Monday, February 8, 2016

Dependable Truths

The Mystery within
"The Art of Hearing Heartbeats" by Jan-Philipp Sendker is a novel my book club is currently reading about a grown daughter, Julia, who goes in search of her father who mysteriously left family and country after her graduation from law school.  She questions:

What do we know about our parents, and what do they know about us?  And if we don't even know the individuals who have accompanied us since birth—we not them and they not us—then what do we know about anyone at all?  …on which truths can one ultimately depend?"   

Two dependable truths came to mind for me.  First, I really cannot judge another or say what they should be or do.  And second, I need to be true to myself.  Writing "God Never Hurries" was a gradual unfolding and pulling together of freeing truths for me.

The following is some of my dependable learning from "God Never Hurries:"

"Being in the present moment, however, is only half the test.  Becoming friendly with the present moment, or accepting it, is the more challenging half."

"I sat there with a great discomfort and began to understand the real test for me was to sit with my was also my deepest learning."

"The right questions began to surface from my pain.  My relief was in my pain; my safety was in my questions."

"I found much grace in my trouble."

 "I saw the complicity of my silence in all the past abuse."

"It was as if the sweet seductive voice of God whispered, Be not afraid."

"The more difficult life became, the deeper grew my experience of a caring Presence in the Natural world to whom I belonged.  I came to see God everywhere—and even where God wasn't—in the abuse."

"Bearing accusations of betrayal and seeing my mother hurt was an enormous price to pay to be true to my own soul."

"To hope means to struggle.  …It can't hurt to have hope but it can hurt not to."

"Justice will be kind.  It will be done over a period of time."

"All that lives is holy, holds truth and mystery for me that I will strive to realize for the rest of my life."

What if we could always trust our troubles to reveal the slow work of God?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Heart Thinking and Breaking

The Mystery within...
I was surprised when I learned thinking occurs in our physical heart as well as our brain.  Initially I thought heart thinking would be the goal since I imagined it would soften the ego and our response to others.  But then I remembered Parker Palmer's On-Being reflection, "An Invitation to Heartbreak and the Call of the Loon" where he says there at least two ways for the heart to break:  "…it can break open into new life, or break apart into shards of sharper and more widespread pain." So that makes heart thinking and breaking, like everything else, a both/and thing. 

News features this past week broke my heart.  First it was of a grandmother that took a walk in the woods with her two-year-old grandson and became separated from him.  Days later the child was found dead.  My heart broke again on hearing of the death of three children in a house fire when the eleven-year-old sister successfully got one young sibling out but died trying to save two who remained in the house.

The last five lines in Mary Oliver's poem "Lead" read:

"I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world."

Hearts broken open must be the positive force behind human progress.

What if we all were willing to let heartbreak break us open to the rest of the world?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Spiritual Consciousness

The Mystery within...

Spiritual consciousness is not easy to define, achieve or maintain but I know I experienced an awakening to a Divine presence in my everyday life. Paradoxically, grief and struggle spawned comfort and affirmation, much of it coming in the natural world.  Feelings of desperation led me to look for and find answers in everyday experiences.  It was the hard work of accepting my pain and disillusionment, learning to be true to myself, and trusting good would come of it that made all of life more clear.  I came to know everything is a both and thing, and its all about forgiveness.

From "God Never Hurries":

"Silence is a both and thing.  It is golden when I curb my ego and silently accept another's shortcomings in the name of kindness.  It is a gift when it leads me to reflect on the messages in my life.  But silence also feeds abuse, and as Anne LaMont writes in Bird by Bird, '…we are only as sick as our secrets."

* * *
"I helped my mother bathe.  I felt my touch asking for her forgiveness.  I saw it in her eyes.  My heart wanted to stay.  My head said, 'Go'; my back said 'Hurry; my soul said 'Leave.'  Things were not meant to change then.  There is a line in Diane Ackerman's book "Deep Play", '…there are truths that can only be learned when you're dancing in chains.'
* * *
"Forgiveness benefits were many and were said to come from the head and the heart and resulted in emotional control.  It was said true forgiveness is not trivial for it transforms who we are.  Freedom and a more real view of life are its fruits.  Forgiveness is also giving up resentment and coming to view the perpetrator with compassion.  Who wouldn't want all that, I thought?"

