Real ceremony begins with listening

real ceremony begins with wonder


The real ceremony begins where the formal one ends, when we take up a new way, our minds and hearts filled with the vision of earth that holds us within it, in compassionate relationship to and with our world.

– Linda Hogan


Summer allows for ceremony, when we connect quickly with natural beauty, dear friends and family, and all the ways that wonder interrupts our daily routines. Real ceremony jars us from the regular.

A new way is suddenly obvious.

I am sitting in O’Hare Airport in Chicago, not that far from where I was born at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston. It is the day after the New Moon, a period of great opportunity to launch new ideas in the world, a period when desires take seed in fertile ground. I am on the verge of a big thing.

We held a ceremony under these wings

And I am just on my way from a different big thing. Yesterday was a ceremonial celebration at Penland School of Crafts of the life of my beloved teacher and friend Paulus Berensohn. There are many people who walk this earth who refer to Paulus in the same way. A whole heap of them gathered yesterday to sing, to dance, to share stories, to make mail art, to share food and drink, and witness the body of community that Paulus built by his presence in our lives.



My summer is a collection of big things. New ways are opening every single day.

In Jan Phillips’ class at IWWG July 2017

Both kids are working out in the world, Catherine on the Hudson River and Ben in Washington, DC. I spent a week teaching at the International Women’s Writing Guild earlier in July.




Consider this post a tiny little parade of joy across your day, littered with images of my visit to Penland to honor Paulus, to launch the brand new page for New Illuminations here on this site.

Are you curious about my work in Armenia with women artists? You can visit this new page, designed by the team at Tracking Wonder. I keep a separate mailing list for New Illuminations, my residency in Gyumri, Armenia.

Please join that list for special posts about the project.

What is immediately next is a week with my sisters and their families in the Upper Peninsula. There will be mosquitoes. There will be picnics. There will be books made.

I am not afraid of hard work or bountiful joy.

I am not afraid of my work having a place in the world. I am drawn quickly and soulfully to making ceremony in daily life, alert to the gifts of the holy that appear all over our life when we pay attention. I care deeply about the silence of women, and the ways that motherhood influences our inner lives.

As I travel, I speak to women who are regular readers of this blog, like my dear friend Barbara Aycock. Yesterday we were both caught in the motion and emotion of that big gathering at Penland. Walking next to each other in the thick North Carolina air was just enough to remind me of the importance of real life connections in our Rampant Sisterhood.

In late August, I will host Backyard Art Camp in an obvious location…that being my backyard. One of my beloved students from the Powder Keg Online writing class was all ready to attend from a far away location but for health reasons is not able to make the trip. This is your chance to send healing love and light to a sister. Without sharing her name or situation, I invite you to hold her in your dear heart.


We are so much more together.


Listening begins for me in my daily creative practice. I feel sometimes that I am setting myself up to receive when I meditate daily and do yoga. By writing in my journal before I have conversations with other humans, my inner ears are open. Terry Tempest Williams says, “Listening is the first part of ceremony.” I believe it to be so.


I am off to my flight.

Please share the New Illuminations page with your people. There are media and donation links designed to make your interaction easy and graceful. I hope to raise funds to return to Armenia in October of this year.


Tell me, how is your summer going?

Share a moment of ceremony in the comments.

I would love to hear.














Recommended Posts
Showing 4 comments
  • Tasha

    I’m tacking this above my desk today: “I am not afraid of hard work or bountiful joy. I am not afraid of my work having a place in the world.”
    I am not afraid of work, but truthfully I am a little bit afraid of too much joy, and more so of claiming a place for the things I make, as I think a lot of women are. Thank you for putting this out in front of me, it’s a challenge to my heart! Much love and safe travels!

  • Christine Mercier-Ossorio

    Well Susie,
    I am glad for your pilgrimage to Penland and your sharing about it as I was detoured at the last moment by an abrupt surgery of a friend or I could have bumped into you there.
    I am still touched by our Powder Keg writing experience this winter and glad I followed through with sending my last assignment to Paulus.
    I also am” not afraid ….and care deeply…”
    thank you for your spirit and continuing inspiration.
    Your quote is ontop my desk, as well as I struggle with fun, work, the season, friends and family never knowing what’s on top or within reach on any one day but gratefully
    moving inch by inch.

  • Ann

    Thanks for the photos from Penland Suzi. Good to know about the celebration for Paulus.
    Yes, well ‘summer’ here is still going; 26C today. Sadly silly. I’ve just returned from visiting my girls where it really was winter temps and I just loved getting chilled cheeks, a cold nose then sitting by a roaring fire in a good pub! I thought of you when I saw the Clumber Bible on display (1395) a huge handmade and decorated book if ever there was one. Privilege to be able to see it. Also managed to see Vincent’s paintings up close and follow his energy in the brush strokes. Awesome! To think they let them travel all this way from Europe. That was my celebration for one of those ‘zero’ birthdays which is nearly here! It’s been a joyful time.

  • Deirdre McKenna

    Hello Dear Suzi…we miss you! I have been drinking in as much summer as possible…visiting Six Depot and letting the sweet memories of our time there gently wash over me…reading Travelling with Pomegranates, written by Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter during a trip to Greece…loving it. I identify with both the mother and daughter in so many different ways. Much love!