Little Blogs 2

It might be because I am now 72, but it seems to me that the world as I knew it is crumbling away day by day. The current election campaign has heightened the speed of the crumbling, it seems to me - as the various political players desperately tie themselves in knots of speeches and visits and arguments - and nowhere do I hear a consistent concern for those who need it most. The Millenials take center stage, while those over sixty who have paid in their life's blood for their future are now fighting for its service.

In the midst of it all, the only "stillpoint" is to hold it all equally and invite the emergence. We are in a moment of high transformation, and holding the opposites in tension is what allows it to emerge.

As for me, connecting each day with the forest, the river, the stars - each and every plant and tree I encounter - all of which brings me again and again out of my pull towards the "news" is my anchor and the place of belonging. Even a few moments of it a day will do.

I have just returned from nearly three days of complete solitude and silence in a small hermitage at Loretto Maryholme Retreat Centre on the shore of Lake Simcoe, ON. I found the autumn months so emotionally and time-demanding that the silent solitude drew me like a strong magnet, a necessity as strong as food in the face of hunger.

From the first moment I brought in my things - clothes, food, books - from the car, I felt as if the air itself took a deep breath, and I expanded into it. I slept ten hours each night. I watched the coming darkness. I walked in snow among trees shining with icy coatings and lengthening sun.

After the first few hours of relief, I felt the predictable contractions - the "must do's, should do's, what do I need to get done while here, " etc. They approached like masked bandits. I stopped and acknowledged them, recognized them. And did not obey them, at least not most of the time. It was a very strange feeling, yet - I saw - a healthy one. And one that I must continue to practice while at home - that is my great blessing, my turning point moment in these days away.

The Real Mirror

           A few weeks ago I went into a Staples store in Huntsville looking for a refill for a treasured pen, a pen that was presented to me, engraved with my name, when I graduated with my Ph.D. in Transformative learning about fifteen years ago. Just fifteen.

          After looking at a wall of pens with only a couple of briefer rows of refills and not finding the one sought, I went to the counter and asked the attendant, an older man like myself, only to be told "well, refills for pens are dying out now. Why buy a refill when you can get a whole new pen for cheaper than a refill would cost?" So I showed him the pen and why it is a treasure of mine, and he responded "Oh, I really get that, alright, but I don't have a choice about any of this. You will just have to put it in a souvenir box if you want to keep it."

          I have thought of this encounter many many times. It has become something of a symbol for me of our throwaway world, of our continuing unconciousness and refusal to see what is happening, of our daily and deliberate trashing of our only home. It makes me think of something written by Carl Jung in 1959:

          "A great change of our psychological attitude in imminent: the only real danger that exists is man himself. He is the great danger and we are pitifully unaware of it. We are the origin of all coming evil."

          In these times, just following the news, it is very easy to see the truth of Jung's words; in fact, this particular quote has taken on for me the deep truth of a prophecy in our time, and its unfolding has only recently begun to show itself visibly.

          It was during this startling realization that I came upon an echoing quote, this time by Melvin Konner in his book "The Tangled Wing." He tells the anecdote of a man going to one of the largest zoos in the world, attracted by the number, variety and size of the animals. Just inside the gate, he sees a very large sign in thick black letters saying "The Most Dangerous Animal on Earth," and he rushes over to look at what might be written beneath it, in smaller letters. Instead, standing beneath the sign, he finds himself looking into a mirror.

          These and other experiences remind me starkly that we are moving from one world into another now. Perhaps mainly those of us in our seventies, with the long view of how things used to be, can even begin to fathom the depth and extent of the changes that even now tug at our ankles. I feel myself shifted as the Jewish people were shifted, not of their own choice, in their long journeys throughout centuries, or like Brendan the Navigator, who set out for unknown lands across the sea, with no guide or compass.

          And all because I went into a Staples store in Huntsville, looking for a pen refill!