* * *
"The week had unfolded with everything falling into place for a new infrastructure.  But the next evening when I pulled into my garage, my muscles were again tight.  My mother had been very lucid when I left and her words were clear.  She asked if she could come home with me and spoke of no family care.  But I left her there in the care of strangers and just let pain be pain."

* * *
"In God's valley a gentle shower of fine snow crystals fell from a high cedar bough.  When I lifted my maturing face to them, I felt a gentle blessing."

What if we all knew spiritual consciousness in everyday experiences?        

Monday, January 18, 2016

Conscious Women and Men

The Mystery within...   

I know my consciousness came through darkness and struggle with abuse that I suspect is at the heart of all consciousness.  My first need was for courage.  I list ingredients for courage in "God Never Hurries:"

"Courage Recipe:

Accept my fear.

Trust my mind, heart and gut.

Trust God.

Trust others and learn from their reactions." 

Also from my memoir:  "Early the next morning, while my parents were still asleep, I read an article in a publication called Radical Grace.  A 68-year-old grandmother wrote it to her granddaughter on her graduation in hopes that she could help her choose life.  She wrote of unholy martyrdom, diseased concepts of sin, masochistic obedience, and the need to always search for truth.  Her words touched deeply."  And "…the following morning while they still slept I read another article in the same publication that spoke of women's compliance and the resulting destructive behaviors I know too well."

I recently listened to a video interview between Jungian Analyst Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen M.D. and Sue Monk Kidd, author of "The Dance of the Dissent Daughter."  In the video Kidd tells of a controversy resulting from a presentation she gave in a convent's space.  A ninety plus year old looking nun in authority called her in the office and questioned if the controversy was true.  Upon confirmation the nun replied, "It's high time people know that God is more than two men and a bird."  Which led me to ponder a recipe for abuse.

Abuse Recipe:

Claim masculine superiority.

Refuse to integrate feminine spirituality that honors the body and the earth.

Silence dissenting voices.

Create doctrine and dogma that obscures the sacredness of everyday life.

Claim infallibility.

What if we all questioned the heart of our spiritual conciousness?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Dissident Daughters

"The Mystery within...
Dear Sue Monk Kidd,

Thanks for writing "The Dance of the Dissident Daughter" and telling the tale of your experiences with sexism/patriarchy and subsequent spiritual growth.  It is a comfort to connect with another's awakening to discrimination—to one who has done the hard work to claim her worthiness--and found the courage to say, enough!  I too danced that dance, changed my place in the family, left the church of my birth, and experience new life in body, mind and spirit.

I am grateful to have the scary anger behind me but as you say it is necessary fuel to defy injustice and work toward constructive behavior and solutions, for then anger can be transformed "into an energy that serves compassion."  I had to first find compassion for myself before realizing it toward the other.  My dark struggle did eventually reveal my inmost self, my Feminine Wisdom, in whom I learned to trust. 

Reading that you too felt trapped, awkward, caged, complicit, experienced vivid dreams of birthing, encountered synchronicities pointing your way, and felt the pull of the natural world to which we all belong were joyful connections.  My big awakening was in the natural world where I was told to "Be not afraid."     

You summed up so succinctly where we all need to go from here in your following paragraph:

"The world needs a new ecological wisdom and the honoring of earth and body that the Divine Feminine implants.  It needs to embrace the consciousness of we, the image of the web, the interconnection and interrelatedness that are central to women's experience and that Sacred Feminine experience only deepens.  And finally, the world needs the vision and courage to dismantle hierarchies of power.  It needs to be faced with its injustices, to hear voices that speak for the voiceless and powerless.  It needs conscious women.  Conscious men too."

Thank you for the gift of your story.  Enclosed is the gift of mine.

In Gratitude, 

Marcia Kaminski

Enclosure:  "God Never Hurries"

What if we all became conscious women and men?



