obnoxious. I’m more than halfway to my fundraising goal of $1,000 for the AIDS Ride for Life, in which I’ll be riding 42 miles. If you’d like the opportunity to directly help people suffering from AIDS in the Southern Tier, click on the photo. It’s safe, secure, and tax deductible.

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Crowdfunding Sponsorship for a Good Cause

Speaking of feeling like a hero, in the AIDS Ride for Life, all the riders are considered heroes. I’ll be riding for the shortest bit, only 42 miles, but for me, that’s going to be pushing it. I’m in training…an 11-mile loop is feeling easy, and I’ll be increasing my distance every few days until I’m confident that I won’t keep anyone waiting at the finish line. The ride is coming soon, September 7th, and funds raised benefit the Southern Tier AIDS Program, which provides direct assistance to those in our area suffering from this still-all-too-prevalent disease. I only recently set up my fundraising page, so I’m playing catch-up a bit. 

Click here to give a little or a lot. Everything helps.


What I Did This Summer

It’s not quite over, but it’s winding down. Goldenrod paints a bright yellow swath across the view from Plantation Road where in a few months snow will shine bright through the bare trees. 

I’m just a couple of weeks past completing the Permaculture Design Course out at Cayuta Sun Farm with the Fingerlakes Permaculture Institute. This was our classroom:Image



Which was amazing, even with the rain and the mosquitoes. If I had had a classroom like that in my previous learning experiences, I might have considered going on to grad school. What is the opposite of Nature Deficit Disorder? Nature Surplus Disorder? When I got back I had it bad, missing something fierce all that rain-washed green. This was my ceiling at which I gazed at rest:





(That dappled pattern moved.) At night I played my flute in a call and respond with night birds and coyotes. When it rained hard on the tent (for which my waterproofing proved adequate, yay!), I could play with my whole belly and not imagine being overheard.

It’s a Ravensong flute, and I have to say that I’m really, really pleased with it. I played it a little at the talent show, with which the first week of the course ended. How cool is that, that every PDC has to have a talent show? They figured if we’re going to put forward ideas as counter to the mainstream as many of those advocated by Permaculture (capture my waste stream, really?), we’d better be able to get up in front of our peers and do something scary. I recited my poem “Woman With A Broom,” and made a little speech about the flute tradition, and played. Do something every day that scares you, I’m told. 

Speaking of scary, I rode out there on my bike, loaded down with stuff (not all of it! Thanks again to Karryn for carrying some of the heaviest). It was hard, and awkward, with a high center of gravity. But I made it. And felt like a hero when I made it. Karryn, one of the teachers at the PDC and a FLPC co-founder, talks about our comfort zone, our challenge zone, and our danger zone. Different for everyone, and even for the same individual, they can fluctuate. So the trick is to widen our comfort zone by challenging ourselves and moving out into our challenge zone, being cautious not to cross into our danger zone (something I’m still trying to figure out, but I got better as the course progressed).

Tomorrow I’m going to pick up a bushel of peaches from a farmer (Melissa at Good Life) whose farm we toured, and then can them up (whatever the family doesn’t eat fresh in the next few days) with cardamom. And soon I’ll be sharing an interview with Wendy Jenahara Tremayne, whose book, The Good Life Lab, (isn’t serendipity a lovely thing?) you should hunt down and read, if you’re interested in making your own good life. And why wouldn’t you be?

Here, I’ll spare you the hunt:



Buy it right from the press.



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