Holding Fast


We sat in a circle again, with women at risk of homelessness.  It was not easy to listen to the women that day. Sometimes all we can do is listen. And inwardly hold the women in a loving way.

One young woman, striving to free herself from a complex family, was telling about her losses. I was listening with all my attention. Her life was so difficult, so hard. But then an odd thing happened.  

As she began to talk about her life, with all of its sorrows and pain, a bird flew towards the window. I couldn’t see the actual bird, only its shadow through the screen. It was hopping on a branch, singing, hopping again. It touched me as so tender, so filled with love.

I kept being drawn to the bird. It flitted and hopped around, all the while the young woman was talking of her troubles. The sorrow of her life was somehow joined by the wonder of this bird.

Life is a miracle.  Even as we are in the darkest season, here was this bird of life.

I too, like this young woman, have experienced what seems outwardly like an impossible situation. But there is always grace.

One night during such a time, I lost hope. Falling into despair, I cried out, in feeling but not in words, “Where is the face of the divine?” I must have fallen asleep, for I had a vision. It was of a wide circle of redwood trees. In the center there was a rope hanging down from above. 

With just a little push, I could swing on this rope. My heart felt free and began to sing again. The following day I found this saying from the Quran: Hold fast to the rope of God and do not divide yourself.

Years ago I had a dream in which I was told,  “Speak to women about God, or the Tao.” Back then, that was exactly what I did not want to do. 

But now I see the beauty of how a woman lives, witnesses, and honors the sacred in life. A woman is so close to life that when she can hold onto this rope, it infuses the core of her being with the strength of light and joy, helping all those around her.

And so I share this story of the woman and the bird, and the rope of God, in celebration of the world beginning to remember its sacred origin. And of the mystery of how deep in the heart of darkness, lie the seeds of joy.

Holding Fast
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10 years ago

I just returned from my sister’s memorial service in MT. When I was giving my tribute, drops of water fell on the page. I have had other “signs” of her presence since her passing. So heartening. Thank you for inspiring this sharing,

candace nagle
10 years ago

Hi Anne, I saw you from afar at the store the other day but it was too distant to make contact. Since then you have been on my mind and in my heart. So far and so close…another one of those paradoxes. I had a little experience yesterday…an answer to prayer. There is a scary thought I have at times that plagues me….it arises now and then and I always feel like I have to repress it and have no power over it. Yesterday I just said a prayer, asking Mary for a solution (why I hadn’t done so before…I don’t know!). Immediately my mind was filled with an image of Donald Duck situated in my crazy thought. The result was total humor and diffusion of the fear and darkness that surrounded this image. Later in the day my daughter was sharing about a conflict in her life and I remembered Donald. I suggested she invoke Donald Duck. And the sacred magic of Donald dispelled her dilemma. Then this morning I was reading about using humor to cope with emotional stress…It is all so connected. So this is my offering to you…Donald Duck…love, Candace

judith citrin
10 years ago

this is so beautiful anne…your sharing so generous. i trust that you and i will get together in may for a deep visit! with love, j