“This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.”
Writing can welcome and navigate these arrivals.
The best book for any one of us on healing may well be the one that we end up writing ourselves. One Year of Writing and Healing is offered here as a guide and companion for this process. It used to be a website. Now, it’s in the process...
No book has moved me more in recent years than the book, Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book offers an extended, powerful and clear argument for investing in girls and women around the world. In the nineteenth century,...
Last month I had the good fortune to get an invitation from Anne Hallward, a psychiatrist in Portland, Maine, who hosts a weekly show called Safe Space Radio. She was doing a series on writing and healing and invited me to participate in a...
In the fall of 2010, for one week, I made a point of tracking searches to One Year of Writing and Healing and recording some of these. During this particular week in early November, a little over 200 people visited the site. Someone in Hanoi...
The best book for any one of us on healing may well be the one that we end up writing ourselves. One Year of Writing and Healing is offered here as a guide and companion for this process. It used to be a website. Now, it’s in the process of becoming a book. (To be honest, it’s always kind of wanted to be a book, and now I’m giving in to its wishes.) My hope is that as a book it can become both deeper and more coherent, offering an experience of reading and writing and healing that might complement what is already available at the original website.
I’m inviting your feedback and collaboration as it makes this transformation. The plan right now is to feature one chapter each month or so as a pdf file here at this new site, beginning in September of 2011. You are invited to download and read the pdf, and then, if you feel so moved, email me your feedback. What are your impressions of the chapter? What works well? What places in the chapter seemed like good jumping off places for your own writing? And, also, what got in your way? What didn’t work well? What suggestions do you have that might make the book work better?
My hope is that this process will keep me on track to complete the transformation over the next year. When the manuscript is finished the plan is to self-publish the book, using Lulu or CreateSpace (or both), and make the book available for purchase, with all net profits from sales in its first year going to support education. I’m looking now at organizations which might become the recipient of net profits. One is the Afghan Institute of Learning, founded by Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, which works to improve the health and education of Afghan women and children. Another is CamFed, which supports education of girls in Africa. I’ll also be looking at and learning about others.
Sound like something you’d like to be a part of?
The first chapter, “Creating a Healing Place,” is now available for download at CHAPTERS. If you’d like to be on an email list to receive notification when a new chapter is posted, please contact me here and simply place “monthly updates” in the subject line or body of the message. Alternatively, you can subscribe to the site in a reader.
I welcome your questions and comments—on the pdfs as well as the new site. No amount of feedback is too small. I welcome it all and will do my best to make good use of it. Thanks!
No book has moved me more in recent years than the book, Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The book offers an extended, powerful and clear argument for investing in girls and women around the world.
In the nineteenth century, the central moral challenge was slavery. In the twentieth century, it was the battle against totalitarianism. We believe that in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality around the world.
The first half of the book outlines the moral challenge. The problem of child prostitution and slavery. The problem of violence against women. The problem of maternal mortality. Much of the second half of the book highlights strategies that have been successful in empowering women in the face of such problems—notably education, public health strategies and microfinance.
The authors are not timid in their intentions. As early as the introduction they announce:
We hope to recruit you to join an incipient movement to emancipate women and fight global poverty by unlocking women’s power as economic catalysts. That is the process under way—not a drama of victimization but of empowerment, the kind that transforms bubbly teenage girls from brothel slaves into successful businesswomen. This is a story of transformation. It is change that is already taking place . . .
I consider myself recruited. Maybe it’s because of the emphasis on education. Maybe it’s because of this synergy of health care and education in freeing women from such daunting problems. Maybe it’s because as a teacher I find myself wanting to incorporate some of this work into my sophomore world literature course in the coming year.
One of the things I especially like about this book is the way Kristof and WuDunn highlight individuals and organizations around the world who are making a difference. Sakeena Yacoobi, an Afghan woman who runs the Afghan Institute of Learning. Ann Cotton, a Welsh woman who runs the Campaign for Female Education (Camfed). And Meena Hasina, an Indian Muslim woman, kidnapped and sold to a brothel as a young girl, now working in Forbesgunge, India as a community organizer, promoting education for daughters as well as sons.
Recently, I’ve come to think of these individuals and groups as an extension of a healing corridor that I imagined a few years back. I want to find ways to build connections to that healing corridor here. Thus, along with donating any profits from the first year’s sales of my book to one of these organizations, I also plan to highlight one such individual or group each month here at this site during its first year. For the month of September, I’m highlighting Sakeena Yacoobi at the Afghan Institute for Learning. You can read about her at my blog here.
In the fall of 2010, for one week, I made a point of tracking searches to One Year of Writing and Healing and recording some of these. During this particular week in early November, a little over 200 people visited the site. Someone in Hanoi got there by searching for the Yeats’s poem, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree.” Someone in Pine Lake, Georgia arrived via “healing poetry.” A person in Bombay searched for the story “Grief” by Anton Chekhov. Someone from Tyler, Texas searched at 2AM for “writing grief.” And someone in Perth, Australia reached the site by one of its more popular searches and a poem I’ve come to appreciate more and more as the years go by—the poem, “The Guest House,” by Rumi. Here are the first twelve lines:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
I’ve come to love Rumi’s poem because of the way in which it offers company. A person might think in the middle of the night that they’re alone with sorrow, or with some other unexpected and difficult visitor, but the simplest of searches could bring any one of us to the poets, many of whom have been there long before us.
Rumi, a Persian poet, wrote in the thirteenth century. I can’t imagine him having written this poem without some deep and long familiarity with difficult emotions. And then that breakthrough. Emotions as guests? The possibility of extending true hospitality toward them?
And how wonderful that a guest might arrive with such a useful broom.
Looking for more company from healing poetry? Me too. I’ll gradually be adding poems, including found poems and excerpts, along with a few thoughts about such to my blog.
You can find them here at Healing Poetry.
You may especially enjoy this video: Last Night As I Lay Sleeping