Tuesday, July 31, 2018


The Mystery within...
What a great focus we had for reflection for this summer’s weekend Women Gathering retreat--the many different thresholds crossed in our life, and what new threshold currently awaits us.  Cathy Gawlik and Dawn Zak, from Way of the Willow again lightly and skillfully led an incomparable group of women seekers in helping one another grow through sharing our struggles, and understanding it is our troubles that grow us in grace and wisdom.  Prior to our gathering we were given a Jan L. Richardson quote to reflect on: “And there are times for leaving; times when the holy thing to do is shake the dust from our feet and leave behind a place that is not meant for us.”

To help each of us reflect on the past thresholds we have crossed we strung either multi-colored glass or wooden beads of varying sizes, shapes and colors on a cord. Each bead we chose was a symbol of a past significant threshold we had crossed. Reflecting on my past thresholds, within our sacred circle, I was overwhelmed at just how hard life has been sometimes.  Through our sharing we became intimate with our own and others’ past pain and present fears.  I had Pema Chodron’s book with me, “When Things Fall Apart—Heart Advice for Difficult Times” and shared this quote from her:  “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”  And each of us did just that in unique and unfathomable ways.  In the process of our sharing we were touched with sheer compassion for one another.

My fear of ridicule and getting dirty in a fight was exposed and brought into the light.  I am now making peace with my fear by simply speaking or writing my truth and then showering any ridicule or criticism I might receive with sheer compassion for my detractors’ fears.  I want to advocate for thinking with our hearts and not our wallets to help one another live free, productive and healthful lives on a vibrant, healthy planet.  So the nest I was given to decorate in the OT (Occupational Therapy) portion of our gathering represents our home, Mother Earth.  I put a small sprig of white flowers representing me, the grandmother, who has some hard won learning. The feathers, joined together by two butterflies, represents the transformation that will take place when our female and male energies become more integrated resulting in a more equitable, peaceful world.  And the nine multicolored flowers within the nest represents all of us on this planet, and our nine different Enneagram spirituality types, each with a unique strength to be shared and a corresponding weakness in need of sheer compassion.  Accepting our fears, and integrating our spiritual strengths as men and women, is what this grandmother wants for us all and our planet. 

Cathy Gawlik’s husband, David, thoughtfully put the five poems Dawn and Cathy used to create the outline for our weekend into a booklet for us.  Lines from each poem that especially spoke to me:  Being Here, to live fully, we must take the path and keep sweeping it.”  We look with uncertainty “…something new is being born in us if we but let it.”  A Blessing in the Dust,“…feel the full weight of your gifts…” Blessing the Threshold,  “…This blessing has been setting the table as it hums a tune from an old song it knows something about, a spiraling road and bread and grace.”  Breaking Surface “Let no one keep you from your journey, … no lover who measures their worth by what you might give up, no voice that tells you in the night it can’t be done.”

We closed our weekend together the way we began it by calling in our ancestors and inviting them to be with us for our healing as well as theirs.  We again asked the four directions for blessing and guidance and thanked the Great Spirit, known by many names, for bringing us together in sacred circle.  And then we carefully took our sense of fragile wholeness back out into the world and our next threshold crossing.   

What if we could all welcome the truth our threshold crossings have taught us and continue on with a sense of fragile wholeness?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Spirituality and Politics

The Mystery within...
“I’m spiritual but not religious” is a term I’m familiar and comfortable with, especially given America’s current political/religious climate.  So what would a spiritual/political climate look like, feel like and sound like in America?

First of all many Americans, myself included, would have a lot less stuff.  It would feel good because spirituality thrives when sharing our resources with others who have too little; and it feels good to thrive spiritually.  Corporations would work continuously to protect the environment and also proudly display their philanthropic efforts.  All workers would receive a just and living wage.  We would grow in respect for all of life.  Healthcare would be exceptional, universal, and affordable for all. Care of the born would be understood as a societal task with aid to families needing help and quality education available to all.  Abortions would become very rare.  We would be tolerant of people holding views different than our own and open to changes that demonstrate compassion versus blame and bigotry.  The arts and entertainment industry would deepen our understanding of what it means to be a spiritual people.  And we who profess liberty and justice for all would ask forgiveness from Native Americans and Blacks for our past colonial imperialism.  Politician’s voices would resonate from their hearts in support of the above.  This isn’t an impossible dream.  How America evolves really is in our own hearts, minds, voices, hands and ballots.     

I see great paradoxical promise in the scary political turmoil of our time that can give us all pause to reflect on our past, present and future.  Will the quest for more and more money enslave some of us while others languish in poverty?  Can the over consumption and destruction of our earth’s resources become an urgent understanding for a more reasoned and protective stance; or will we continue down a self-destructive path of no return?  Can we see it takes a healthy village to raise a healthy child to create a healthy future?  Can we replace judgment with compassion for others’ desperate acts?  Can we be open to being changed? True forgiveness of the other, and ourselves, heals relationships and is a never-ending need. The ability to love creativity is what spirituality is all about.  It exists in all of us.  Find and nurture it. In my heart, mind and soul I see no separation between spirituality and politics.

What if our scary political turmoil is designed to awaken us to a new era of forgiveness, empathy, compassion, love and generosity toward one another?