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Nessa McCasey

Writing Our Hearts Out
January-February 2004

by Nessa McCasey

We are very pleased to welcome Nessa McCasey to SoulfulLiving.com as our newest monthly columnist!  Each month, Nessa will offer a poem or short writing based on our magazine's monthly theme and will provide techniques for creative expression that you can use to explore the topic yourself.

Daring to Dream Out Loud

Read Our "Words of Grace" Collaborative Poem

On a day of tripping vicariously around the Internet and its various stories and news, I was drawn to pursue information outside American media. I had often wondered about how the world looked at the same events that we do, and have been fairly ignorant about foreign journalists and writers on current events. Keeping up with the daily news had become exhausting and disheartening for me, besides.

So, giving myself a break from the rush of preparing for December gatherings and gift-givings, I ventured onto an article by John Hooper, British journalist for The Guardian. It was a different kind of Christmas story. The article was titled, "Hail Morea" and was about a man named Natale Morea. Natale is translated as "Christmas" from the Italian. The story was out of the Rome dispatch office of The Guardian. Morea has become my ideal of how to dare to live in order to actively create a more positive world.

I wanted to write about Natale Morea, but my words would not come in any way that felt fitting. I turned to an intriguing form of poetry, named "Found Poetry." Basically, the poet takes several words or phrases from a piece of writing and creates a poem based upon it. I am especially grateful to John Hooper for writing the story about Natale Morea, for my life has changed by coming to know about him in this way. I want to help others notice people like Natale Morea, before they are heroes, for their lives matter simply by surviving in our sometimes harsh world. I want our world to become a better place, for everyone.

Here’s the Found Poem, and my writing challenge follows.

Being Humanity Himself: A Found Poem
By Nessa McCasey
Based on the original newspaper article by John Hooper

The newspaper said,
according to his nephew,
"Natale Morea is an oddball:
a homosexual and a transvestite."
He was born in a village in the "heel" of Italy.
He worked in a costume jewelry factory
until the factory closed and
"Natale Morea was made redundant"
as the article stated.
So was I drawn to the contrast of
harsh, condemning words
and a gentle man whose spirit shows
as far away as isolated America
where no media source reported the story.
Morea continued his life, starting a business of his own,
an amusement arcade,
which did not thrive.
He ended up homeless in Rome,
living and sleeping on the streets of the capital.
On just an ordinary night
of his downtrodden life,
something happened
something happened so fast
something happened
you know,
where you don’t get the chance
to ponder your actions.
Natale Morea, humane human,
despised throughout his life
by people who wouldn’t ever know him,
took action to intervene
when girls having a fun night
out on the town
were attacked by young men.
Others might turn away from
this kind of trouble.
Natale Morea did not.
"He put himself
between the women
and their attackers,
allowing them to escape,
and paid for his courage
with a beating so dreadful
it put him into a coma."
Lying unconscious in a hospital bed,
others have taken notice of him
and what he has done.
The president of his home region said,
Natale Morea "has given us all a lesson in humanity."
A central Italian village has voted
to provide him with a modest monthly allowance
for the rest of his life.
The mayor of Rome visited him
on Christmas Eve,
on his birthday,
and left at his bedside
the keys to a flat
in the eastern suburbs.
Oh, what a world where
Natale Morea lives bravely,
helping his neighbors
and when he gets hurt,
his neighbors help him.
A world helping each other,
neighbor to neighbor,
sister to brother,
stranger to stranger,
old to young,
young to old;
let it continue with me today
as I tell you about Natale Morea.

Although I don’t know that Morea will ultimately survive, a recent news update filed by John Hooper indicates that doctors are hopeful about his condition. My heart is connected to this man who thought of helping others ahead of considering his own well-being.

How shall we change the world? Natale Morea knows the only way, and he has positively impacted many lives because he acted.

How then shall we live? How shall we dream ourselves alive into a world filled with hope, compassion, joy, peace, prosperity? We shall do this with our actions.

The American press may not pick up on our stories, just as they did not pick up Natale Morea’s story. Yet, as we affect another life in a positive way, maybe by easing the loneliness of an elderly housebound neighbor or acknowledging the homeless man asking for money on the street corner, for example, we change the communities where we live. We will change our own lives, too, in these small or profound ways.

I feel empowered by the story of Natale Morea in Rome, Italy. He made a difference in the lives of the young women when he intervened on that dark, aggressive night. He made a difference in my life as new inspiration and a renewed sense of hope gave to me more energy to act positively now, tomorrow, and throughout this upcoming, full-possibility 2004. It is my dream, which I am saying out loud here at SoulfulLiving.com, that I will continue in this energetic way of living out positive changes, helping where I can.

What will you dare to dream this year? How will you dream something new into the world? You have the power to bring about change, in a split-second decision or with your thoughtful planning for change. Natale Morea acted in a split-second decision to stand between those young women and their attackers. He is an inspiration.

