songs from the choir of paradox #3

I have genuinely come to love the experience - and the spirituality - of each of our four seasons. This wasn't always true, but I can confess with confidence that I have learned to cherish them all. In New England, we are in the heart of summer where heat will spike and soar in a whithering way for a few days only to disappear a few days later bringing a reprieve of thunder storms, days with stunning sunshine and gentle breezes. Our garden is flourishing: pumpkins, herbs and cucumbers are hard at work maturing and our tomatoes just began to bear fruit. As I cut the front lawn and attacked this week's crop of weeds, I felt like I was in a walking prayer of gratitude. Later, we walked Lucie through the woods and the late afternoon sun basking in the glory of creation.

I have continued to think about what Parker Palmer and Carrie Newcomer wrote recently: When someone like Howard Thurman encourages people like ourselves — people of privilege, even power — to look to “the growing edge” for hope, we’d do well to listen, rather than giving in to a self-indulgent fatalism or cynicism.

So we’ll ask you the same question we ask ourselves: What’s the growing edge of your life? Some find it inwardly, as they reach for a deeper sense of meaning and purpose. Some find it with other people, at an edge where a relationship needs to begin, change, or end. Some find it in their work, as they look for ways to bring their gifts into deeper alignment with their souls’ imperatives and the world’s needs. Others find their growing edge in joining the struggle for justice in a broken world. The growing edge is rich with the promise of new life. But in our experience, moving toward it is often as slow as the growth of a plant, so the process requires patient tending. We seem to go through three stages before we can begin to see and have confidence in the flowering.


Yesterday I suggested that as a straight, white bourgeois man, listening to the experience and insights of people of color has been crucial for my calling. Today let me push that deeper and suggest that wisdom, challenge and clues for living with compassion have come to me through listening and trusting the witness of women, too. Walking through the woods, I started my list of names of the women who have opened my mind, heart and soul. There are teachers, artists, lovers, friends, family and colleagues in this list (that will always be incomplete.)
As I sat with these names after a wee nap,remembering these women and how they have been blessings to me, I experienced another type of prayer: sacred remembrance. You might want to make your own list. Or another list of those who have touched and brought you a measure of healing. 

This list is not ranked in any hierarchical way - with the exception of the first name - Martha. More than any other woman, she opened my being to the wisdom and experience of contemporary feminism - and I have never been the same. I am so very, very grateful...

Martha Baker, Dianne De Mott, Germaine Greer, Virginia Wolf, Lucinda Williams, Kathleen Norris, Gloria Stienhem, Angela Davis, Phyllis Trible, Katie Canon, Kathy Arzt, Jesse Piscitello, Michal Lumsden, Donna Minich, Donna Mescall. Deanne Langworthy, Stephanie Paulsell, Diana Butler Bass, Dorothy C. Bass, Linda Worster, Patti Smith, Alice Walker, Marie Howe, Mary Oliver, Margaret Atwood, Mary Karr, Terre and Maggie Roche, Gertrude Mueller-Nelson, Marilynne Robinson, Annie Dillard, Maggie Durran, Betty Pulkingham, Joy Mead, Henrietta Keleman, Elizabeth Hay, Roberta Flack, Grace Slick, Joni Mitchell, Joan Armatrading, Aretha Franklyn, Joan Baez, Linda Ronstadt, Maria Muldaur, Carole King, Carol Comstock, Pam McAllister, Barbara Cohen, Debby Anderson, Jane Swartzback, Dolores Brown, Irene Lefferts, Kristie Greene, Barbara Barkley, Carrie Newcomer, Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson, Susan Sontag, Harper Lee, Barbara Kingsolver, Amy Winehouse, Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, Sarah MacLachlan, Buffy Ste. Marie, Jane Sieberry, Sally Rogers, Eva Cassidy, Sarah Coakley, Susan Thistlethwaite, Linda Schloss, Dolores Huerta, Cynthia Bourgault, Sandy Denny, Odetta, Janis Ian, Madonna, Sinead O'Connor, Elizabeth Cotten, Hazel Dickens, Mimi Farina, Kate Wolf, Laura Nyro...

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