Here are the simple instructions for the inside covers of the Inner Beauty Passports:
The Hindu goddess Kali has 108 names. Some are sweet (Protector of All Girls) and some are scary (Garlanded with Skulls). What are your 108 names, from most likable to shadowiest, from proudest to most shameful? What roles have you fulfilled? What have you been called? Write a litany of your 108 names.
Hearing me mention the sweet & scary names of Kali, Chaplain Emily exclaims, Well, THAT sounds like womanhood! We are gathered together for an impromptu picnic lunch at Wilson College, in Chambersburg, PA, where my beautiful-hearted friend Mary Beth Williams is Associate Dean of Students. I've been invited to give a workshop, lead a lunch-and-learn (aka picnic), and then offer a meditation in the afternoon.
Everywhere I look are signs of people learning, thriving, taking care of one another & themselves. The farm field above the center of campus is swaying with collard greens in thick, bushy rows. Pink-and-black spotted piglets roll in deep, clean sawdust in the barn, and super-fit farm interns stride towards harvest. Students in equestrian pants and high leather boots chase each other around between classes; students in dark blue Vet Tech scrubs pause to study. Patrick Dougherty is on the lawn with his assistants, building some kind of giant turreted nest out of willow boughs, and I am nearby with my own crew of Inner Beauty volunteers & participants. I learn there's a program here to support women students with children under 10 - offering free daycare and appropriate co-housing. Roberto, a student from Brazil, answers the Free/Not-Free questions with such honesty & good humor that briefly, I think, the rapture has happened, and Wilson College is it.
Mary Beth & I & the women at the Inner Beauty picnic, & the women at the Becoming Animal Meditation have all seen a thing to two in our lives, and it's not stopping us from leaning in towards the possibilities for wholeness and growth we see in the world. In fact, knowing that marriages end & jobs end & parents get old & kids get eating disorders & dirty dishes keep happening & religious orthodoxy will never be our friend keeps us anchored, knowing goodness takes work. We choose versions of rapture that we bring into being, side-by-side, and apart. It is good to be here, on this next-to-last leg of my journey.
Julie Püttgen is an artist and meditation teacher.
108 Names of now