Letter from the Editors

We have spent much of our time in creating this issue focused on how to find the light in difficult times. How do we seek lightness of being without ignoring the real heaviness that exists around or even within us? And how can probing difficult situations help us come to more lightness? 

At times like this, as we feel the collective rise in social, economic, and political disruption, it is easy to swing to the poles—either engaging in avoidance and denial or overindulging ourselves and dwelling in the angst and disruption. The real spirit of life—the true gift spirituality has to offer—lies in the middle ground that unites the desires at each of those poles. 

We explore this kind of unitive, practical spirituality across traditions in order to be present with life as it unfolds and to be in service of the quest for justice, peace, and equity. The spiritual life is not intended to bypass dealing with the real impact of difficult emotions and experiences in life, just as the concept of social justice is not pursued in denial of the fullness and possibility embedded in positive emotions and experiences in life.

In Anchor, we hope to illuminate the experiences of and relationship between struggle and joy. Our goal is to examine issues of equity, justice, healing, dialogue, and more across time, nationality, and spiritual traditions. 

In this issue, Carolyn Baker looks at the importance of addressing our shadow side both individually and collectively. She helps us understand the current social and political situation in the United States of America through the lens of the collective shadow and helps us see what happens when we either avoid or over-identify with it.

This issue also helps us understand our present moment by imagining different means of transformation. In Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg’s piece, we interpret with her the meaning of the Un’taneh Tokef, exploring individual versus collective responsibility.  Margaret McMullan’s piece explores the power of remembrance through the story of a long-lost relative who died in the Holocaust. And we learn about the motherliness of God as taught in the Ramakrishna tradition of Hinduism through the personal story of the Rev. Mother Sudha Puri.

Mooji’s reflection, “The Two Birds,” helps us cultivate the inner observer, and we explore ways of avoiding burnout with Jennifer Jean’s short piece on the practices she uses in teaching survivors of sex trafficking. William Keepin and Rev. Cynthia Brix share stories of spiritual connection and healing across painful gender inequities and injustices, giving us inspiration for pursuing collective spiritual practices in the face of conflict and injustice. Josh Huber reflects for us how poetry may aid and support people in recovery from addictions.  And Lewis Mehl Madrona, a doctor who uses Indigenous methods of storytelling to promote healing in clinical settings, teaches us about the powerful ways narrative medicine can heal. 

In addition to these pieces, there are many more sources of inspiration in this issue, including poems by Mark Nepo and others as well as fine art by Carol Odell, Colette Brésilla, Mark Chester, and John Swan. Our wish is that these words and images provide you contemplative pause, creating moments of transcendence from and presence in the ordinary.

Our aim is not to provide answers but rather to open up new conversations, questions, and perspectives. We ourselves find recognition and hope in the collection of voices, expressions, ideas, and visions collected here in these pages.

Take your time to enjoy the pieces fully. We hope you’ll share these pages with friends and loved ones who are also searching.

In Peace and with Love,
Perry, Elissa, and Nadia