What does it mean to BE who we are in this lifetime? In this conversation, Pat talks about the book, “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig. In this book, the protagonist, discovers a library where “every book provides a chance to try another life” (see citation). Per Pat’s synopsis, we learn that oftentimes the protagonist finds herself disappointed and at other times satisfied with the lives she has “jumped in and out of” when visiting the different “books” in the library. Pat states, “We all have parts of our lives that we can look at as being different lives … and as we grow and learn and move on to the next section of our life, it’s like having a new life.” Pat then creates a “throughline” to another artist/writer named Maria Popova, who has a website titled, “The Marginalian.” Pat describes Maria’s process of connecting certain artists’ literary works to others’ works. Like a “trail of breadcrumbs”, Maria connects us, as readers, to thematic understandings that draw us to making deeper conclusions about ourselves through art, poetry, writing, and other forms of expression. From Maria’s work, Pat extends the “throughline” to Corita Kent, an artist, educator, and advocate for social justice. Like Popova, Kent connects ‘pieces’ together to create art assemblages, making meaning from seemingly unrelated materials or objects. Finally, the message is this: that we create who we are and become who we are from the amazing parts of our lives that shape and form our soul-driven identities.
Becoming (Beyond) Conversation on September 19, 2021
Who are we beyond our stories? And, what does this really mean? In this conversation, we explore who are are “at the brim of that which is beyond or known of our own lived stories.”
Who are we beyond our stories? And, what does this really mean? In this conversation, we explore who are are “at the brim of that which is beyond or known of our own lived stories.” We talk about “who we are between the cracks” invoking the practice of Kintsugi, a Japanese art form of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art. We also bring in Leonard Cohen’s Anthem in connection to his lyrics around the ways our “cracks” allow the light to enter.
In Part 2, Pat talks about a couple of experiences that helped her to “see the light that holds us together… and reminds us of who we are.” She discusses a class she took with a Brazilian healer who works with healing energy. In this healing session as Pat was receiving healing, she felt a deep sense of knowing who she was in connection with everyone and everything around her. She explains, ‘We were all one Being, but different expressions of it.” The second experience centers on an experience she had leading a soul collage class using guided visualization where she asked individuals to “breathe into the heart and keep breathing into the heart” to feel expansion and connection with everything around then. In engaging with this process, she felt a deep resonance with the Earth, Cosmos, and beyond. She also had the profound realization that our true Selves lie somewhere beyond the roles we play. Please join us to hear Pat’s full story.
In the third part of this session, Cristina ties her experiences of meeting two young men from Jalisco, Mexico to St. Teresa’s understanding of “travelers” – that is, we are all on a journey as human beings traveling through this world in need of certain elements to keep us warm, fed, clothed, sheltered, and happy.
Becoming (Surrender) – Conversation on Sunday, August 8, 2021
“As we think of the word ‘surrender’ … there are many ways we can understand and feel that word as we hear it in our bodies … and think about what that word has meant to us in our life and how maybe it has changed and evolved. And as we go on our journey today and as we (contemplate) this word ‘surrender’ we open ourselves to the possibilities of how that word can shape knowings and understandings that uplift and also bring us a sense of complete peace within.” (part of the opening meditation)
Becoming (Remember) was recorded on April 18, 2021. Lynn began the session by reading her poem, “Becoming Reach” which encapsulated the ideas, feelings, and energies of the previous session.
“The Birds Who Flew Beyond Time” by Anne Baring and read by Pat Berberich. Here is a summary of the book found online:
A modern retelling of the Sufi parable, “The Conference of the Birds,” a poem written in the thirteenth century by Farid ud-Din Attar. In this retelling, the birds of the Earth, led by the Hoopoe, respond to Her call for help and set out on a journey to find the Great Being over the edge of time. In the course of this journey they encounter and overcome the power of the seven invisible monsters who are threatening the life of the planet.
In this part of the session, Cristina talks briefly about Dr. Cynthia Dillard’s latest work, “The Spirit of Our Work: Black Women Teachers Remember.” She also discusses her positionality in relation to her ancestry.
Further, here is an online description of The Spirit of Our Work: Dr. Cynthia Dillard centers the spiritual lives of Black women educators and their students, arguing that spirituality has guided Black people throughout the diaspora. She demonstrates how Black women teachers and teacher educators can heal, resist and (re)member their identities in ways that are empowering for them and their students. Dillard emphasizes that any discussion of Black teachers’ lives and work cannot be limited to truncated identities as enslaved persons in the Americas.