Monday, January 4, 2016


The Mystery within...
My Random House Dictionary of the English Language (copyrighted 1966) defines patriarchy as:  "1.  a form of social organization in which the father is the supreme authority in the family clan or tribe and descent is reckoned in the male line, with the children belonging to the father's clan or tribe.  2.  a society, community or country based on this social organization."

Now in 2016, I Goggled Merriam-Webster's definition of patriarchy: a family, group, or government controlled by a man or a group of men; a social system in which family members are related to each other through their fathers."

Patriarchy doesn't change but thank God we humans are capable of intellectual and spiritual progress. I know it is much more than just daughters that suffer from the patriarchal model; sons and the whole of society are also deprived of integrating the gifts both genders have to offer; integrated gifts that will form the foundation for freedom, justice and peace in the world.

In the mid 1990's I remember seeing for the first time the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in1948, that begins:

"Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world, …"

When I read that declaration, during the time patriarchy was coming to the forefront in my life, my first thought was I don't even have inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights in my family, or then church, where I was also active in justice and peace concerns.  But now it helps me understand why progress toward ending racism and homophobia is coming before ending sexism that is held onto through the patriarchal hierarchies of religion.   

Which brings to mind the late Jesuit priest/scientist and mystic Teilhard de Chardin who was silenced by the church.  Chardin saw man’s embrace of woman as consummating a union with the Universe, and in turn, growing to a world scale.  He believed that if each of us can believe that we are working so that the universe may be raised, " . . . then a new spring of energy will well forth..." and "The whole great human organism, overcoming a momentary hesitation, will draw its breath and press on with strength renewed.”

What if we all questioned our relationship with patriarchy and ask ourselves, "What can I do to promote freedom, justice and peace in the world?

Monday, December 28, 2015

Tree of Light

The Mystery within...
Before Christmas I stopped at the Care Center and brought a small nativity ornament made out of olive wood from a tree in Bethlehem to my wheelchair bound ninety plus year old friend, Ginny.  She truly loved the little ornament, which made me happy.  While I was there she wondered if the Christmas tree at her parish would now be decorated because she really would like to see it lit up and said she is planning to call a taxi to come and take her some morning to see it.  I called the church office and confirmed the tree was up and offered to come the next morning to take her to an 8:00 a.m. communion service.  She was as excited as a little child.   

There is much more than a Christmas tree that draws Ginny back to her home parish.  The house she reluctantly left is next door to the church and she wanted to see if the statue of St. Anne was still in the backyard.  We could see St. Anne standing watch over her house from a side door behind the altar; a door Ginny would open every morning to set up for the many different priests saying mass.      

Sitting at the communion service with her my thoughts went back to my relationship with my former parish--daily attendance at mass, a place where I once found solace from deep grief, and sometimes direction when I doubted my path.  But I was also keenly aware of the patriarchy that I left.  I heard it in the deacon's readings; saw it in the restricted altar; and felt freedom from it in my mind, heart and soul.  As the deacon exited I told him Ginny would like to see the Christmas tree lit and asked if he could make that happen.  He walked around the tree and then disappeared into the office.

We waited--walked around the tree, visited the manger, commented on models of the two prior church buildings that once served members now long gone, lit a candle to St. Anne and waited some more.  I then went into the office and started to tell a woman behind a desk, "I am on a mission to…" when my voice cracked and my eyes clouded with tears.  My emotion surprised me but eventually I got the rest of the sentence out, "…get the tree lights on for Ginny." I was told no one knows where the remote is to turn on the lights; they thought we left so they stopped looking for it.  I felt so let down, not just because Ginny wouldn't see the tree lit, but for all the abuse patriarchy had perpetrated in my life and the lives of countless others.

I walked back to the darkened vestibule where Ginny waited and told her I wasn't sure we would see the tree lit and I am going to go to the washroom.  I took my time, slowly and methodically washing my hands hoping she wouldn't be disappointed.  When I came out there she was aglow in a thousand tiny white lights glinting of the gold trimmings on the tree.  A teacher had found the remote for she wanted to bring her young students over to see the tree.

Though I have no doubt leaving church was the right decision for me, letting patriarchy be would not be good for the children. 

What if we all questioned our relationship with patriarchy and what we can do for the children?