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Full Circle at the Solstice

This is a blog post I recently wrote for Mary's Pence, a non-profit dedicated to funding grassroots women's work for justice throughout the Americas.

Writing about marking time and connecting to the sacred in the midst of the turning wheel of the year was made all the more poignant for me, because many years ago I ran this organization. Writing this piece was for me was a homecoming, one of those full-circle moments in time.

I hope that this reflection on our shared task in weaving a new collective story speaks to you as we approach the Winter Solstice, the darkest of days, the day most suited for the incubation of new life.


“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” –Annie Dillard

As the hours of sunlight dwindle and the year 2013 draws to an end, I find that I must complete the chores on our small farm before 4:30pm, when a darkened landscape obscures my path home. There are metal fence posts here and there, holes our dog Sirius has dug in search of moles lurking in unknown locations, and slippery surfaces to navigate on damp Oregon evenings between the field where the chickens roost and the cheery warmth of home.

Participating in the liturgy of nature by scooping chicken feed in the rain, in the heat of summer, in the dark cold of winter evenings, helps me to mark the passage of time in a way that I find to be strangely fulfilling, even holy. I need to be immersed in rituals, steeped in habitual life-giving patterns of thought and action, so that Sacred Presence can walk through the gray cell walls of my busy, distracted mind, and surprise me with gifts of a deeply-felt sense of connection and wholeness.

Some methods of keeping time work better than others for helping us to experience each day as a priceless gift, a thread with which we can continue weaving the unique creation of a lifetime. The Mary’s Pence Calendar of Women, not wholly unlike feeding a flock of chickens, provides us with a simple, yet profound way of remembering the holiness of this particular day in the turning wheel of the year.

By connecting the slender thread of our own lives to the lives of the women celebrated in this calendar, we can grow in awareness of our ongoing, connected efforts to weave a beautiful new story for our troubled world — a herstory. The Calendar of Women is a daily remembrance and celebration of the compassionate herstory that has often silently, but powerfully, run counter to the dominant history of poverty, violence, and injustice.

Theresa Maxis Duchemin. Rana Husseini. Fannie Lou Hamer. Annie Sullivan. Marjory Stoneman Douglas. These women’s names and stories grace the days of the months to come. And with each new month, another inspiring Mary’s Pence grantee is featured.

As you walk through the year with the women of this calendar, think also of the other people reflecting on this same calendar with you, some perhaps known, most unknown. The threads and patterns of the herstory we are weaving together will slowly become visible as we walk the spiral path through the year, 2014.

And as the circles of light and love expand, remember also those who make the world a more loving, fragrant, life-filled place, those whose names are certainly unknown to history, those whose importance in helping to craft a new world is often unknown even to themselves.

Recall also generations past who labored that we might stand on firm ground and draw breath today, and the generations yet to come, who are relying on us to weave a herstory with the stuff of our lives so that they might have fertile ground to stand upon and clean air to breathe.

Remember all of these, both named and unnamed in this Calendar of Women for 2014. And as you make your way home this year, through dark and cold, may your path be lighted and your heart warmed by this cloud of witnesses who labor to weave a world of beauty with you, for you, and because of you.

Here’s a link to order your free Mary’s Pence Calendar of Women for 2014: On this page is also a downloadable .pdf with the biographies of the women named in the calendar.