MCCASLIN, Susan




Author Tags: Poetry

Susan McCaslin of Fort Langley is Faculty Emeritus of Douglas College in New Westminster where she taught English and Creative Writing for twenty-three years.

A prolific poet, her books include Demeter Goes Skydiving (University of Alberta Press, 2011), which received the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award in Alberta in 2012 and was shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and The Disarmed Heart (The St. Thomas Poetry Series, 2014) featuring poems on the roots of violence and of peace making. "I wish to thank my husband Mark Haddock, who inspired me to unite contemplation anad action in our joint, successful effort to help save an endangered rainforest (now the Thomas Blaauw Ecological Research Area) near our rural home in Langley, British Columbia. Without the example of his environmental activism for thirty-five years, I might not have leaped into the fray." She also acknowledges the support of her memoir group: Kate Braid, Joy Kogawa, Heidi Greco, Elsie K. Neufeld and Marlene Schiwy.

In 2011, McCaslin published a book of essays prefaced by short poems entitled Arousing the Spirit (Wood Lake Publishing). She has edited two poetry anthologies on the relation between poetry and spirituality, A Matter of Spirit (Ekstasis Editions, 1998), and Poetry and Spiritual Peace: Selections from Contemporary Canadian Poets (The St. Thomas Poetry Series, 2002), as well as written numerous essays and a children’s book.

She initiated the Han Shan Poetry Project to help protect an endangered rainforest along the Fraser River.

In 2014, Susan McCaslin released Into the Mystic: My Years with Olga, described as a spiritual memoir in poetic prose. It focuses on McCaslin's spiritual mentor, Olga Park (1891-1985), who self-published several titles about direct mystical experiences "grounded in and moving out from the Christian tradition with which she was most familiar." McCaslin's text provides much of Park's life story, mixed with her own, through a series of vignettes and poems written by the author and by Park. It includes illustrations of Park's spiritually-inspired artistic creations and it "explores the relation of the female spiritual seeker to her wisdom teacher, guru, and spiritual mentor, and addresses timeless questions about the relation of time to eternity, the nature and emergence of consciousness, direct mystical experience etc. in a contemporary Canadian context."

Inspired by a journey she made to Aix-en-Provence in 2013, Susan McCaslin's suite of poems about the life and work of the post-impressionist painter Paul Cezanne, Painter, Poet, Mountain (Quattro 2016), praises and celebrates the artist with contemplative and playful short poems that also illuminate her life in Fort Langley where the transcendental qualities of his paintings illuminate her own poetic zeal. "The day is coming when a single carrot freshly observed will set off a revolution," he remarked.

ARRIVAL IN CANADA: 1969

ARRIVAL IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: same

ANCESTRAL BACKGROUND: Scottish and Irish

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Painter, Poet, Mountain (Quattro 2016) $18 978-1-988254-22-7
Into the Mystic: My Years with Olga (Inanna 2014) 978-177133-188-3 $24.95
The Disarmed Heart (The St. Thomas Poetry Series, 2014)
Arousing the Spirit (Wood Lake 2011)
Demeter Goes Skydiving (The University of Alberta Press 2011) 978-0-88864-551-7 $19.95
Lifting the Stone (Seraphim Editions 2007)
A Plot of Light (Oolichan Books 2004)
At the Mercy Seat (Ronsdale Press 2003)
Common Longing: The Teresa Poems and A Canticle for Mary and Martha (Mellen Poetry Press 2002)
The Altering Eye (Borealis Press 2000)
Into the Open (Golden Eagle Press [self-published] 1999)
Oracular Heart (The Hawthorne Poetry Series, Reference West 1999)
Letters to William Blake (Mother Tongue Press 1997)
Veil-Unveil (The Saint Thomas Poetry Series 1997)
Light Housekeeping (Ekstsis Editions 1997)
Locutions (Ekstasis Edition 1995)
Conversing with Paradise (Golden Eagle Press [self-published] 1986)
The Visions of the Seven Sleepers (The Iona Press 1979)
Kindling (Arion Press [self-published] 1979)
Motions of the Hearts (Arion Press [self-published] 1978)
Pleroma (Arion Press [self-published] 1976)
Perfection is Dynamic (Being Publications 1974)

AWARDS:

Mother Tongue Poetry Contest, *1st place* 1997

First prize winner, Burnaby Writers’ Society 2005 Poetry Competition.

