A Letter From the Editors

  “Kiev 2002,” Collage on Paper, by Elissa Melaragno

“Kiev 2002,” Collage on Paper, by Elissa Melaragno

It is an honor to release this inaugural issue of Anchor after what has been nearly two years of reflection, expression, and conversation. The three of us came together for the first time in a workshop series at Still Harbor, entitled Writing as Contemplative Practice. The series offered space for us to share stories and silences, to explore expressions and experiences, and most importantly, to ask questions of ourselves and of the sacred. Our shared fascination with the simultaneous knowing and unknowing that seemed to emerge in the places where spirituality and social justice meet in our lives and work propelled us into this project. Our interest only deepened as we gathered with potential contributors at last year’s Serving Our Communities: The role of spirituality in making change conference hosted by Still Harbor and Imago Dei Fund.

At last, this spring, we assembled the set of essays, poems, and artwork you find here in hopes of creating a publication that allows its reader—you—to open up to an experience of witness. The selections in this issue, in particular, all offer some form of testimonial, ranging from mystical to pragmatic. Roshi Joan Halifax shares stories of compassionate accompaniment of the dying. Kirby Erlandson shares portraits and voices from Muhuru Bay, Kenya. Julie Barnes offers a winding inner reflection on freedom. And we could go on. We believe that the diverse voices, traditions, and perspectives of our contributors in this issue, and over time, will open up a meaningful exploration of the intersection of spirituality and social justice. 

As editors, we have been asking ourselves how thoughts, beliefs, ideas, personal narratives, spiritual practices, and creative expressions can help us understand both spirituality and social justice more deeply. We have asked what is the source and meaning of spirituality and social justice for ourselves and for others, and we have wanted to know how the two can support each other. Sometimes these questions (and others) have seemed answerless. But then we will encounter a story that grips us in body, mind, and spirit, or we will discover a work of art that offers us an experience of the strength of life that awes and amazes us. From this place of witness, we remember the beauty and knowing of our shared existence and feel connected to something greater than ourselves. The world can be a difficult and daunting place, especially for those of us on the front lines of social justice work. But to go into service and activism without such remembrance and connection is even more daunting. Even amidst pain and uncertainty, the power of what we share and the ways we connect can uphold us.   

Our wish is that this publication will offer moments of encounter and experience with the source of such power and connection, and so, we invite you now into a small moment of retreat with these pages. We invite you to bear witness to your Self, to the stories and expressions of Others, and to the Sacred or unknown; for it is from such experiences that we are able to see clearly where spirituality and social justice meet.

        With peace and love,

        Perry, Nadia, and Elissa


by Still Harbor