To set the tone for “Becoming (Reach)” we used a quote from Michelle Obama who states: “For me becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”
Please enjoy the following materials that we used for dialogue during this session:
What is hope? Howard Thurman, one of Martin Luther King Jr.’s mentors, writes, “Hope is the remembrance of radiance, the assurance that Light will be Light, even when walking in dark places.” Martin Luther King Jr. tell us that, “Everything that is done in this world is done by hope.” Today’s conversation #8 focuses on the theme of hope.
Who are we? And, who do we want to ‘be’ and ‘become’ in this new year, 2021?
Becoming with an ellipse in parenthesis (…) indicates that each of us are to fill in the word that we are striving to “become” this year. On this note, Pat, Lynn, and Cristina center January 2021’s discussion around stories of being on the hero’s journey – in light and dark – and sharing stories that illuminate our path. Becoming (…) for each of us is different and ever-evolving, but we found that it is within and through story that we hold space for one other within the darkness. Darkness here is leveled, meaning that it does not depict just evil or fear. It can be nurturing like a seed that is planted and then gestates within the womb of Mother Earth before it cracks open to extend both its roots into the earth and its branches upward toward the sky. Part 1 begins with Lynn’s poetry titled, “Becoming (Blessing): The Divine Algorithm” where she interweaves the stories told by those who joined us in December 2020 for the last meeting. Cristina then talks about story by introducing Dr. Bertrice Barry’s work and as connected to a story about Representative Andy Kim of New Jersey who unceremoniously helped workers to pick up debris left in the Capitol Building on the infamous Insurrection Day: Wednesday, January 6, 2021.
In Part 2, Pat shares an accordion book she made that is inspired by the Lord of the Rings, specifically by the following quotation said by Sam Wise Gamgee to Frodo at a time of turbulence and peril:
Sam: It’s all wrong By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened. But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?
Sam : That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for. Subsequent conversations, not showed in this video, connects the Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 to the battle of light and dark in connection to the hero’s journey.
The conversation, Becoming (Blessing) occurred on December 13, 2020. Becoming (Blessing) centers our conversation as we enter into the final month of 2020, a year that has been delineated as Pre-COVID and COVID. A year in which, as Pat mentioned, “we are beckoned to step into the unknown of our own becoming.” Enter, Explore, Return, Listen – words from Pat’s cards we have shared in communion. Occupying this virtual space we become a blessing to each other.
Cristina began the conversation by reading a prayer of blessing from the Diné. The poem is called Walk in Beauty.
Walking in Beauty: Closing Prayer from the Navajo Way Blessing Ceremony In beauty I walk With beauty before me I walk With beauty behind me I walk With beauty above me I walk With beauty around me I walk It has become beauty again Hózhóogo naasháa dooShitsijí’ hózhóogo naasháa dooShikéédéé hózhóogo naasháa dooShideigi hózhóogo naasháa dooT’áá altso shinaagóó hózhóogo naasháa dooHózhó náhásdlíí’Hózhó náhásdlíí’Hózhó náhásdlíí’Hózhó náhásdlíí’ Today I will walk out, today everything negative will leave me I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body. I will have a light body, I will be happy forever, nothing will hinder me. I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me. I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me. I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful. In beauty all day long may I walk. Through the returning seasons, may I walk. On the trail marked with pollen may I walk. With dew about my feet, may I walk. With beauty before me may I walk. With beauty behind me may I walk. With beauty below me may I walk. With beauty above me may I walk. With beauty all around me may I walk. In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk. In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk. My words will be beautiful…
Linguistic Note: The word “Hozho” in Dine’ (roughly translated) Concept of Balance and Beauty. Consideration of the nature of the universe, the world, and man, and the nature of time and space, creation, growth, motion, order, control, and the life cycle includes all these other Navajo concepts expressed in terms quite impossible to translate into English. Some Navajos might prefer the term: “Nizhoni” meaning ‘just beauty.”
Written by Robert S. Drake, for Tom Holm, PhD, University of Arizona American Indian Graduate Studies Program, Native American Religions and Spirituality.
During the conversation, Lynn shared a poem she wrote that interwove the stories and sharing from all those attending the previous month titled, “Nepantla” (which refers to the space where differing or divergent realities can merge and make sense of the world in mutually beneficial ways).
Pat focused her conversation about “Blessing” by sharing the story told in the movie “Collateral Beauty” and integrating her own insights into the discussion. We need to look around, particularly within the darkest, deepest periods of grief and observe the collateral beauty around us.
In this month’s conversation centered on listening, we draw from Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen’s scholarship and storytelling. Dr. Remen is a professor at the Osher Center of Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She is also the author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings. For Dr. Remen listening is vital to the healing process: “The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is out attention… A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.”
Through her poetry, Lynn summarized the previous sessions’ conversations. Here is her poem and the image associated with her words: