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Reconfiguring the Enemy


by Susan McCaslin Lately I’ve been learning how to see the “enemy” as a potential friend who might not be so “other” as first assumed. I became involved recently in a local grassroots effort to save an endangered mature rainforest near my home in British Columbia – a 25-acre parcel of land filled with western […]

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Grounding Transcendence


by Susan McCaslin Today I want to reclaim the use of the word transcendence. I also want to reclaim my love of the sensual world. Transcendence for me used to signify above, away, outside, Spirit, separation from matter. To transcend was to move beyond tawdry things like compost, fights with annoying neighbours, or family turmoil. […]

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Honouring Our Mentors


by Susan McCaslin From the moment I heard poet Robin Blaser lecture in my first graduate course at Simon Fraser University in 1969, I was drawn like a moth to the strings of a piano, to borrow a metaphor from his well-loved “The Moth Poem”: The moth in the piano will play on frightened wings […]

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Arts and Activism


by Susan McCaslin The arts have always been avenues for both contemplation and action. Poetry may be seen as one of the softer art forms, but it can be one of the most powerful. Like the earth itself, poetry arises from the dark ground of being, from unknowing, from mystery. Poets give voice to the […]

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A Morning Meditation on the Value of Periodic, Non-Judgmental Self-Examination


by Susan McCaslin “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Plato I’ve found it helpful to do periodic, non-judgmental self-examinations. The sound of this phrase sits with my soul much more comfortably than the traditional term “confession,” although that term simply means “to speak or acknowledge something together.” Gentle self-examination is certainly related to the […]

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Awakening the Peaceful Beast Within


by Susan McCaslin Sometimes a writer notices themes and patterns in her work that she wasn’t consciously aware of during the initial writing.  I noticed recently that three of the twelve chapters of my book Arousing the Spirit specifically address the question of how to embody peace in the world. When I mention to friends […]

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Peaceful Resisters


by Susan McCaslin I feel like I’ve always been a Peacenik. Recently, I noticed that my book of essays, Arousing the Spirit, contains no less than three essays on peace, so you could say “peace-making” is a sub-theme of this book about the mystical way. Though I was born with the same propensities for violence […]

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Art and Activism: An Engaged Aesthetics


by Susan McCaslin When I was first invited to write a series of blogs based on my Wood Lake book, Arousing the Spirit, I was reluctant to blog on my own writing. What I had to say is already there in the book, I thought, so what’s the point? Yet reflecting on what I wrote […]

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The Wars Against the Self


by Susan McCaslin Today, September 21, is the International Day of Peace. By the time you read this blog, the occasion will have passed, but like Mother’s Day (which for some has become a sentimentalizing of the mothering principle) the practice of active peacekeeping can easily be forgotten in the day-to-day of living. I’ve been […]

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Pipeline

Holy Presence: Is Being in the Now Enough?


by Susan McCaslin Writing is a mysterious process. Nothing you have to say is final, as there are always new nuances to explore. The next rush of words may just coalesce in surprising, unanticipated configurations. Being present to this kind of process is kind of unsettling and even dangerous, because as a writer you might […]

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