By Katherine Martin
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Additional resources for Women of Spirit. Stories of Courage from the Women Who Lived Them
And “If there’s something else, what am I doing here on planet earth anyhow? What’s the point of this? ” People start to wonder, “Was my life a success? ” Forgiveness becomes critical, not only of yourself but of other people, to making peace. In a certain way, I became, de facto, a pastoral counselor. Being with those groups was a blessed part of my life. The other side of the story, however, was that I worked excessively and commuted an hour or two each way from the south shore into the center of the city.
And I’ve come to appreciate that no magic moment will suddenly rid me of fear. That it takes courage every day to get up and live. When people say to me, “Gee, Joan, you’re so peaceful to be around. I’d like to be like you,” I always say, “No you wouldn’t. My inner life is not one of total peace. ” I know now that I’ll never come to a moment of enlightenment in which the wisdom, the knowing, the love, the mercy, the compassion, are guaranteed to me. Maybe I’ll get a glimpse of it or have the grace of an experience of it .
But when push comes to shove, it’s a human tendency to pray, and those prayers are focused and deep. They gave me a definite sense that I could recover but that it would take an enormous act of will: I could never, ever do another one of those ritual behaviors, like reading upside down. And I knew, as surely as I knew my name, that if I ever did, I would stay stuck in that mental illness forever. As I prayed, a state of peace came over me, and a poem went through my head. In a funny way, it was a poem about courage.