Grand prize winner for Presence magazine's {USA] 2006 poetry contest.

First place in the 18th Annual Literary Writes Poetry Competition, Federation of BC Writers, 2006.

[BCBW 2016] "Poetry"

Arousing the Spirit
Press Release (2011)



Saint Catherine of Siena's skull was the size of a three-year-olds when she died at the age of 33. She had starved herself throughout her life in order to live up to her perfectionist ideals. Girls and women (and some men) continue to do this today, although their idea of a perfection may be somewhat different than what Catherine had in mind.

Perfectionism causes much anxiety in our culture: we feel we are not good enough, so we skip meals in order to be thinner; work longer hours to be better at our job; we train excessively in the gym, so that our bodies will be buff; and so on. We are burdened with a sense of always missing the mark. As a result, we can't relax. There's always something more to do in order to achieve perfection.

In Chapter One of her new book, Arousing the Spirit, Susan McCaslin looks at our culture's myth of perfectionism and offers a provocative, alternative perspective. Embrace the imperfect, she says, and bring joy to what you do, however you do it.

In other chapters, McCaslin, best-known as an award-winning poet, writes about fear and unconditional openness, mystical awareness, transforming our shadow-selves, and the beatitudes as Jesus really meant them to be heard. She engages the Jewish interpretive tradition of midrash to reveal Revelation, and divests Jesus of his sappy Hollywood persona.

Real and relevant, Arousing the Spirit highlights the Spirit's activating powers in a way that will appeal to anyone interested in spirituality (be they religious, Christian or otherwise).


McCaslin Sounds Off on Teacher Bashing
Essay (2014)



Supportive of province-wide strike actions taken by the BC Teachers Federation, Susan McCaslin took umbrage with a Vancouver Sun column by Shelley Fralic in 2014 during contract negotiations between the BC Teachers Federation and the B.C. government of Premier Christy Clark. "To my mind," wrote McCaslin, "the deepest reason for animosity against teachers is fear: the government’s fear of citizens who possess critical thinking skills."

Here is her opinion piece that first appeared on the Wood Lake Publishing site.

--

Some serious teacher bashing is going on in British Columbia right now. Shelly Fralic, a journalist for the Vancouver Sun, recently exploited her personal issue of teachers parking their vehicles on a public street in front of her house as a means of arousing hatred against teachers for their “sense of entitlement.”¹ Teachers, she suggested, are lazy buggers who work from 8 till 3 and then get the summers off. Her piece was perfectly timed to arouse animosity, coming out just after the BC Liberal government had threatened that if teachers proceeded with their intended job action, the government would retaliate by cutting, not increasing, their pay.

First, I must come clean as a retired educator who taught at a local college in B.C. for 23 years, and before that as instructor, sessional lecturer, and teaching assistant. I began teaching in 1969 but knew I wanted to be a teacher when I was in grade 8. Teaching has been for me not just a job, but a vocation (a true calling) and a passion. So I am not simply a bystander, but still believe I can be objective based on my long experience within the teaching profession.

My sense is that most educators are idealistic folks who received encouragement from a teacher at some time in their lives and wish to encourage and support youth in return, or, for some other reason, care about children and young people and wish to nurture and support them in their formative years. Though there are a few wastrels in any system (legal, government, business), the majority of teachers of my acquaintance are rather diligent and conscientious, people who entered the profession, not so much for its respectability or potential financial remuneration, but for the opportunity to help young people evolve into mature, civic-minded, fully human, integrated individuals. After all, one can go into law, medicine, accounting, business, and have prospects of a much higher income and more respectability than in teaching.

Unfortunately, here in BC, and in many other places in the world, public education is underfunded and undervalued. In B.C., teachers and local government are currently heading into a collision of apparent irreconcilables.

Clearly, our public education system is in crisis. Due to burgeoning class sizes, an increasing numbers of “special needs” students, the elimination of teachers’ aides, and lack of classroom resources, teachers are stressed to the maximum. Some of them are leaving the profession because they can’t cope with the pressure. Marking and preparation, extracurricular activities, class room management issues, and administrative responsibilities conjoin to take a toll.

