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jo's picture

Memo #3

(Sorry it took me a while to figure out how to get this in here as I made it in Word). This is an idea of a chart that I have as a way of thinking about the layerd and overlapping areas of knowledge that exist within our Cannery experience. My memo talks about a lot of what we discussed in class today, and I modified this diagram per Sarah's suggestion, adding another circle for the knowledge that comes with being in prison. The way I've placed the circles suggests that the knowledge we have from outside the Cannery classroom and the knowledge the incarcerated women have do not touch, something that we talked about today and were unsettled about. It makes me think about the quote from Sweeny about the rickety bridge between self and other. As you can see the two are almost overlapping but not quite. Is this accurate to our experience and does it allign with the rickety bridge idea?

Sarah's picture

Memo 3

My memo addressed one of my struggles throughout the semester in the Cannery, which was the power dynamic between the Bryn Mawr and the Cannery women.  I imagined what to would look like to revise our class through the PAR approach and discussed obstacles that would make this difficult, and successes in the class that put us on the right track to PAR.

sara.gladwin's picture

On Silence and Resistance- reflections on Linda-Susan Beard

As beautiful as the idea of being comfortable with silence is, wrapping my head around actually performing silent activities is a different story. I was impressed by how fulfilling silence is for Linda-Susan Beard, and I thought a lot about my own restorative practices. For me, talking has always been restorative. Not shallow or surface conversation, but the kind of talking where two people come together form a different kind of understanding. For me, thinking has always been a vocal and collaborative process rather than a silent and internalized one. I was told once that there have been studies done on cats where a cat was placed in a room with no stimuli and they were essentially brain dead- no activity went on when there was nothing stimulating a response. I can’t remember who told me this or even if it’s true, but when I’m alone, I feel like those cats. I feel muted, stunted- that without the benefit of another person to think with me, I’m unable to think fully. After hearing Linda-Susan Beard talk about how fulfilling silence was for her, I wondered if we were both talking about the same kind of restoration, even if we achieved it in different ways. She spoke of feeding off of silence in a way that seemed very similar to how I feed off of conversation; it is sustaining.

Dan's picture

The contemplative child

I keep coming back to Linda Susan Beard’s brief comments on children -- or on being a child and knowing what you want from life. She told us that she felt drawn to Christianity as a child so strongly that her mother thought she was fanatical. Her desire to be alone with Christ as often as possible caused her to want to join a Convent when she was only nine. However, her mother would not allow her to.

Are we better at listening to ourselves as children? Professor Beard attributed the accuracy of her early calling to the order to the contemplative nature of children, and she told us that many of her friends who are now monks, nuns, or priests knew that they wanted to be just that when they were five or six years old.

Owl's picture

On 12/9/12 A Dama Divina passed away in a horrible plane crash. . .

I thought I would share this story as a reflection on how sometimes finding voice in an environment that is not yet ready to listen can be more turbulant than silence. And only through the death (or the infinite silence) of an individual do we appreciate just how precious that voice was. 

Jenni Rivera, a famous Mexican-American singer known for her work in Mexican banda and norteno music, passed away in a horrible plane crash. She was infamous among her female fans (including myself and my mother) for speaking out about the violence she experienced in her relationships with men through her music. She was also named spokeswoman for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She however, was judged a lot by many of her "enemies", as she would call them, because they did not necessarily agree with her strong and effervescent personality. She was constantly mediatized as loud and obnoxious.

Her story complicated silence for me, and reminds me of Icouldn'tthinkofanoriginalname's post: /exchange/procrastination-turns-productivity-and-deep-reflection-incarceratedlifers#comment-139771 in that it is through her death/eternal silence that she is glorified and heard.

Hummingbird's picture

Catholic School and Silence

I went to Catholic school from age 5 to 13, so when Sr. Linda-Susan Beard spoke with our class on Thursday, I felt an immediate and somewhat overwhelming connection to what she was saying. I, too, was a very contemplative child and was particularly faithful from ages 8 through 12, but it's something that until recently I'd come to reject or deny in my personal history. I didn't pray on a regular basis by myself, but I did find comfort in praying in church with my class or during morning prayers each day at school. At the time, prayer for me often did involve asking for something from God. I prayed for family members to stay healthy. I prayed for peace in war stricken regions. I prayed for forgiveness for arguing with my sisters.