I just came across a copy of the "intentional vows" I wrote on New Year's Eve, 2016 and still intend/deepen in 2018. Here I offer to anyone who might welcome a wording of intention in her/his own life at this time:


Intentional Vows, 2017 –




During the past few weeks I have again become aware of the vows I made as a young woman, hardly re-visited, taken for granted. During the past week I have delved into what those vows mean to me now, how they “translate” into my lived reality forty-seven years later. I credit my colleague and friend Diarmuid O’Murchu for his most recent writing on the vows, from which much this expression arises.




Poverty has become for me now a vow of Mutual Sustainability and whatever contributes to it. I make more conscious choices with a sense of the Whole of creation. I practice a contemplative sense of vigilance; I endeavor to unclutter my own life on all levels, not just materially; I study and speak to the forces that exploit and brutalize creation’s resources. I practice living every day in the realization that all around me is gift, and that I am here because of the interdependence within the web of life. Mutual Sustainability translates into Gratitude.




Chastity has become for me now a vow of Relatedness, a vow to Love. This vow moves me towards an intentional engagement with the “foundational eroticism” which is the basis of all emerging life. It is the “creative, divine eroticism in the whole of creation: my body – and all bodies - are Temples of Relatedness: the physical world (cosmos) includes the whole of the Earth, Animals, Humans – and is the Source from which all things arise into being and fall away in its own time.




Obedience has become for me a vow of Mutual Collaboration. Purposefully engaging in practicing silence, solitude, prayer, heart resonance and heart presence, inner emptying and receptivity, study, reflection, speaking and writing, I also invite others of similar searching and values to enter into regular contemplative conversations.  Our intention is to shed the residues that still ensnare us in the wake of centuries of Church and State conditioning that no longer serves the world of today.


From this Contemplative Heart Engagement I commit to a renewed vowed life of inner and exterior speech and action, searching out and collaborating with others of resonant visions, with searching, willing and open hearts, for intensifying Good in our world.


(Through the Mercy of God and Catherine McAuley, in the Circle of Mercy…)




On January 1, 2017, I affirm and invite others to affirm these values and to enter into dialogue with any who wish to cultivate their heart’s longing and their heart’s willingness to closely inquire into self, relationship, communities, and the world itself, fully embracing the paradoxical nature and vision of these vows.




Some visible practices might be:


♥   Embracing gratitude


♥   Keeping promises


♥   Living truthfully


♥   Practising inconvenient hospitality


♥   Interrupting treasured schedules


♥   Deliberately and knowingly stepping past old habits of thinking/doing




Brenda Peddigrew, 31 December 2016




“If all one can do is sit alone


and intend concentration – and fail –


then…the patterns of exchange with friends


will bring that which is needed:


the temenos, the sanctuary,


the protected place of the Mercy.”


(Helen Luke, in Stuff as Dreams are Made of)


I have been thinking about writing here for weeks. I feel my inner life shifting, changing, deepening, and it is not at all accurately describable. Perhaps it is the shifting energy from head to heart. Although I have been practising this for nearly ten years, it is only now that I experience inner changes in values and choices, and it is disorienting at times. Yet - I wouldn't change this journey for any reward.

Being 71 is also a factor. I feel my inner world shake sometimes, like an earthquake, and shoots of insight quickly rushing by like a fast river, before I can catch them. Time is no longer unlimited, and perhaps it is all the richer for that. Time is concentrating itself into richer, clearer choices.

And nature - that rich orchestra of change and presence - intensifies in its manifestations!

Stay tuned for when words arise again!

Latest comments

23.11 | 19:20

Hi Marilyn...can you share your writing when there's a chance? Love to read some!

04.01 | 19:04

Thanks, Andie...that's it exactly ! So glad you experienced it!

04.01 | 18:36

'Whatever you need
and wherever you go next -
will come to you'
My holiday experience.

28.12 | 15:12

Hi Brenda,
I've just finished reading The Choice - got it from the public library. What an amazing story and an unbeatable spirit. I'll check out youtube now