Still Woman
                                          Still Woman     


Given the increasing intensity of intolerant and oppressive influence at work in the world, many clients, friends, current and former students and family members have spoken to me about the need for a “gathering place” in which we may come together in peace, freedom and unity to support, encourage and inspire the proactive virtues we want to strengthen in ourselves and model for others.


To that end, I invite you to participate…HERE. Not surprisingly, the theme is Resilience, which I have come to experience and understand as The Wisdom of Calm Abiding.


Has your worldview been profoundly challenged by the experience of illness, injury, unexpected change, disappointment, suffering or loss? If you have come to a place of centering and “calm abiding”, others will learn from your experience.  Has your experience of The Divine been instrumental?  If so, in what ways?


Write about your experience in poetry, fiction, or memoir. Paint or draw or sculpt or compose or move; send along your images or describe your experience to inspire others! Let us know about resources you have found helpful and inspiring.  These might be books, magazines or other publications as well as websites, and creative works: music, art, dance and movement.  Please include a short explanation.


If you are still struggling, share your doubts and questions.  We will keep each other good company! I will respond as much as possible and will post questions and/or responses that may be relevant to the group.


I will also post those contributions that widen and deepen our understanding of resilience as a creative cosmic endeavor.  Please recognize that editing of content or length may be necessary. There is no distinction made on the basis of creative skill or literary merit.  Honest and penetrating self-examination and reflective consideration of your current (and former) worldview are beneficial to others. 


Please indicate if you would prefer to remain anonymous or would like your name to be used.


                                          February 2, 2017


I received this from a dear friend who is active in Lay Ministry at First Parish Unitarian Church in Brewster MA:



These Times

By Clarissa Pinkola Estes

American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst


My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.


You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.


I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.


Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.


In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.


We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear.


Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.


What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.


One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these - to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.


Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.


The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.




                                          February 2, 2017


Adapted from a recent posting by Brother David Vryhof of SSJE



Thomas Kelly was a Quaker educator and mystic who wrote in the first half of the 20th century. In his book, A Testament of Devotion, first published in 1941, he revealed the secret of his own spiritual practice, which was to abide in union with Christ as he went about his daily tasks: “There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once,” he wrote. “On one level, we may be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within, behind the scenes, at a profounder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship, and a gentle receptiveness to divine breathing.”


“The secular world values and cultivates the first level,” Kelly said, “assuming that there is where the real business of humankind is done. It scorns, or smiles in tolerant amusement, at the cultivation of the second level…  But in a deeply spiritual culture [people] know that the deep level of prayer and of divine assistance is the most important thing in the world.  It is at this deep level that the real business of life is determined.”


Kelly warned that it may require months or even years of persistent effort to train ourselves to stay focused on God at this deeper level of being while carrying on our everyday tasks.


“Practice comes first… not theory or dogma,” Kelly taught. This practice of inward orientation was not for ‘special souls,’ Kelly insisted; rather, it was “the heart of [spiritual practice]. And it was the secret of the inner life of Jesus himself, who lived in constant communication and dependence on the One he knew as “Father.”



February 2: Imbolc


This teaching was composed by Kim Duckett  (Mother Tongue Ink 2016) and included in the WeMoon  2017  Gaia Rhythms for Womyn, page 53.


Imbolc in dark, cold winter can signify endurance in the face of adversity and scarcity: we may encounter fragility, tenuousness, uncertainty, darkness and despair beyond what we think we can endure.  Women know these experiences.  We have held both new life and death in our hands.  We have wondered: will this child make it, will the addict live or die, will my lover come home, will I survive this loss?  Will I be ok? Will there be enough resources to see us into spring?


I imagine our ancestors sitting in circle at this time of year, with whatever sources of light they had, listening to one another.  Just so, we are invited to sit circle together and share how we “are”, what we need, what is frozen, what is thawing, what is fragile.  In the deep winter, we begin again.  We say Yes again each year: Yes to returning light, to the coming outward time.  We are saying Yes to the living of life again and whatever it may bring: I speak of Imbolc as a time of Faith. 




                                       February 9, 2017


If our intention is to be encouragers, we need to recognize how we are encouraged…and discouraged. 


In his book 10 Thousand Ways to Listen, Mark Nepo poses funky instructive questions. I have used these questions with teachers and graduate students who report that they re-purpose them in their own personal and professional practice.




These responses are sampled from participants:


Fear of what others think of me.  Scorn of the creative process.  Ridicule of my experience of God.  The fixation on making money.  Feeling responsible for everyone and everything.  Lack of trust. 




Writing poetry.   Art journaling.   Making music. Gardening. Dancing. Being a mother/father/daughter/son.




Snow falling…sunsets…listening to music…walking in the woods or on the beach…my dog…my cat…Reiki…sitting in church/synagogue…Praying the Rosary… Centering Prayer…deep listening…deep speaking…Essential Questioning…silence.





I promote “fetchability”: openness of heart, mind, body, soul.


I offer unconditional regard.


I teach how thinking may be recognized for its role in suffering…and in recovering balance.


I teach surrender, letting go, forgiveness of all that is wearying and no longer serves our holy purpose.


I teach ways of being and relationship that promote long-term benefit in a sustainable world.


I teach the truth of accountability.


I offer reflection on wisdom traditions that are timelessly relevant to the human predicament.


I teach the importance of experience… and learning from experience.



March 8, 2017


Check out this new resource from Skylight Paths Publishing:  Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership. The book is a collection of essays written by North American women; I am looking forward to reading them.  



March 16, 2017


I am encouraged by the work of Karen Armstrong.  Check out the Charter for Compassion website.  For those of you motivated to learn more about effective community organizing (on a large or small scale) there are many helpful tools here.  The questions designed to facilitate assessment of individual and community needs are thought-provoking and focused. You also have the option of signing the charter, making a donation to support their work, and/or reading a number of blogs.  The empahsis is on learning and serving.



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