Sometimes, though, I was able to enter the entirely contempletive and silent kind of meditation that Sr. Linda-Susan Beard spoke to – and in those moments, I felt utterly at peace with myself and my surroundings. I remember distictly one day in seventh grade when my class went to confessions (to tell the priest our sins and ask forgiveness for those wrongdoings) and I spent almost thirty minutes entranced by the sunlight streaming through the stained-glass windows. I thought it was the most beautiful and God-filled moment I'd ever experienced. 

sdane's picture

Remembering Sister Alice

During Linda Susan Beard’s visit in out class, I couldn’t help but continually think back to Sister Alice Strogen, who passed away last week and who danced in and out of my life over the last ten years, always playing an important role.  As I’ve been thinking about how to process her very sudden death, I keep going back to the grief that Sister Alice herself had to face on an almost constant basis as a byproduct of her job at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  What was so interesting about her is that (unlike many doctors and nurses I know) she really did allow herself to take the time to feel intense sorrow over the deaths of the children she worked with.  But after pausing for that moment of sadness, she kept on doing her work with the same commitment and passion.  I was drawn to Prof. Beard’s experience participating in a silent retreat after the murder of her nephew, and how she relayed the ways in which she dealt with her inner, personal demons during that time.  In the piece we read for class, she talked about an “encounter with the Lord” she had on her way back from that retreat.

Owl's picture

Learning how to deal with personal problems in silence

A recurring problem I have noticed, in participating in the silence exercises, has been this fear that in silence the individual is trapped within the walls of her own real life problems and worries. That is to say, that even in one's own mental and bodily silence one can't escape his or her reality. During Linda-Susan Beard's visit this week, a classmate of ours asked what can we do to escape our reality and truly be silent within. Beard responded saying that through silence, she did not escape, but rather found new perspective and thus new ways of confronting her reality.  This reminded me a lot of the women in Sweeney. I couln't help but think about how the women in Sweeney's book used literacy and reading as a way to deal with reality. The women related to characters in books and found comfort in knowing that there were similarities and differences between themselves and the characters. However, they did not use their connections as excuses to dwell on thier lives of crime and 'victimhood', but to open themselves to new perspectives.

As Linda-Susan Beard spoke to our class, she mentioned her retreat of silence during a rough time in her life. As she described her experience she mentioned how, in that context, reading was not allowed. I found myself questioning that in relation to the women in Sweeney's book. What would happen if we took the women from Sweeney's book and asked them to do a silent retreat in which they could not read? 

Sharaai's picture

Linda-Susan Beard's Visit

"Silence is pregnant, not empty.”

When Linda-Susan Beard came to our class, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that I had heard her name in class and during my time at Bryn Mawr but that was all I knew of her.

But when she began to speak, I was immediately pulled in. I was worried that I was going to have a hard time paying attention since I had such a long week but I was completely pulled in from the beginning.

Sarah's picture

Linda-Susan Beard's visit

Last week I felt anxious knowing that Linda-Susan Beard was coming to class.  As an atheist I must admit I often make assumptions about people who hold religious positions, particularly that they are going to shove religion down my throat, or that they will automatically hold distain for me as an atheist.   I arrived to class a little late and frazzled, which added to my anxiety.  Right when Linda-Susan began speaking though, I felt very soothed by her voice alone.    I really loved her introduction of humming followed by silence, as it allowed me to collect myself.  When she was telling her story of being angry at God for allowing her nephew to be murdered, my eyes began to water, as this is a story I felt I related to when I was younger and questioned the existance of God in response to the death of my mother.   I really wanted to ask Linda-Susan if there were something specific about the silence that allowed her to forgive/reconcile her relationship with God.  I also wanted to ask her what she thought the connection was between religion in morality, because the struggle I face the most as an atheist is people thinking I am therefore not a moral person.  I didn't ask this though, because I felt anyway I would phrase it was going to sound like an attack on her religion, which I feel she might hear a lot on a Bryn Mawr's campus.  Even though I didn't ask my questions, I am still glad she came to class, as it reminded me once again that I hold assumptions that need to be challenged. 

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