The B.C. Liberal government’s position is that the need to balance the budget precludes the provision of classroom resources, smaller student to teacher ratios, and a raise in pay for teachers. Repeatedly, when teachers have demanded better working conditions, the government has legislated them back to work. Refusing to negotiate, the government continues to generously fund corporate interests. One has to wonder if the B.C. government wishes to allow the public education system to become dysfunctional in order to privatize education completely.

The question that recurs is “why?” Why such an adamant stance against teachers, students, parents, and anyone who desires a decent public education system for our children? Why such obvious distain of teachers? One would think such disrespect might be grounded in negative experiences with teachers in high school. Or perhaps the public has ingested the stereotypic depictions of teachers in the media.

And there is another reason for a lack of sympathy for teachers: a lingering, media-fed, irrational fear and hatred of unions. Yet without some kind of collective bargaining clout, how can teachers have any power at all to put forward not only their needs, but those of their students?

To my mind, the deepest reason for animosity against teachers is fear: the government’s fear of citizens who possess critical thinking skills. Historically, when right-wing dictatorial governments rise to power, the first to be targeted are poets, writers, activists, and educators. This is because, traditionally, educators and artists include those who have the long view, those who are not motivated simply by pragmatism and greed. Educators in the arts, sciences, and social sciences have a legacy of examining the human condition in a larger context, asking about its meaning and purpose beyond that of immediate gain.

“Something there is” (said Robert Frost in his poem “Mending Wall”) that doesn’t want the masses asking questions. “Something there is” that wants to turn out cookie-cutter consumers who will support the corporate status quo.

In my case, and that of many others, teachers helped us think and feel for ourselves. My grade 12 civics teacher helped me realize I could someday make the world a better place when he encouraged me to write on the United Nations and efforts toward world peace. A history professor showed me history wasn’t just about memorizing facts, but about asking what we can learn from the past. An English teacher in grade 7 taught me not just to memorize a poem, but to participate in the poetic mode of being, to be creative.

Now that I’m retired, this capacity to enter the creative process enriches my life as a writer. Without the encouragement and support of memorable mentors and educators while in school, I might be in a materialist’s void. Because of one particular teacher who told me I was a writer when I was 12, I am a full-time poet and writer. Because of a professor in grad school who introduced me to the power of myth in contemporary poetry, I am recreating myself through language and offering my gift to others. I am not just a consumer, a bored retiree, but fulfilled. Teachers proffered me the opportunity to truly be and to live more holistically.

Isn’t this what we want for ourselves and our children, as well as to earn a living and meet the necessities of daily life? Critical thinkers aren’t just passive victims of social patterns and corporate powers, but movers, shakers, activists – exactly what some governments most fear.

¹ http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Shelley+Fralic+Teachers+cult+entitlement/9847666/story.html

Writing about mysticism & religion
Essay (2014)



What’s So Scary about Words Like “Religion,” “Spirituality” and “Mysticism”?:

Reflections on Writing my Memoir, Into the Mystic: My Years with Olga (Inanna Publications, 2014)

