Thursday, September 9, 2010
Growing in Circles by Bonnie L. Casey
I just finished reading Growing in Circles: My Struggle to Make Peace with God, Myself and Just About Everything (Two Harbors, 2009)by Bonnie L. Casey. The list of girlfriends I'd like to send a copy to is long: women going through midlife divorce, women fighting depression, fibromyalgia or PTSD. Not to mention mothers of children with conditions such as Asperger's syndrome. Also, I have one friend in Idaho who is writing a spiritual memoir and she would appreciate this book. The subtitle says it all!
Bonnie's tale, a journey from the Seventh Day Adventist religion to eclectic mysticism, is structured around the steadying influence of her Sacred Circle girlfriends. In Bonnie's words, here is the purpose of the group: "to support each other in our search for meaning and connection with the Divine." Her group meets monthly, and readers are privy to their wonderful topics of discussion, sent out in advance by email. Among the topics: finding joy in life, habits to discard, perceptions that influence inner peace, significant experiences with animals, the influence of myths and fairy tales, relationships with fathers, and many more. What an honor it was to look over Bonnie's shoulder into the group's dynamic influence on her life. Because I too, also belong to a women's sacred circle group that meets weekly to discuss similar issues, I am a great believer in their shared wisdom and resonance. I think of these meetings a form of spiritual practice as well as a bedrock of friendship and connection.
I wonder if Bonnie has ever seen the book Signs of Life: the Five Universal Shapes and How to Use Them (Tarcher/Putnam, 1998) by anthropologist Angeles Arrien. In it, she explores how circles, spirals, squares, crosses and triangles encourage and inspire us. Circles are of course a powerful symbol of wholeness. Bonnie L. Casey's circular journey to wholeness is a true heroine's journey. Among the tools she finds useful in her battle with mental, physical and spiritual crises are yoga, labyrinth walking, gardening, meditation, mindfulness and gratitude. She also touches on labyrinth walking, one of my favorite spiritual practices. One of the watershed books Bonnie found along her path to wholeness was Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype (Ballantine, 1992) by Jungian psychoanalyst Clarissa Pinkola Estes, also a book I highly value and tend to read over and over.
I am indebted to Here Women Talk, a social network I stumbled upon a few months ago, where I enjoy facilitating a discussion group called Creative Intentions, for introducing me to Bonnie L. Casey and her soul-searching, inspiring book.