Caren Goldman is an award-winning journalist and spiritual retreat leader. She is the author of Healing Words for the body, Mind and Spirit and co-author of Finding Jesus, Discovering Self. She has also served a conflict resolution consultant to churches, synagogues, and not-for-profit organizations. This unusual and creative work is designed for those who are deeply involved in the social media; those feel attached to people, places, and things from the past; and those who are keen on reunions of all types.
According to Goldman, parts of us are busy questing for answers or tips about:
• Why am I here?
• Where do I come from?
• What is my purpose in life?
• What have I done unto others and myself?
• What have I avoided and not tried, risked, and realized?
• What's missing?
• Who do I say I am?
Indigenous people have wisely created rituals for young people to get in touch with their ancestors and learn about their heritage and inheritance. Charles Hepler is quoted as saying, "When I worked on an Indian reservation they had a saying: Sometimes you have to go back just to see how far you have gone." Today many of us find it therapeutic to re-visit the past and to renegotiate our relationship to it. This can be done effectively through participation in family or class reunions.
Another pathway to recreating our true selves is by a close encounter with some object that means a lot to us. Goldman suggests the following exercise to mine the meanings out of the experience:
"If you were to name a knickknack, curio, souvenir, necklace, watch, piece of clothing, or something else that instantly reunites you with special childhood memories, what would it be? . . . If it is still part of your life, where do you keep it and when do you visit, admire, or use it?" You see, nothing can be excluded from the process of dealing with the missing pieces of our lives that need to be re-claimed as useful resources for our personal renewal.
Goldman spices up these chapters with quotes and commentary on films, novels, poetry, and a series of probing exercises. She also shares stories from her own life experiences. Among those quoted is Thomas Moore who says that the soul is always interested in our connections to people, places, and things. The poet Robert Pinsky once said: "Deciding to remember, and what to remember, is how we decide who we are."
Caren Goldman makes a good case for doing the inner work necessary to transform our lives through the spiritual practices of remembering and re-connecting with all that is meaningful in our lives and experiences.