Maryknoll Sisters – Making God's Love Visible

WHEN TEARS SING: Lament as a Way Home to the Heart of God

Start Date:
Monday, May 17, 2021
End Date:
Friday, May 21, 2021
The Maryknoll Sisters Residence
10 Pinesbridge Road
Ossining, NY 10562
United States

The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.” Words of Tennessee Williams, on his tombstone, mirror a way home to the heart of God. When vulnerable and fragile persons find one another, when vulnerable and fragile communities come together, a spirit of hearty resilience and deep joy germinates verdant life between the fissures of a terrible broken world. The Christian tradition names this experience koinonia. Where koinonia is, there is ecclesia, church.

During this program, participants will create koinonia, church, by bringing their lived experiences into plenary and small group conversations and exercises. Particular “voices” will join the conversations and experiences: the Civil Rights Movement of the South; the Missing Generation those who died from AIDS from 1992 to 1993; lament psalms; as well as fiction, non-fiction, and cinema. Over the course of the week, participants will learn practical models of relation that will make a difference for the good in the communities to which they will return. Bill, with the help of biblical, theological, psychological, literary and visual resources, constructs lament as fundamentally relational. His research and experiences in parish and non-parochial settings has led him to trust that when more of life-the-way-it-really-is, is addressed in communities through relational practices and commitments, greater solidarity emerges, deeper joy is aroused, and more fervent passion for justice is awakened.

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Resource Person: Rev. William Blaine-Wallace, PhD, is a retired Episcopal priest. He has ministered in parishes, hospices and in mental health and educational settings. Presently Bill maintains a pastoral counseling, consultation practice, and a spiritual direction ministry. He is the author of Water in the Wastelands: The Sacrament of Shared Suffering (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003) and the newly released When Tears Sing: The Art of Lament in Christian Community (Orbis, 2020). Bill has contributed to books and journals in the fields of pastoral theology and spirituality. He and his spouse live on a farm in the foothills of western Maine.


Blaine-Wallace, William. When Tears Sing: The Art of Lament in Christian Community. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2020.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Letters and Papers from Prison. New York: Touchstone, 1997.

Frank, Arthur. The Wounded Storyteller. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Holmes, Barbara. Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices of the Black Church.
Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2017.

Lane, Belden. The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

O’Connor, Flannery. “Revelation.” In The Complete Stories. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1971. (pp. 488-509).

Soelle, Dorothy. Suffering. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1983.