Around the Island

Union Chapel’s Poetry Sunday: Closing summer service

During the summer of 2020, Chairman Jay Sterling and the Chapel trustees came up with the idea to have outdoor services centered around poetry and the work of one poet. Poetry Sundays proved to be immensely popular. This year, Poetry Sunday on Sept. 3, at 10:30 a.m., will highlight the work of Persian poet and mystic, Rumi.

We continue the tradition of our previous Poetry Sundays that honored the work of poets who had deep spiritual messages, by reading their poems and reflecting on their lives including Emily Dickinson, John Keats, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Mary Oliver and John O’Donohue.

Heather Reylek and Island Folk are the guest musicians. Island Folk has been keeping the spirit of traditional music alive on Shelter Island and has performed at the Union Chapel’s end of summer service for over 20 years.

Persian poet Rumi (Jalal ad-din Muhamed Balkhi) lived from 1207 to 1273 CE and spent most of his life in what is now Konya, Turkey. His poems, about 30,000 verses, offer fresh, accessible language and strong rhythms.

Chroniclers of his work believe that much of his poetry was composed in a state of ecstasy, induced by the music of a flute or drum, the hammering of goldsmiths, or the sound of the water mill in Meram, where he used to go with his disciples to enjoy nature. He often accompanied his verses by a whirling dance and many of his poems were composed to be sung in Sufi musical gatherings.

Some of his poetic wisdom includes:

“Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you.” And, “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.”

Celebrate Poetry Sunday outdoors in our leafy grove. Please bring a chair. A reception, catered by Stars Café, will follow the service. In case of rain, the service will move indoors.

Our commemorative book, “All Are Welcome: 150 years of Shelter Island’s Union Chapel in the Grove,” by Carrie Cooperider, is available after the service, at Finley’s Fiction, or by contacting Trustee Kathy Dinkel.