Because I have been so affected by Natale’s story, my first set of writing ideas involve writing out your dreams for change, within your own life or within your family, your community, or the world. If you want to speak them out loud, send them to me at nessa@soulfulliving.com, and I will gather them as a powerfully joined voice for Dreaming A New World. Every bit of light, especially the light of radiance on your face as your empower yourself, brings hope and light to our world. Please include your name on the writing if you would like your identity acknowledged on the website. I sincerely appreciate all responses but also encourage you to write exactly what you need to write, even if you are not ready to share it with anyone else yet.

I dream about ____________________...

I dare to change __________________...

I begin today to ___________________...

As another writing challenge, try writing a Found Poem, based on a clipping out of the newspaper, or a slip of paper found in the parking lot. You can use a few words from the original writing and add more words of your own, as I did, or you can reorder the lines and not add any original writing. Credit the author of the original piece and you have made a Found Poem.

I am very happy to read any of your writings in response to the ideas here. Dialogue increases the healing potential of writing in a therapeutic manner. But above all, I honor your process, especially if you are writing for yourself.

in peace, in hope, in poetry,
and especially,
in celebration of the anniversary of SoulfulLiving.com,

© Copyright 2004 Nessa McCasey.  All Rights Reserved.

Words of Grace


Last month, we started with a graceful poem about Prayerful thoughts from poet, Lisa Colt. I asked for responses from readers to create our own SoulfulLiving.com collaborative poem where we ask for personal and universal blessings. The responses were so heartening to read, as each came in. I deeply thank each who responded for stepping forward as you did, using your words to connect each of us in what seems to me to be a stunning prayer for this new year.

For 2004…

May God enlighten us to be "a part of" and not "apart from." — Grace Petersen


May we strive for light and bathe in tranquil wonder.
May our light within, shine without, and rain peace upon our lands.
May the storms rumble, and downpours cleanse our weary souls.
May we be born again, made anew, and forever seek the light.
May we hush and be still, listening within for our guidance.
May we walk with faith, act with faith, and be an example of divine light.
May the material fade away and our love become all important.
May man work together hand in hand, love one another,
     and reach out to one and all.
May hope pierce our hearts, so we may we live in hope, not hopelessness.
May morning dew kiss the trees, and sparkle heavens light.
When we open our mouths to sing, may heaven's angels dance,
     a glorious spectacular sight.
When we open our mouths to sing, may the stars in the ink night sky
     twinkle and sing joyous harmonies.
When we open our mouths to sing, may the clouds part and the sun’s rays
     blanket warm blessings upon us. — Bobbie Sandlin


May we shimmer and dance like the moon
     across the deep, mysterious night sky. — anon.


May we love fully - simply love - love when we are wounded. — Lila L Weisberger


May we find ways to experience growth
     so that we may be more of who we are. — Laurie Arnold


May we tend the heart with compassionate hands,
     may we believe in the genius of all children,
     and may peace be borne in every heart,
     in every home throughout all worlds. — Lisa Roma


May we begin the New Year
     with gratitude in our hearts,
     and may we show that gratitude to all,
     as a light that shines like a beacon.
May we find hope within ourselves
     and foster it in others.
May we have true peace
     on this vast and sacred earth of ours.
May we hear the voices of all children,
     and recognize how much they need to be heard.
May we never categorize, generalize,
     or marginalize another human being.
May we see how similar
     we all truly are.
May we give because we want to,
     and not because we have to.
May we remember the many wisdom lessons
     we have learned over time.
May we join our voices with others,
     singing, praying or whispering,
     as we realize that the "may we’s" could go on and on,
     because the wishes in our souls are never-endless,
     and long to be expressed. — Jean Bass


May we meet each day with expectation and grace
     and see our love in every single face. — EJB


May we bless ourselves each and every day with the gift of self-love. — Susan F Field


May we find true companions on our many journeys — Alison Heim


May we always remember to listen for the lost child in every adult.
May we always remember where we house our soul.
May we always find the magnifying glass for our special map.
May we never stop our laughs. — Johanna G. Martinez


May we all feel the love of others, joining in community,
     as we learn to live and prosper in peace together. — Nessa McCasey


And so it is. — anon.


I truly believe that poets are walking everywhere in this world. Each of the respondents proved that to me; however quietly and undiscovered, our poetic voices can be raised one by one and thus will move this world into what we all dream it can be.


Read Nessa McCasey's Past Columns:

December 2003 - Joining Together with Our Words of Grace

November 2003 - Midlife Questioning: One Writer's Path to Learning

October 2003 - Can We Write (or Read) Our Way to Serenity?

Nessa McCasey
Nessa McCasey, A former technical editor for NASA, street/performance poet in Denver, corporate writer, single mom, marketing communications specialist, and church music director. She is charting a new path for work and life in the profession of Poetry Therapy serving as a State Representative for the National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT) where she facilitates group or individual poetry therapy sessions and presents poetry and writing workshops to jump-start others in their own powers of creative expression. You can reach Nessa at: poetnessa@writersofwrongs.com


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