For our first themed column, in deference
to the 9/11 disaster, we have selected the
topic of healing. While the first several
quotations pertain specifically to that
horrific event, most of the quotes are broader-based.
My own view of healing is that, despite
a male dominated medical industry, it is
a particularly female art. Women have stroked
the fevered brow of the ill for millenia;
they have bound up wounds and winding clothes;
they have mended clothes and fences; they
have sown and reaped and cooked to feed
their families; they have suffered degradation,
deprivation, rape and oppression, only to
become strong at the broken places and to
move on. Healing is part and parcel of the
- In sisterhood, Elaine
Bernstein Partnow, Editor
QUOTATIONS ON HEALING
To her daughter's request to hang out an
American flag: "Definitely not. The
flag stands for jingoism and vengeance and
war." Her daughter replied: "The
flag means standing together and honoring
the dead and saying no to terrorism."
Katha Pollitt (1949- ), American
journalist, poet, The Nation, September
It can't go unspoken that most Americans
didn't much notice the plight of Afghan
women and girls until bin Laden delivered
his diabolical philosophy to our shores.
Which suggests that the United States no
longer can afford to ignore human rights
violations anywhere they exist.
Kathleen Parker, American
columnist, Orlando Sentinel, 4 October
As we recommit ourselves to patriotism
-- to a richly deserved love for this wonderful,
wounded country -- we mustn't forget that,
while our military and economic strength
keep us flourishing, the nation's heart
and soul are its love of liberty and justice
Geneva Overholser, American
columnist, The Washington Post, 18
In the name of progress, pluralism, tolerance
and liberty, you leave no choice for those
of us who are not fortunate enough to share
this sensation of liberty and the benefits
of the civilization you wish to defend for
your people, we who never had sympathy for
terrorism since we were its victims. We,
who are proud expressions of other civilizations;
who live day to day with the hope of turning
discrimination and plunder into recognition
and respect; who carry in our souls the
pain of the genocide perpetrated against
our peoples; finally, we who are fed up
with providing the dead for wars that are
that are not ours
Rigoberta Menchú Tum
(1959- ), Guatemalan Indian rights activist;
Nobel Peace Prize, 1992; Goodwill Ambassador
for the Culture of Peace; from "An
Open Letter to George W. Bush," 23
There are people in each religion who hold
their beliefs in a tightfisted way as if
it were the only thing that could be true.
There are also people in each religious
tradition who hold their beliefs in an openhanded
way, an invitational way, making their faith
part of a complex and multireligious world.
Diana Eck, American author
of A New Religious America, 2001
Turning off the TV news meant not only
the shock of sudden silence, but the fact
of having to move through that silence.
It was a burial, a plowing under of visceral
and sensible attachment to what had been
lost, and this meant that the tragedy, which
had existed outside of myself as national
broadcast, had to live inside my skin from
that moment on.
Allyson Goldin, American
writer, from an e-mail essay (September
Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early
What so proudly we hailed
At the starlight's last gleaming
And with G-d's holy love
Shining down from above
Gave proof to us all
That our strength is still here
Eryn Kalish, American citizen;
spontaneous rephrasing of "The Star
Spangled Banner" at Marin County vigil
It is desperately painful to see people
die without having done anything to deserve
it, and yet this is how lives end nearly
always. We get old or we don't, we get cancer,
we starve, we are battered, we get on a
plane thinking we're going home but never
make it. There are blessings and wonders
and horrific bad luck and no guarantees.
We like to pretend life is different from
that, more like a game we can actually win
with the right strategy, but it isn't.
Barbara Kingsolver (1955-
), American writer, "A Pure, High Note
of Anguish," Los Angeles Times
(23 September 2001)
Try tropic for your balm,
And after storm, calm.
Try snow of heaven, heavy, soft and slow,
Brilliant and warm.
Nothing will help, and nothing do much harm.
"Of the Properties of Nature
for Healing an Illness" by Genevieve
Taggard (1894-1948), American poet &
Healing depends on listening with the inner
ear -- stopping the incessant blather, and
listening [ital.]. Fear keeps us chattering
-- fear that wells up from the past, fear
of blurting out what we really fear, fear
of future repercussions. It is our very
fear of the future that distorts the now
[ital.] that could lead to a different future
if we dared to be whole in the present.
The Pregnant Virgin (1998)
by Marion Woodman (1928- ), Canadian
Jungian analyst and author
To heal ourselves we also have to heal
Sacred Pleasure (1995) by
Riane Eisler (1931- ), Austrian/Cuban/American
macrohistorian and author; founder of Center
for Partnership Studies and the International
I would mend and with vengeance.
The Love Object (1963) by
Edna O'Brien (1932 - ), Irish/English
writer and pacifist
Too often we associate healing only with
medical treatment . . . [but] healing is
more than just physiological . . . the patient
can take part in his own recovery. The family
can offer a vital supportive environment
in this effort.