by Susan McCaslin

The word “religion” can generate more hostility than the other words embedded in the title of this piece, and perhaps rightly so. People mistrustful of religion examine history and notice how many of the major religions have been and continue to be tied to empire-building, rigid belief systems, gender inequalities, corporate capitalism, wars, and the exploitation of the “have nots.” Some contemporary writers, however, such as Karen Armstrong, a former nun, point out that many of the world religions have also given the world deep experiential wisdom based on empathy, love, and compassion. Armstrong, having written incisively on Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism (and others), argues that religion contains both violent and peace-making streams, but is not necessarily responsible for all the world’s ills.
The word “spirituality” for many is a softer, gentler, more inclusive term than “religion,” less indicative of fundamentalism and rigid belief systems. Yet it too remains problematic for many, and rightly so. For years I have placed myself, and continue to do so, among those who indicate they are “spiritual but not religious.” The etymology of the word “religion” is “to tie again.” So what kind of binding or tying might the word suggest? For many it has meant being bound to the creeds and beliefs and moral teachings of the institutions, but for some, like the poet Dante, it meant being tied (interconnected) through love to the larger movements of “the sun and the other stars.” Certainly the founders of many religions were human beings who lived and taught out of a sense of relationship with something larger and more inclusive than the movements of ego.
There are valid reasons why people may be averse even to softer words like “spirituality” and “mysticism.” For one, they can be vague. They have meant so many things to so many people as to have become almost meaningless. The archetypal image of being on a “spiritual journey,” has devolved to something of a cliché through overuse. Such words can also offer refuge for that which seems irrational, “flakey,” or “woo woo.” They may suggest life orientations opposed to reason and common sense. One thing we have gained from the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, whatever its limits, is a mistrust of obscure, abstract, over-generalized language that makes claims to states that are private and perhaps essentially incoherent, or that the person entering them refuses to ever question or reinterpret.
Clearly some forms of what passes for mysticism have been a refuge for egotism, elitism, cultishness, imbalance, dogmatism, and even madness. Because my mother suffered from schizophrenia, I was initially skeptical of visions and anything smacking of the paranormal. Mom had heard frightening voices that made her act in self-destructive ways, and I didn’t want to hear them or get caught up in them.
Then, in 1969 at the age of twenty-two, I met Olga Park, an elderly woman from Port Moody, British Columbia, who became my spiritual mentor for sixteen years. Olga had had extraordinary visions since early childhood, but kept them to herself until later in life. She was firmly grounded in everyday reality, not at all crazy, but one who had matured through these unitive experiences, becoming more integrated, loving, and wise. So I came to trust her, her voice, and the balance of reason, emotion, soul, and spirit she embodied. Her presence somehow woke me up, gave me access to my own deeper self as it connected to the larger world. Through her, I came to explore my inner experiences within a safe but flexible (ever expanding) containment.
Yet I found myself up against questions of language when trying to write about my relationship with Olga and her legacy in my life after her death in 1985. In the process of composing my spiritual autobiography, Into the Mystic: My Years with Olga (Inanna, 2014), I felt compelled to provide some provisional definitions of terms for readers who might pick up the book, bringing to it their own preconceptions, fears, and even negative experiences of both religion and spirituality. It seemed significant to me that the word “mystic” comes out of the mystery religions of ancient Greece, meaning both “an initiate,” and “to close the eyes or lips,” as when one looks deeply into the very ground of being beyond all dualities.
Olga self-identified as a Christian mystic, but she stood well outside orthodox, institutional Christianity. Although raised Wesleyan Methodist in the Yorkshire dales of England, she was attracted to the liturgy and music of the Anglican Church, then to Spiritualism and esoteric Christianity, ending up a hermit-contemplative living at the margins of society in Port Moody, British Columbia, completely outside the churches of her day. Through Olga I learned that a mystic isn’t a quietist, one who retreats to a purely subjective reality, but one who temporarily withdraws from the outer world (of materialism, getting and spending etc.) from time to time in order to become grounded in a non-dual reality. There in the silences beyond words and concepts, the divisions between inner and outer, self and non-self, are recognized as false constructs. Often such people return to the world to serve, carrying that deep presence of silence within them; so contemplation and action become two halves of a whole. But for the genuine mystic, contemplation, meditation, or some kind of dedicated spiritual practice is essential and can become the base of activism. Great ones like St. Teresa of Avila, Hildegard of Bingen, and (in modern times) Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. spring to mind.
The mystical, contemplative streams in most religions have more commonalities than differences. They open the door to respectful conversations among the various faiths. I’m not just speaking of what has been called “interfaith dialogue” but genuine communion, direct engagement, shared experience coming out of our human condition as fellow creatures on the planet, needing to live in harmony with other species and life forms. What interests me are principles not of competition, but of cooperation, how we are interrelated within nature, the larger ecological systems, and to Gaia the planet. Since my teens I have been fascinated with global spiritualties because of their capacity to awaken our potential to evolve, to come into balance with realities that transcend individual differences.
From this perspective, I can agree with agnostics (un-knowers: those who keep open to possibilities beyond linear reason) and a-theists (those who, for whatever reasons, cannot embrace a traditional anthropomorphized God). Since entering university after high school, I haven’t been able to believe in a strictly masculine God sitting at the top of a hierarchy outside the process of daily embodied experience, enthroned above it all manipulating things like a puppeteer. However, through what has been called “process theology,” I have come to see other formulations of what some call God, Allah, the I Am, the One, the Goddess, Divine Feminine Wisdom or Sophia, Prana, the Tao etc. as unnameable presences and powers of love and expansiveness (both transcendent and transpersonal) working within the whole.
However we name (or are unable to name) these powers and presences alive in us and in all things is less consequential than our individual and collective experience of them. And here is where the term mysticism is helpful, for it is generally acknowledged as the stream hidden within religion that addresses direct experiential knowing. Within Islam there is the mystic stream of Sufism. Within Christianity, there are the mystics within and without the churches whose experiences sometimes put them on a collision course with institutional religion. I honour William Blake (poet, visual artist, and mystic), who drew from radical Protestant mystical traditions, like those of Jacob Boehme and Immanuel Swedenborg, but remained outside the Church of England of his day.
Sometimes I imagine conversations where someone asks, “Are you a Christian? What’s your spiritual orientation? I reply: “Well, tell me what you mean by ‘a Christian’ and I might be able to give you some kind of a response.” More often I find myself saying, “I’m an inter-spiritual person, a seeker, finder, a flawed work-in-progress who, as a poet fascinated with language, also recognizes its limits. With Rumi I would like to add:
Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu,
Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion

