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WORDS FROM FRIENDS

TO DRINK FROM THE SILVER CUP

Tina on the Danish island of Bjørnø

SPIRITUALITY AND CREATIVITY
Part I



My interview with Tina will appear in four parts, to be followed by a piece on a painting of hers that hangs in my living room.

I have known Tina Kragh Rusfort since the first time I lived in the Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School’s Copenhagen ashram in 1991. In fact, that first time, I sublet her room for part of the time. Since I was only in Denmark for the summer then, I’d get shunted around from room to room, but I was glad to have a place to stay. I was there so Cheyenne could spend time with her other mom and her dad’s family, both of whom are Danish.

Most of the folks in the ashram were Read More 
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TO DRINK FROM THE SILVER CUP

Love the mischief in Jo's eyes

FISHERWOMAN’S BOOKSTORE:
AN INTERVIEW WITH JO DORAN
ABOUT HER SPIRITUAL JOURNEY




I held this interview with my dear friend Jo Doran in July 2015. When we talked, I promised her, as I do everyone I interview, that she would be able to read and make changes if there I was anything I got wrong or that she didn’t want made public. Jo and I both thought we had more time than we did, and she passed away on March 13 from breast cancer that she’d been dealing with in some way since before we met. I didn’t have a chance to have her read this, but I asked her two daughters, who were part of her care team, if they would. They were enthusiastic about it. I share our conversation as a memorial to Jo.

I knew Jo Doran since 2004, when I quit being a middle school counselor and started an MFA program in creative writing at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. I was 56, and most of the students in the program were in their late twenties and early thirties at the time. I was drawn to Jo in part simply because she was only a couple of years younger than I was, and both of us were mothers. But it was also because she was so full of energy and love of life.

Part of my program involved teaching freshman composition, and Jo was a devoted, crackerjack instructor, so even with all my years of experience teaching, including at the college level, I knew I could learn a lot from her, and I chose to observe her in action. Jo was also a wonderful poet—stunning, really.

After a year Read More 
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LESSONS FROM THE JOURNEY

Chay. Photo: Cheyenne Jansdatter

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…. Broad, wholesome, charitable views …cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime. ~ Mark Twain



CAMBODIA JOURNAL: DAYS 7-9



During the next three days we developed a kind of routine. I had recorded the second part of my interview with Wayne on Sunday (Day 6), and when we finished on Monday, I felt an unexpected release. Our talks were fascinating, and I was getting what I had come for, but when I turned off the recorder, I started sharing more of myself. It was like old times, when Wayne and I knew each other 30-plus years earlier in Gallup. Only it was better, because both of us had found a measure of freedom from our rule-bound religious upbringings.

In the mornings, Cheyenne and I read and napped, the heat and humidity making us more lethargic than usual. I went for a walk one morning along Read More 
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LESSONS FROM THE JOURNEY

Waiting for light, photo by Cheyenne Jansdatter

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…. Broad, wholesome, charitable views …cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime. ~ Mark Twain


CAMBODIA JOURNAL: DAY 6




It’s harder to write about Wat Opot than about ancient temples, the delights of riding in a tuk-tuk, and the lush Cambodian countryside. The lives here were not once lived in now ruined temples, and though it was a minor wonder that in ten years ten buildings had been constructed where there were only rice fields and marching red ants, telling about Wat Opot requires going deeper. I have to tell about lives that have been formed by great tragedy and yet are some of the most vibrant, joyful lives I have ever encountered.

When Wayne took us on a tour on a humidly brilliant Sunday morning, our first full day at Wat Opot, he salted the tales of each building, its function and how it came to be, with stories of children and parents and how they came to Wat Opot. AIDS had touched every single one in Read More 
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