The Healing Family (1984)
by Stephanie Matthews-Simonton 1940
- , American psychotherapist; pioneer in
Nothing cures like time and love. . . .
"Time and Love" (1970),
song by Laura Nyro (1946-1997), American
singer and songwriter
The work of healing is in peeling away
the barriers of fear and past conditioning
that keep us unaware of our true nature
of wholeness and love.
Minding the Body, Mending the
Mind (1987) by Joan Borysenko (1950?-
), American educator, psychotherapist, yoga
instructor and biologist
Sofia (the character portrayed by Winfrey
in the film The Color Purple) teaches
us that there is a great will and power
inside us all, and that you can overcome
anything. You can be down, you can even
be broken, but there's always a way to mend.
Oprah! (1987) by Robert Waldon,
quoting Oprah Winfrey (1953- ), American
TV and film producer, actor and host
What a shame that
I'm not a fortune teller.
I would tell fortunes
only with flowers
and I would heal
the earth's wounds
with a rainbow.
from First Draft (1987) by Nika
Turbina (1974- ), Russian poet
Twentieth-century medicine, which has worked
so many miracles, has been chemically not
structurally oriented. Hence, the lay mind
thinks of chemistry as the only outstanding
healing medium -- a drug for this, a shot
for that. But any mirror photograph would
reveal that a great many problems are matters
of structure, of physics . . .
Rolfing (1977) by Ida
P. Rolf (1896-1979), American biochemist
and physical therapist; developer of Rolfing
Since "cure" and "heal"
can be used interchangeably, I didn't reflect
before making my choice
. The one occurrence
is not necessarily more miraculous than
the other, but the drama of it -- the paralytic
rising to his feet and trudging with his
pallet past the outraged scribes, Lazarus
staggering from the cave's mouth in his
stinking graveclothes -- distracts and delights
as healing's tedium cannot do.
Ordinary Time (1993) by Nancy
Mairs (1939- ), American essayist
. . . the inner voice; the human compulsion
when deeply distressed to seek healing counsel
within ourselves, and the capacity within
ourselves both to create this counsel and
to receive it.
You Can't Keep a Good Woman Down
(1981) by Alice Walker(1944- ), American
writer, poet, teacher civil rights activist
Creative visualization is magic in the
truest and highest meaning of the word.
It involves understanding and aligning yourself
with the natural principles that govern
the workings of our universe, and learning
to use these principles in the most conscious
and creative way.
Creative Visualization (1978)
by Shakti Gawain (1948- ), American
therapist, dance teacher, workshop leader,
How could one live, while such things were
going on? How could one endure consciousness,
except by giving oneself up wholly and forever
to helping, and comforting, and at last,
at last, perhaps healing?
Mr. Skeffington (1940) by
Mary Elizabeth Arnim (1866-1941),
Showing up for life. Being blessed with
the rebirth that recovery brings.
One day at a time.
Glad Awakening (1987), with
Chris Chase, by Betty Ford (1918-
), American civic leader and First Lady
The night has been long,
The wound has been deep,
The pit has been dark,
And the walls have been steep.
Refrain from "A poem from
the Million Man March" (1995) by Maya
Angelou (1928- ), American writer, poet,
Recovery is so difficult to navigate because
one is required to travel simultaneously
in two directions: to walk again through
the familiar landscapes of the past and
to journey at the same time into unknown
territory, to live as one has never before
"Landmarks" (c. 1998),
essay by Terry Wolverton, American
literary editor, writer, poet
We see nothing, we walk gropingly, and
things do not come about as they have been
foreseen and advised. One falls and, just
when one thinks oneself at the bottom of
an abyss, one finds oneself on one's feet.
Letter to her son (1652) by Marie
de L'Incarnation (1599-1672), French
nun; founder and mother superior of the
first Ursuline Mission in Canada; quoted
in Word from New France (1967) by
There are moments when one cannot weep,
nor speak, nor pray, -- only be quiet before
The Slaveholder's Daughter
(1900) by Belle Kearney (1863-1939),
American writer, educator, lecturer
"Why must you always try to be omnipotent,
and shove things about? Tragic things happen
sometimes that we just have to submit to."
The Salt of the Earth (1935)
by Rebecca West (1892-1983), Irish/English
writer, literary critic, suffragist
I think my biggest achievement is that
after going through a rather difficult time,
I consider myself comparatively sane. I'm
proud of that.
Remark (1979), Jacqueline
Kennedy Onassis (1929-1994), American
editor, photographer, First Lady
That's what I like about you; you're like
me. We're both going to make it because
we're both too tough and crazy not to!"