or cultural system….

I belong to the beloved, having seen the two
worlds as one…
(Rumi, “Only Breath,” trans. Coleman Barks)

===

This piece was first published as a blog on Inanna Publication’s website. http://www.inanna.ca/



Writing about mysticism & religion
Essay (2014)



Because her mother suffered from schizophrenia, Susan McCaslin was initially skeptical of visions and anything smacking of the paranormal. "Mom had heard frightening voices that made her act in self-destructive ways," she says, "and I didn’t want to hear them or get caught up in them.'

Then, in 1969, at the age of twenty-two, Susan McCaslin met Olga Park, an elderly woman in Port Moody. For the next sixteen years Olga Park, a self-defined Christian mystic, became her spiritual mentor. McCaslin has now written Into the Mystic: My Years with Olga (Inanna, 2014).

Along the way, Susan McCaslin has had to overcome her skeptical mistrust of the words religion, spirituality and mysticism.

--
Accepting religion, spirituality and mysticism as viable terms

by Susan McCaslin

Olga Park had extraordinary visions since early childhood, but kept them to herself until later in life. She was firmly grounded in everyday reality, not at all crazy, but one who had matured through these unitive experiences, becoming more integrated, loving, and wise. So I came to trust her, her voice, and the balance of reason, emotion, soul, and spirit she embodied.

Olga Park's presence somehow woke me up, gave me access to my own deeper self as it connected to the larger world. Through her, I came to explore my inner experiences within a safe but flexible (ever expanding) containment. Yet I found myself up against questions of language when trying to write about my relationship with Olga and her legacy in my life after her death in 1985.

In the process of composing my spiritual autobiography, Into the Mystic: My Years with Olga (Inanna, 2014), I felt compelled to provide some provisional definitions of terms for readers who might pick up the book, bringing to it their own preconceptions, fears, and even negative experiences of both religion and spirituality.

--

The word “religion” can generate more hostility than the other words embedded in the title of this piece, and perhaps rightly so. People mistrustful of religion examine history and notice how many of the major religions have been and continue to be tied to empire-building, rigid belief systems, gender inequalities, corporate capitalism, wars, and the exploitation of the “have nots.”

Some contemporary writers, however, such as Karen Armstrong, a former nun, point out that many of the world religions have also given the world deep experiential wisdom based on empathy, love, and compassion. Armstrong, having written incisively on Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism (and others), argues that religion contains both violent and peace-making streams, but is not necessarily responsible for all the world’s ills.

The word “spirituality” for many is a softer, gentler, more inclusive term than “religion,” less indicative of fundamentalism and rigid belief systems. Yet it, too, remains problematic for many, and rightly so. For years I have placed myself, and continue to do so, among those who indicate they are “spiritual but not religious.” The etymology of the word “religion” is “to tie again.” So what kind of binding or tying might the word suggest? For many it has meant being bound to the creeds and beliefs and moral teachings of the institutions, but for some, like the poet Dante, it meant being tied (interconnected) through love to the larger movements of “the sun and the other stars.” Certainly the founders of many religions were human beings who lived and taught out of a sense of relationship with something larger and more inclusive than the movements of ego.

