Hi everyone, I met Helen back in March 2017 at an author event, and I knew right away this lovely lady had a story to share. I love chatting to women about how they overcome the difficult days of their lives. It is always inspirational to listen to such stories. It reminds me when faced with my battles that others are out there confronting their own. It teaches me to be grateful and joyful for every single day.
ONE THING FOLLOWS ANOTHER: When I think about my life, I realize that what I had to overcome was all of a piece with my whole life. It wasn’t one event. It was a series of events, one growing out of the other or caused by the other.
I was brought up in the 40’s and 50’s. The restrictive parameters of growing up French Catholic in a conservative time influenced the decisions of my life and not always in a positive way. Fear of sin and hell was an ever-present component of our religion classes and sermons at our French Catholic church. In this environment, where sin was around every corner, the church encouraged young men and women to seek their salvation by entering the priesthood or the convent, often at an early age, as young as twelve, when one’s character wasn’t completely formed.
I succumbed to this persuasion and entered the convent at the age of 17 with no clue about what I was doing or what that life was about.
Over the years, the world was changing in tumultuous ways, the rebellious 60’s brought change in the Catholic Church also. Pope John the 23rd wanted the Church to be a servant in the world and not to be exercising the power that it was used to. There was a more pastoral approach to life and how to live it. There was a call to action which reverberated with many, including myself, who no longer saw the ways they were living as relevant.
This change led me to leave the convent and to set out on a new spiritual path. I could never have imagined, when I was twenty or even thirty years old, how far this would lead away from the Catholic Church to an embrace of interfaith as a way of life.
I went to Boston University School of Theology and studied and prayed with people from many religions. It shattered my parochialism and narrow thinking and I emerged as a student of the spiritual path as lived and practiced by religions as different as Methodist to Hindu.
Soon after, I discarded all religious trappings as I struggled through an abusive relationship that left me no energy for anything else. Having been in the convent, I was innocent to the ways of the world and to the fact that someone could be so controlling, self-centered and abusive. The therapy I have done over the years has allowed me to see that everything was connected from a controlling father, controlling church and controlling partner. In 2004, at the age of 62, I began my new life of choosing to be in control of my destiny.
Through therapy I found healing and a different way to look at my life and choices: with much self-acceptance and compassion. During this time, I was able to reconnect with my spiritual path and find inspiration from many religions and spiritual thinkers. In 2015, I was ordained as an Interfaith Minister and now live a life true to my own spiritual nature.
Helen likes the mantra “the Universe provides for all my needs.” This coincides with my trust in life and in things to work out favorably – even though in the moment it may not seem that way. That is why mindfulness and being present is so important.
WAYS TO GET IN TOUCH WITH HELEN.
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My book is available on Amazon: Coming to the Edge: Fifty Poems for Writing and Healing
At times, when we are in a difficult place, we often feel we’ve come to the edge of our endurance. What remains before us is the darkness of the void. We can choose to stay at that awful edge or to move on to paths that are life-giving and supportive. Many of these poems speak of being in that place. They also speak of resilience and trust that solutions will show themselves as we choose to move on. In other circumstances, when life is going well and we’ve worked through our pain and struggle, we move confidently forward bathed in the light of understanding, support, love and friendship. Our hearts become full and our joy, like the waters in a rain-fed river, flows over the edge into new streams of possibility. I wrote Coming to the Edge with the intention of sharing my difficult but transformational journey. My hope is that my poems will be a springboard for your own thoughts and expression; a tool to discover your own answers and your own truth.