A Letter from the Editors

A Letter from the Editors

As we spent the past week finalizing the content of this issue, immersed in this unglamorous side of creativity, production, and design, the incoming news was filled with pain and suffering. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck outside of Kathmandu, Nepal, taking lives, security, and livelihoods; prayers for rebuilding, recovery, and hope in Nepal radiate around the world. The death of Freddie Gray while in custody with the Baltimore police has stimulated protest and unrest across the United States as citizens reflect upon race, class, power, inequality, and privilege; prayers for justice, reconciliation, and change echo throughout the United States. 

To reflect upon these recent events in light of the content of this issue is to acknowledge the continuity of our human stories of pain and healing, of suffering and resurrection, of violence and peace, and of injustice and reconciliation. We cannot ignore the connection between the tremendous losses in Nepal and our feature here, “The Power of Remembrance,” which looks at the impact of the earthquake in Haiti five years ago. We cannot ignore how recent protests in the United States, from Baltimore to Philadelphia to Boston, connect to the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement as highlighted in the Reverend Jennifer Bailey’s article on Selma fifty years later; the need for such protests is also due to race-linked wounds in our consciousness as Dr. Carroy U. Ferguson articulates in his essay in this issue. These are the stories of our time. 

As we see pain and suffering around us, we also witness regeneration and hope, as exemplified in the wisdom shared by the Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo in our exclusive interview with her here. Responding to hundreds of years of state-sponsored oppression of the Native American people of the United States, the Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo and many others successfully advocated in the 1970s for the freedom of Indigenous people to express their religious beliefs. Since then, she and others have been working to restore the practice of ancient Eastern Cherokee traditions at Sunray Peace Village in Vermont. 

We call Anchor a different kind of conversation because we are not scared of seeing things as they are—both the difficulties and the great wisdom that is available to us from so many experiences and traditions. We believe that true change can only happen when we are honest in our awareness and understanding of what is before us.

We have selected pieces for this issue that certainly do not shy away from the pain of the world but also that, we believe, offer insight into the ways in which we can together move towards a spiritual orientation that generates compassion, connection, healing, and hope. As Heather Lyn Mann articulates in “The Weary Advocate’s Guide to Happiness,” it is important for us as advocates for justice to make space for suffering. We can only transform suffering by seeing it, moving toward it, and discovering the courage to act in a way that will shift the status quo.

In our photography feature, Rania Matar’s photographs of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon show us the value of seeing the inherent beauty and dignity in human life, especially in the challenging spaces where it may be easier for us to look away.

Engaging in contemplative practices allows us to engage this way of seeing in our inner lives, offering us insight into how we might meet the world as it is in order to change it. When we open up space in our hearts to be with difficulty, additional space opens up in our relationships and communities for us to act in a way that heals, connects, and reconciles.

There is something mysterious about opening ourselves up fully and vulnerably in this way. In the articles, “The Issues in Our Tissues” by Nikki Myers and Becky Thompson and “From Despair to Gratitude” by Nadia Colburn, we learn more about the transformative power of such opening through yoga practice in particular. 

This mysterious process takes time, community, inspiration, and understanding. Our sincere desire is that the articles, reflections, poetry, and art shared here can be resources as you seek to open your hearts. 

Issue 03 is the largest issue of Anchor to date—it is full of pieces that honor the ways that we see the world in its wholeness. All of the expressions here—in both their creation and consumption—are an essential part of the process of transformation that begins when we notice the world around us and contemplate our roles in it. And so, again, we invite you to make space in your days to immerse in these pages—to be part of transformation in your heart and in the world.

In love, peace, and solidarity,
Perry, Nadia, and Elissa