There are valid reasons why people may be averse even to softer words like “spirituality” and “mysticism.” For one, they can be vague. They have meant so many things to so many people as to have become almost meaningless. The archetypal image of being on a “spiritual journey,” has devolved to something of a cliché through overuse. Such words can also offer refuge for that which seems irrational, “flakey,” or “woo woo.” They may suggest life orientations opposed to reason and common sense. One thing we have gained from the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, whatever its limits, is a mistrust of obscure, abstract, over-generalized language that makes claims to states that are private and perhaps essentially incoherent, or that the person entering them refuses to ever question or reinterpret.
Clearly some forms of what passes for mysticism have been a refuge for egotism, elitism, cultishness, imbalance, dogmatism, and even madness.

--

Olga Park self-identified as a Christian mystic. The word “mystic” comes out of the mystery religions of ancient Greece, meaning both “an initiate,” and “to close the eyes or lips,” as when one looks deeply into the very ground of being beyond all dualities. But Olga Park remained well outside orthodox, institutional Christianity.

Although raised Wesleyan Methodist in the Yorkshire dales of England, she was attracted to the liturgy and music of the Anglican Church, then to Spiritualism and esoteric Christianity, ending up a hermit-contemplative living at the margins of society in Port Moody, British Columbia, completely outside the churches of her day.

Through Olga I learned that a mystic isn’t a quietist, one who retreats to a purely subjective reality, but one who temporarily withdraws from the outer world (of materialism, getting and spending etc.) from time to time in order to become grounded in a non-dual reality. There in the silences beyond words and concepts, the divisions between inner and outer, between self and non-self, are recognized as false constructs.

Often such people return to the world to serve, carrying that deep presence of silence within them; so contemplation and action become two halves of a whole. But for the genuine mystic, contemplation, meditation, or some kind of dedicated spiritual practice is essential and can become the base of activism. Great ones like St. Teresa of Avila, Hildegard of Bingen, and (in modern times) Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. spring to mind.

The mystical, contemplative streams in most religions have more commonalities than differences. They open the door to respectful conversations among the various faiths. I’m not just speaking of what has been called “interfaith dialogue” but genuine communion, direct engagement, shared experience coming out of our human condition as fellow creatures on the planet, needing to live in harmony with other species and life forms.

What interests me are principles not of competition, but of cooperation, how we are interrelated within nature, the larger ecological systems, and to Gaia the planet. Since my teens I have been fascinated with global spiritualties because of their capacity to awaken our potential to evolve, to come into balance with realities that transcend individual differences. From this perspective, I can agree with agnostics (un-knowers: those who keep open to possibilities beyond linear reason) and a-theists (those who, for whatever reasons, cannot embrace a traditional anthropomorphized God).

Since entering university after high school, I haven’t been able to believe in a strictly masculine God sitting at the top of a hierarchy outside the process of daily embodied experience, enthroned above it all manipulating things like a puppeteer. However, through what has been called “process theology,” I have come to see other formulations of what some call God, Allah, the I Am, the One, the Goddess, Divine Feminine Wisdom or Sophia, Prana, the Tao etc. as unnameable presences and powers of love and expansiveness (both immanent and transcendent) working within the whole.

However we name (or are unable to name) these powers and presences alive in us and in all things is less consequential than our individual and collective experience of them. And here is where the term mysticism is helpful, for it is generally acknowledged as the stream hidden within religion that addresses direct experiential knowing.

Within Islam there is the mystic stream of Sufism. Within Christianity, there are the mystics within and without the churches whose experiences sometimes put them on a collision course with institutional religion. I honour William Blake (poet, visual artist, and mystic), who drew from radical Protestant mystical traditions, like those of Jacob Boehme and Immanuel Swedenborg, but remained outside the Church of England of his day.

Sometimes I imagine conversations where someone asks, “Are you a Christian? What’s your spiritual orientation? I reply: “Well, tell me what you mean by ‘a Christian’ and I might be able to give you some kind of a response.” More often I find myself saying, “I’m an inter-spiritual person, a seeker, finder, a flawed work-in-progress who, as a poet fascinated with language, also recognizes its limits.

With Rumi I would like to add:

Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu,
Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion

or cultural system….

I belong to the beloved, having seen the two
worlds as one…

(Rumi, “Only Breath,” trans. Coleman Barks)

===

Susan McCaslin's reflections on writing her memoir, Into the Mystic: My Years with Olga (Inanna Publications, 2014), were originally published as a blog on Inanna Publication’s website. http://www.inanna.ca/