Rev. Catharine Is Currently On Medical Leave

Rev. Catharine Is Currently
On Medical Leave

Rev. Catharine Is Currently
On Medical Leave

Permission and Practice

Permission and Practice


***February 2016 — classes below are no longer offered***

Since my last post, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback. It has reminded me a little bit of the huge response I got from the Fat Reflections post of some time ago. That earlier post. The Fat Reflections post got a lot of play because not enough people talk about the experience of being fat and fit, or fat and trying to be fit, or fat and not dieting. There’s so much there to talk about, and I should write about it more, for sure.

This most recent post, though, the one on authenticity has received a different kind of response. I keep getting people private messaging me on Facebook, or asking if they can. I’ve been getting emails through my website. One woman thanked me, said she’d read my post repeatedly, “until I get brave.”

I have a sign on my mantle, written in Sharpie marker that says, “Walking on eggshells doesn’t help! Be brave!” Audre Lorde, warrior lesbian poet of power, reminded us “Your silence will not protect you.” And she’s right. I’m so aware right now how right she was and is, beyond the grave.


hatching tortoise
tortoise not chick, but such a great photo!

If our silence will not protect us, why do we insist on it? Why do we insist on living in tiny little boxes, little eggs we could crack out of. I once wrote a poem, right around the time I was leaving the convent, that said at the end, or a bird in an egg, “She has no idea what it is like to take wing / or to see the earth from the sky. / She has damp feathers, / one tooth, / and the inescapable knowledge that her world has become too small for her.” We live in worlds too small for us all the time, so many of us.

In my last post, I used the words, “handcuffs” and “cockring” to describe my style twenty years ago. Some people wrote, friends wrote, and said they were surprised at how self-disclosing I was. I felt afraid, rereading the piece. I felt all kinds of worries. But then the notes came, and I remembered why I wrote it.

So what makes us brave? What made me able to write a piece that described a way of being I want to partly reclaim? What allowed me to describe myself in that black leather jacket with those overtly “deviant” accessories?

It is, as it ever is, practice.

For me, it has been the practice of writing every day, and writing a lot. Writing a memoir, writing in my journal,
writing, writing, writing. My office and altar space are in transition, open journal book with red leafso some of my usual practice spaces are I betwixt and between, but for me, writing has taken a helpful place.

That is mine.

What is yours?

What practice helps you be yourself, the self that is without artifice and is yet yourself as you hope to be? The self that is, the self that was, the self you aspire to?

Right now, I am thinking of sacred reading. Of reading the work of people I admire, whether their words are considered “holy” or not. I am reading Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert’s book on creativity at the moment, and it is being sacred reading for me. It is written in small chunks—pieces to reflect on, pieces to write about.

There are so many ways to access our authentic, deep, wise selves. So many.

This March, I will be offering some ways to access those Selves. Here is the blurb from the Church of the Larger Fellowship, with whom I am offering the first month of support class:

Support for the Spirit

If you are anything like me, spiritual practice is an area of my life that is more often than not an untended garden, or at least fairly low on my priority list. I also know how rewarding it can be to nurture myself in a deep way. Support for the Spirit is just what it sounds like-a month of support for your spiritual practice. The month will be punctuated by four classes, but this is more of a short term digital community to support your spiritual practice and discover new ones. In addition to classes, you’ll be part of a closed Facebook group as well as have access to the facilitator for support and wisdom along the way. Sessions begin March 3


If you took or were interested in the class I offered in January, and are longing for deep, varied spiritual practice, also watch this space for the month of support starting in LATE MARCH. I will be promoting it here and on Facebook and have a registration page up next week.

I’ll also be offering an online retreat, “In Search of Balance” on Monday, March 21st, for the Vernal Equinox. More information about that, too, will appear here and on Facebook.

My point, you see, in offering all these things, is to bring all of us into greater love, courage, passion, authenticity, and integrity. All of us into brave authenticity. To be introverts and care for ourselves after being with people. Being able to let our yes be yes and our no be no. To be extroverts and do what we need to do to get some people time. Being able to let our yes be yes and our no be no.

My point is to help, to be one small voice that encourages bravery that leads to authenticity. When we are ourselves, however much we feel like Outrageous Impostors, we give other people the freedom to be themselves. When we shine as brightly as we were made to do—so brightly! —we give other people permission to shine. You are a light, dear friend. Please don’t hide. Please, please, don’t hide. I’m trying not to. Will you join me?

sign reading, "Walking on eggshells doesn't help. Be brave"

4 Responses

  1. Catharine, thanks for this reminder about the importance of being authentic. I keep a journal that I write every evening, where I’m free to be completely myself. I’m also held by a wonderful women’s support group. It’s so important to have these anchors before going public with our full selves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.