And we held each other and laughed and cried
about what we had paid for that toughness,
and how hard it was to explain to anyone
who didn't already know it that soft and
tough had to be one and the same for either
to work at all, like our joy and the tears
mingling on the one pillow beneath our heads.
Zami (1983) by Audre Lorde
(1934-1992), American poet, writer, feminist
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.
"Song at Midnight"
from The Book of Light (1993) by
Lucille Clifton (1936- ), American
writer, poet, educator
Surviving meant being born over and over.
Fear of Flying (1973) by
Erica Jong (1942- ), American poet,
We have survived and in that survival is
our life, our strength, our spirituality.
And we are telling about it
Preface by Linda Hogan
(1947- ), American writer, poet, playwright,
Indian rights activist, educator; in The
Stories We Hold Secret (1986)
FUMIKO. Ha. First our women put on dresses,
then cut their hair, and smoke like men
KIHEIDA. You see what your Yankee freedom
has done? You live in Kobe, a beautiful
city ravaged by Yankee fire bombs, your
own parents victims of them. How can you
strut about in American clothes as Yankees
walk in their ashes?
FUMIKO. (somberly). I do not look back,
Asa Ga Kimashita (Morning
Has Broken; 1981), play by Velina Hasu
Houston (1957- ), American writer, playwright;
co-founder, Amerasian League
Man's unique reward, however, is that while
animals survive by adjusting themselves
to their background, man survives by adjusting
his background to himself.
For the New Intellectual (1961)
by Ayn Rand (1905-1982), Russian/American
novelist, screenwriter, philosopher
The human community is evolving. . . .
We can survive anything you care to mention.
We are supremely equipped to survive, to
adapt and even in the long run to start
Quoted in article about Doris
Lessing (1919- ), English novelist,
playwright; in The New York Times Magazine
(25 July 1982),
We allow our ignorance to prevail upon
us and make us think we can survive alone,
alone in patches, alone in groups, alone
in races, even alone in genders.
Address to Centenary College
of Louisiana (March 1990) by Maya Angelou
(1928- ), American writer, poet, actor,
a woman can't survive
by her own breath
she must know
the voices of mountains
"Fire" by Joy Harjo
(1951- ), American poet, writer, musician,
Mere human beings can't afford to be fanatical
about anything. . . . Not even about justice
or loyalty. The fanatic for justice ends
by murdering a million helpless people to
clear a space for his law-courts. If we
are to survive on this planet, there must
A Cup of Tea for Mr. Thorgill
(1957) by Storm Jameson (1891-1986),
English editor, writer
I have wept to see thee weep.
"Stanzas, written between
Dover & Calais," from Poems (1775)
by Mary Robinson (1758-1800), English/French
poet, playwright, novelist, actor, teacher
The most practical thing in the world is
common sense and common humanity.
My Two Countries (1923) by
Nancy Astor (1879-1964), American/English
politician, civil rights activist; first
woman to sit in British House of Commons
You can't give people pride, but you can
provide the kind of understanding that makes
people look to their inner strengths and
find their own sense of pride.
Article in Reader's Digest
(October 1972), "Mother" Charleszetta
Waddles (1912- ), American nun, writer;
founder of Perpetual Mission for Saving
Souls of All Nations, Inc.
If I had known what trouble you were bearing;
What griefs were in the silence of your
I would have been more gentle, and more
And tried to give you gladness for a space.
"If I Had Known" by
Mary Carolyn Davies (fl. 1920s-30s),
American poet, playwright, songwriter, editor
I have come to know for certain that our
first identity is not nationalist or unionist,
but our humanity. I have come to know for
certain that love and compassion are the
greatest and strongest forces operating
in our world today.
"A New Vision -- An Open
Letter to the IRA" (2000) by Maireád
Corrigan (1944- ), Irish peace activist;
recipient of Nobel Peace Prize, 1976
to "Women of Wisdom" Main Page
Bernstein Partnow is the editor
of "Women of Wisdom," and she is a perfect
fit for this task. Compiler of the noted
Quotable Woman, The First 5,000 Years,
Elaine started working on the first edition,
way back in 1974, she was making the transition
from actor to writer. Now in its 5th edition.
Quotable Woman has become the standard
book of quotations for women's studies programs
and organizations all over the English-speaking
world. She also wrote The
Female Dramatist a few years back, and
has just came out with a new collection,
Quotable Jewish Woman, Wisdom, Inspiration
and Humor from the Mind and Heart. Elaine
has marveled at how her work in women's
history has changed who she is and how she
is. Ever eager to share that experience
with others, she merged her two passions
- acting and women's studies - and began,
in 1984, to present living history portraits
of notable women to civic and educational
institutions. To date she has given more
than 400 such presentations to upwards of
50,000 people, not only across the U.S.A.,
but in Mexico and even China! You can find
out more about Elaine by visiting her web