You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘struggle’ tag.

Every day we open and close doors to our homes, our cars, places of work, institutions, family, and friends. Do we notice the variety of the doors: hinged, folding, sliding, rotating up and over, some with locks and some without? Does crossing their threshold alter our energy?

Such questions must have influenced the earliest reproductions of both the single and double doors depicted upon walls of Egyptian tombs in the Nile Valley. Here, the door symbolizes an area, closed off from the profane, similar to later ornamental doors found on mosques, monasteries, cathedrals, and temples, orienting the worshiper toward its mysteries within. Even the doors of home are sacred. The Archeological Museum in Naples displays a set of Roman folding doors from a first century AD estate in Pompeii that was ruined by Mount Vesuvius.

However, there is another door closer to home, the door to our hearts; its challenge is to become aware of it, then pause before opening it to who or whatever is attracting us. With instincts activated, discernment is critical. In the in-between space, questions surface: Are lesser motives obscuring their toxicity? Is neediness demanding to be satiated? Who will benefit? What will I learn if I act? Or give in? Perhaps “No” is the wisest response when clarity is an issue. Such practice deepens humility and opens the psyche to spiritual guidance, without which we stagnate.

Thus we thrive in our flawed humanness and bring our unique gifts to fruition among others—the purpose of our existence.



Soils engage spidery bulbs beneath wintry graves.

Hesitant blades pierce the mulch.

March rains dampen tentative greens like children forgetting their lines.

Weeks pass.

Spiked blades pattern gardens like players on chessboards.

Hard nubs stretch like infants flailing rubbery limbs.

Flickers of color balloon and soften the petals.

Tulips have returned.

We give thanks!




Killing winds seep through ill-fitting sashes of this prestigious boarding school for girls, the setting for Zoe Keithley’s novel, The Calling of Mother Adelli (2014). In an affluent suburb outside of Chicago, extensive woods surround this four-story brick building, topped by a white cupola and cross. Beneath its veneer of elegance, however, lurks multifaceted violence. It is 1945.

Into this setting comes ten-year old Helene, motherless, aware of the jail-like atmosphere the moment she and her alcoholic father set foot inside the well-appointed parlor to await her admittance into the school. He fluffs off her fears, silences her protests. Of more importance is his six-month lecture tour in Italy‘s finest hospitals. Even the school’s repressive rules do not deter him from leaving her with these semi-cloistered teaching nuns, one of whom is the young Mother Adelli. And promises of a Christmas reunion in Rome do not work.

Over the next two months, Helene’s total dislocation from everything meaningful plunges her into destructive rages against this unfeeling world. Hatred oozes from every pore. Especially abhorrent is the no touching rule. Intuiting her damaged psyche, Mother Adelli knowingly bends some of the rules to afford the girl some breathing space, at the same time igniting the superior’s reprimands. “We have our reputation to maintain,” she insists.

This page-turner is enhanced by the effective opening and resolution, the crisp images, the dialog heightening the drama, the angst within Helene and Mother Adelli, the slow motion scenes leaded with detail and feeling, the chilly autumn/winter keeping the story on edge, and leit-motifs of death and funerals.

What surfaces from this read is a closed world, dominated by patriarchal values. Its unwary captives comply with strictures that eviscerate woman-spirit and damage receptors to the Sacred. Without extensive help, such women can only pretend to live, juiced by elegant wines.

I know. I used to be one.




Available on Amazon

%d bloggers like this: