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Showing posts from February, 2011


I worked as a therapist specializing in the treatment of survivors of trauma--mainly poor women--for about twenty years.  And I am seven years into a career of similar length, working as a high school English teacher in a small and chronically underfunded high school in the foothills of the Berkshires. Both of these careers, and my life in religion, evince a certain level of idealism.  I won't bother to recite the ways that each career has involved hard work and, at times, a degree of selflessness and certainly empathy, because I think most people know that, and I'm not really interested in glamorizing a choice to "make a difference."  These are the jobs I have felt led to do in the world, and it is a nice thing that they do seem to have been lines of work that have some direct impact on making people's lives a bit better, at least some of the time. What I think is less obvious is the way that, like all meaningful work in the world, they involve an awful lot o

Peter on Tending Both Wells

Cat has been involved lately with a spiritual accountability group through our Quaker meeting. The idea is that small groups of Friends meet and talk on a regular basis to help each other stay fresh and focused in their spiritual lives. It got me wondering, what would “spiritual accountability” (or “spiritual faithfulness” to use a term I like better) mean in a Pagan context? I have no desire to be part of a spiritual accountability group in a Quaker context. I think I do a pretty good job of holding and living out my Quaker values. I listen for God. I look for the integrity in other people. I hold myself low down to the Truth. I stay rooted in experience. I participate fully and deeply in corporate discernment. And I know when I need to lay things down to simplify my life, and one of the first things I would lay down, if I had one, would be a spiritual accountability group. But I am not as good a Pagan as I am a Quaker. Spiritual faithfulness as a Pagan would mean… Rememberi

A Ministry of Brokenness

A few weeks ago, a Friend in my meeting approached me, and in the gentlest and tenderest way possible, suggested that some of what I had spoken in meeting for worship was less Spirit-led ministry and more a need to seek and receive support for personal burdens. * I am still holding this Friend's concern close to me.  For those who don't already know: messages in a Quaker meeting are, at least in theory, prompted not by our personal lives, however keenly felt, nor by our own thoughts and ideas, but by Spirit.  Friends describe a variety of discernment tools for gauging which promptings are rooted in Spirit, and which are not, and, having attended a few "meetings for good ideas," I can say with no question that I prefer meeting for worship. It is a painful thought, that I might have spoken from any root but a leading of Spirit.  I am trying to respond neither with defensiveness and a hasty denial that I might do such thing, nor a wash of shame and an immediate accep

Deepening Into Impurity: The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

Lots of plastic waste since our last report--though the majority of it was old and will be recyclable.  Still, in only two weeks, we added 2 lbs 5 oz of plastic to the waste stream. Some of that is a result of deepening into impurity.  And that, I think, is actually a good thing. Most religions have a set of teachings on ritual purity.  The notion that something is impure automatically sets it apart from what is considered to be right and good in many cases.  And I'm aware that one trend, in environmental books and blogging, is toward pure and extreme forms of personal change.  Colin Beavan attempts to become, not, "Less Impact Man" but " No Impact Man ."  Beth Terry attempts to live a life entirely free from plastic.  Novella Carpenter attempts to feed herself entirely from the food she grows herself, in her urban garden. There is something in the American psyche that likes extremes.  We want to see, not energy conservation , but living entirely off the grid,

A Pagan Is One Who

A Pagan is one who, when you ask him what he holds most sacred, pauses a moment for thought.   And then he answers, and when he answers, it is with a list. It will be a long list. Photo by Lin Kristensen

For This Year's Brighid Poetry Festival

Let the candles flame Soft against the cutting cold Ice and mounting snow. For the fire wakes Soon, and leaps into the sky. Ice will melt; sap, flow. Today, sleet whispers But deep within the branch and root of Life lurks spring.