In 1997 four other women and I formed an organization we called The Matrix. Our purpose was to discover, define, and address what is valuable in the lives of women. Having experienced many benefits from engaging in personal rituals, it was important to me to find concrete and memorable ways to express our hopes and desires for the Matrix — for example, to devise meaningful programs, to relate honestly, to work in harmony with one another, and to help women create connections with their own deep wells of wisdom — and so I created rituals for each meeting as well as the events we produced.
Here’s a spiritual truth I’ve learned through personal experience. Without self-knowledge, all the offerings of organized religion — group worship, teachings, scriptures, retreats, sacraments, guidance from helpful religious professionals — and all the correct beliefs, good intentions and divine interventions we can experience are not enough to transform us into spiritually mature beings.
Today we’re on our way back to the mountains for a cooler, kinder summer. Our car is filled with various essentials, (my clothes mostly!), and carries an equally stuffed “pod” on the roof. But this year the back seat is not occupied by Bear, my best golden retriever friend who snoozed there on our annual treks for many years, or by the hanging rod with my clothes, but, for the first time, by our two granddaughters.
In 1904 a 21 year-old man named Antonio Raffa stepped off the boat onto Ellis Island with a small bag of belongings, $9.00 in his pocket, and hope for a better life. His first act was to kneel and kiss the ground. As he told us years later, there was nothing for him in his small hill town near Messina, Sicily where his only choices were to be poor or join the Mafia.
A few weeks ago I dreamed my husband was critical of me for wanting to leave a social situation. I felt wounded and angry, and when I asked him why he was being so mean, he held up a mirror to me and I was embarrassed to see a silly-looking woman wearing outdated black-rimmed cat’s eye glasses and a goofy black hat with fluffy puffs of tulle over each ear.
Until I was about 47 my spirituality was guided by the God of Christianity. But somehow this was never quite enough. I thought religion was supposed to have all the answers to the mysteries of life and fully satisfy my every yearning, yet I was haunted by a spiritual hunger I could not satisfy. Then I discovered Jungian psychology and sparks began to fly.
Last June I wrote two posts about the symbolism of bears. Now I’d like to tell you how my interest in bears came about. Twenty-two years ago I decided to forgo college teaching and follow my passion to write only of things that held meaning for me.