We are three friends who all have joined Cafh. We came at different times, but Cafh has provided each of us with a method of life and expansive perspective that has assisted us through the various changes, difficulties, and joys of our lives. We have known each other now for over 25 years. Our friendship began while working together at a treatment facility for emotionally disturbed and delinquent girls. We were single, college graduates, in our 20's and products of the 60's.
We are now middle-aged women. We each have married, had children and developed careers. We have been faced with personal, family, and professional challenges. Cafh offered a consistent rudder that kept us on course during turbulent times and helped us to find in our personal challenges the universal experience.
This article developed out of a conversation we had about how we found our way to Cafh, about hard won lessons along the road, and about our appreciation for the support we have been given in the continuous work of unfolding. Ideas we found to be in accordance are expressed with the collective "we"; at other times, the speaker is identified.
We were looking for something more. We had studied philosophy, psychology and various spiritual traditions. Each offered important insights and experiences. Political activism had expanded our consciousness of the world, our compassion, and our sense of justice, but the outrage and alienation were not sustainable. One of us had lost a family member in a car accident; that loss had generated deep grief and an awareness of life's impermanence.
Psychotherapy had helped us to examine memory and conditioning, to clear away some "old stuff", but now we needed a sustainable means of continuous inner work: a daily practice of clearing and renewal, a way to deepen and expand our sense of personal meaning and purpose.
Karen was introduced to Cafh through a friend from her college days, Gordon Waters. She says, "After I met the spiritual director, I felt that Cafh seemed right for me. I didn't question. I just started and figured I'd see if it fit."
Barbara adds, "I wanted a means to give shape to the ideals, values and insights that I was beginning to glimpse through activism and exploration of consciousness. I knew I needed a path that went beyond ideas to the heart of how we live our lives, that was inclusive and loving, that focused on where we meet rather than where we differ as human beings. It is still a mystery to me how I came to join Cafh. But in the presence of the first few individuals I met who belonged to Cafh, I felt this place of heart and deep understanding and a spirit of adventure in the search for answers as to how we unfold as human beings. I wanted to learn more."
Laura had known that Barbara and Karen were in Cafh, She had experienced their commitment and had met others in Cafh through them. Laura comments, "The integrity and kindness and gentle humor of those I met in Cafh disarmed the skeptic in me. No one tried to enlist me; instead, they encouraged me to know myself and to act consistently with the truth I discovered. They related to me as a soul, always deeply respectful of my freedom to choose." With time we shared our path and enthusiasm with other two goods friends, Char Wood, who is now a TV producer in Chicago, and Barbara Towner, who is a medical doctor serving low-income families.