Peace Never Leaves

I spent yesterday at the Mother’s Plunge retreat in Boston with a close friend. As Karen Maezen Miller said at one point, everything comes around twice, and indeed this was my second opportunity to spend a day with her and a few dozen magnificent women, each one in some way my reflection.

So thank you, Maezen, once again, for reminding me of what I already know and so often forget to remember and neglect to practice.


That “mindfulness” without meditation practice is just talk.

That love is attention
attention is breath
breath is faith
faith is patience.

That peace never leaves us, but we leave peace.

That our heads hold up the sky.

That you can tell a lot about a person from their gassho.

That when in doubt, it’s always good to begin by saying your name.

and when someone says, “Hello,” even if you are in the middle of a walking meditation or something else that seems VERY IMPORTANT, say “Hello” back.

That the sun comes up and goes down ALL BY ITSELF.

That your life is not at battle with you, even if you are battling your life

and the light on the water changes throughout the day

and sometimes our kids just want ONE MEASLY MINUTE of our attention.

And speaking of which, with you all as my witnesses, I intend to leave my computer OFF when I am with my girls for those few precious hours at the end of the day after school, and to not check my BlackBerry obsessively or talk on the phone when we’re together –

and that beating myself up about the past is not productive,

nor is succumbing to panic about the future.

That in fact, it is always a good time to start

and practice without practical application is useless

and yes, indeed, everything happens right on schedule

and mine will be the story that only I can tell.


I am not writing up my notes. Really. And believe me, I was once a ridiculous note-taker. In fact, we were gently encouraged not to write down a thing. Because really, what is there to remember?

That love is attention
attention is breath
breath is faith
faith is patience.

And when I forget these too, then just love. Just attention. Just breath. Just faith. Just patience. Just be. Just do.


I also got to meet Meg and Lindsey in person, such a treat. And several other kindred spirits, some of whom even live here in Vermont.

We experienced the gift of Katrina Kenison reading to us, taking time away from being with one of her dearest friends, who was at the end of a courageous fight with ovarian cancer.


I’ve been called a lot of things, but never before a “walking exclamation point.” Thanks for that, Trish,

who also said, “Nothing about you could be contained in parentheses.”

I felt seen.

Then we shared a hug, the kind people exchange when they’ve shared something real.

Real is all I’ve got these days.


And yes, everything changes, and we are still standing. I am still standing. And then I am sitting, sitting myself down, criss-cross applesauce, the breath stabilizing after the storm, counting from one to ten and then beginning with one again, having survived excruciating pain and having witnessed and experienced mystery and miracle, the hand of God on my head, holding me, blessing us all in an infinite embrace that makes me sound uncannily like my maternal grandmother, may her memory be a blessing.



14 thoughts on “Peace Never Leaves

  1. Jeanette LeBlanc says:

    There is something so utterly delicious about seeing this widening arc of connections. Maezen, who I’ve met before and feel deeply, head over heels in love in about three seconds, you – who i just finally met in person and then Lindsey, who I only know online – but who feels so completely kindred.

    Such magic, the internet.



  2. Beth Patterson says:

    Loopy in love with all y’alls, I am.

    After my mom died, when I was 23, the thing I missed the most was the feeling of her hand on my head; the blessing of that, the comfort of that, the grounding of that.

    if I may be so presumptuous, I lay my hand on your head today, dear Jena. in blessing, in comfort, in grounding.


  3. Lindsey says:

    It was so marvelous … you describe much better than I could what the day meant. I can’t believe, by the way, that I didn’t meet Meg Casey!!! I adore her and am so dismayed that we were in the same room and I did not meet her.
    You are kindred, and I am so grateful.


  4. Annie says:

    The clarity of your words so perfectly recollect the day in a way in which my memories were unable. Thank you for such a lovely and graceful post.


  5. denise says:

    Wow. Being there, and now reading your lovely thoughts, brings me right back. (An ardent note-taker myself, it pained me–in a good way, I now see–not to note take.)

    Maezen said that what we needed would come back. And it has. Here. And within me.

    Thank you for these salve-like words. Namaste.


  6. Trish says:

    You are so adorable in the flesh, ringlets and all. Wanted to scoop you up and put you in my hip pocket, warm, snug and safe. You’re a little doll with the heart of a lion.

    You are walking exclamation point and yes, your essence can not be contained in parentheses.

    Looking forward to seeing you again this fall.

    Remember you are seen, you are lovely and your heart is on the right path.



  7. Katrina Kenison says:

    I kept wishing I could take notes on Saturday — but now I see that Maezen was right. There was no need for notes, there was you! You with an uncanny ability to remember and write down all the things I would have been scribbling myself, when I should have been just being. The room was full of amazing women, and only now, afterwards, am I starting to piece it all together, to figure out who was who. I’m so glad you introduced yourself, but only now, reading your spot-on wonderful reflections, do I know exactly who you are. Jena! You dear woman who wrote me a wonderful note way back last January and posted my video on your blog. Thank you! If I could, I’d hug you now. xk


  8. Miranda says:

    It was terrific to meet you, Jena. I have every confidence we’ll meet again in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime I’ve passed your info to Kate, my dear Burlington friend. Wish I could be there to introduce you two in person!





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