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  • Writer's pictureevansph2

I am a crier myself – meaning that I often find myself in tears in situations where others don’t. Odd things can bring me to tears – hearing people sing happy birthday, seeing kids in line to see Santa Claus. But, like others, I also cry at sad movies, at sappy Hallmark ads, beautiful sunsets over oceans, at weddings and over the lyrics of songs. When I saw a book at the used bookstore entitled. THE CRYING BOOK, I knew I had to have it. It is a collection of short vignettes about why we cry, where we cry, what tears are etc.

At two recent retreats the issue of tears came up. In the first one we began the retreat by going around the circle saying why we were there. One woman began speaking and then began to cry saying she didn’t know why she was crying. The retreat leader so kindly said that when we cry, we have taken off all our armor. It happens when we are safe. As he talked to the group about tears, he himself became tearful. Which opened up the armor we all were carrying but didn’t know it.

At another retreat when the subject of tears arose as we were singing, the leader said. “oh yes, tears are saltwater salutes to whatever is happening.”

There are beautiful small tear bottles that date back to ancient times – called “lachrymatory” – small glass vessels made to hold tears. They are often held in filigree of silver. I want to have a stash of those that I could give to my friends where they cry. You can apparently see them in Egyptian museums.

A Jungian analyst friend of mine told of a time when a woman was telling a story in therapy and her tears collected on her sweater. When she looked down, they had turned into diamonds. May that be so for all of us!!

Many blessings on your tears. May they be treasured, known as doorways into what is most important. And may you often find yourself in settings in which they are welcomed.

“When you were born, you cried

And the world rejoiced.

Live your life so that when you die,

The world cries and you rejoice.”


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  • Writer's pictureevansph2

I was attending our church “Journey to Wholeness” group (a gathering of white congregants dedicated to exploring our own racism). We watched a video clip of three people talking about receiving feedback or criticism about a racist comment or action. It was very informative. Some of the people in the video were white and some were people of color. I agreed with everything they said, BUT… (and here comes the problem!) I was completely judgmental about their make-up, their dress, their choice of colors, their nose rings, their hair color, tattoos, their “conflicting” gender presentations. I watched myself make all these judgments. I was spending time thinking about their appearance more than the content of what they had to say. So, I lifted this up to the group when the video clip was done. Most of them had the same reaction. Our facilitator, the minister, talked about himself having had a similar situation and he said probably the most important thing he had learned in all of his racism work was “It’s not my business.” Oh, yes! I can so relate to that and hope to be able to incorporate it into my interactions in the world. “It’s not my business”. How someone chooses to dress, to decorate themselves, etc.

Then this morning I was reading in a book (Real Change) by the Buddhist writer Sharon Salzberg. She writes “Clearly seeing our assumptions will deconstruct them”. That’s a relief! It’s one reason to meditate Salzberg says – to learn to see your assumptions rising and not to act on them. She goes on to say “We don’t have to judge ourselves for these thoughts and feelings because we realize it’s our involvement with them that’s the problem, not the fact that they arose to begin with.” That too is comforting… of course, I will have judgments that arise, that get in my way. But it’s not the judgments themselves that are the problem. The problem is that I begin to make other assumptions that lead me down a path I don’t want to be on…. A path where I assess, based on faulty information, whether a certain person deserves my attention or not. It’s an entitlement that I truly want to stop! It’s a journey – and a seemingly long one to train ourselves out of our tendency to judge people based on things that are “NOT OUR BUSINESS”!!!

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  • Writer's pictureevansph2

This week-end I went to a four day retreat at a Catholic retreat center near here. It was an extraordinary place in many respects. As we began the retreat, the leader (who was not from the center) asked Sr. Mary, “How are you going to get any of us to leave?” So, let me describe; You enter through a lovely arched door and the first room you pass is a bookstore. Need I say more? Then, you enter a beautiful cloister – an arched covered sidewalk that circles around a courtyard fountain and lovely plants. Tucked in here and there are little statues of buddha, a rabbit, a bird, etc. The sign reads; please observe silence here. There are tables and single chairs and rocking chairs. A small table holds a velvet bag of “heart stones” and you are invited to sit and hold the bag and take one out slowly and to use its message as something to carry with you throughout the day. The first day I drew “wellness”, the next day “forgiveness”, the next day “light” and on the final day as I went scurrying past, I too quickly grabbed a stone – which had the message “patience”!!!

Also in this cloister is a gorgeous book of nature photographs – one for each day – and the book lay open to the correct day – someone in the night, turns the page. There were other Christian symbols of course, a statue of Mary, and of St. Francis and there were crosses pretty much in every corner. There was a beautiful temple bell and a lovely windchime. But most of all what you heard was the constant birdsong echoed in this cloister.

But, on to the rooms. This was once a convent and so the rooms were extraordinarily simple. I remember sighing when I walked into mine. Plain white walls, a single bed, an armchair, a desk, a bedside table, a light at just the right angle over the bed, a window that opened onto a garden and a sink. I noted that there were no mirrors. What a simple way to live. Really all one needs. I am not one who adores simplicity usually, but this room struck me as perfect!

The rest of the grounds contained lovely walking paths, gardens, a small straw bale studio, lots and lots of blossoming plants and trees, tables and chairs in sun and shade.

Perhaps the best part of all was a studio in the basement to make art. There was every art supply you might imagine, hundreds of books about making all kinds of art. Lots and lots of art made by people who left it for others to see. The walls were painted with poems and quotes about art. In the entryway, suspended from the ceiling were dozens and dozens of origami cranes that gently blew as the air stirred. I spent every spare moment in this space – amusing myself and playing from my heart!

The retreat itself was a poetry writing retreat, led by the poet Kim Stafford. He is the son of poet William Stafford and his own poetry and other writings are truly beautiful and from the heart. The whole retreat was held in silence excerpt when we were actually in a session with Kim.

So, all of us wanted to move in! And as Kim mentioned, it was hard to get us to leave when the retreat was over. But what he sent us off with was the charge that each of us need to find our own Santa Sabina in our own daily life. I am going to try!

Finding An Inner Sanctuary

A place or a time

when your soul

can appear.

The welcome of flowers

or silence…

A small bell to ring,

something beautiful to see

or touch.

A place of comfort

and privacy,

of invitation to yourself.

Books of poetry

A cup of tea

A blank page

A good pen.

A sparsely serene setting

with one candle.

And, if this is not possible,

a tiny place

inside you

where your soul

can paint imaginary

scenes and you can

pray to be opened

to what

you deeply know.

~Penny Hackett-Evans

And here is a lovely poem by Kim Stafford for you;

For the Bird Singing Before Dawn

Some people presume to be hopeful when there is no evidence for hope, to be happy when there is no cause. Let me say now, I’m with them.

In deep darkness on a cold twig in a dangerous world, one first little fluff lets out a peep, a warble, a song—and in a little while, behold:

the first glimmer comes, then a glow filters through the misty trees, then the bold sun rises, then everyone starts bustling about.

And that first crazy optimist, can we forgive her for thinking, dawn by dawn, “Hey, I made that happen! And oh, life is so fine.”

~Kim Stafford

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