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What I know for sure (guest post from Ronna Detrick)

This week Ronna Detrick is sharing a guest post of her love of scripture stories about women. Make sure to join her this summer at the Abbey (along with John Valters Paintner, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, and Roy DeLeon) for an exploration of the scriptures and the questions to which they call us. Exile and Coming Home: An Archetypal Journey through the Scriptures is a six-week online class which begins June 16th!

Ronna Detrick

What I know for sure:

When I read the ancient, sacred stories of women I am ever-finding intimate, generous, wise companions who come alongside to strengthen me; who make sense of the circumstances in which I find myself; who soothe my tired brow, who bless me, and who provide me the encouragement I need to continue on. Sometimes their stories enrage and embolden me – their circumstances so much harder than my own, their silencing so much more blatant than mine has ever been, their marginalization and dismissal so much more excruciating than I can begin to imagine. Either way and in all ways, I am compelled in nearly out-of-body ways to tell these stories, to tell of these women, to hope that you will come to know and love them as I do. They deserve that. And I believe that you do, as well.

If I could, I’d tell you story after story from my life; particular circumstances and scenes in which these ancient, sacred stories of women have been nearly the only thing to sustain me. And if I could, I’d strive to make sure you understand that I do not read or love them because they are housed within scripture. Actually, I read and love them because they exist, period. Because they have survived – despite thousands of years of less-than-stellar tellings. Because if they can survive, so can I. Because they remind me that I am not alone; that I am their daughter, their lineage, their kin.

In all my reading and telling of their stories, and in the living of my own, there are three things I’ve come to know for sure:

1. We persevere.?

Do your shoulders bow at the word itself? Do you feel its ominous weight pressing against your chest? Do you hear the voice within that says, “Please, can’t I just catch a break?!?”

But what if perseverance wasn’t a default setting or a required characteristic; rather, something you celebrated and even aspired toward? To persevere embodies the best of who we are – not because we must (though that is true, as well), but because we can. We have the capacity. We have the ability. We will endure – no matter what. And because of such, this is not something to sigh over. Our perseverance is worth celebrating, toasting, and shouting out loud to all who will hear and then some!

2. We are prophets.

It just keeps getting better, doesn’t it? Mmmhmm. Truth-be-told, you probably don’t want this title or this role. You might think of a prophet as soothsayer, fortune-teller, or predictor of the future. Or maybe you hearken back to old stories about guys in the bible who had a pretty bad time of it – martyred, tortured, and usually dismissed as crazy. Uh, no thank you.

In truth, prophets have been and are people who tell the truth. They see what is happening around them and name it. They speak and/or act cogently and boldly in response to what is. They articulate the reality within which they live – politically, environmentally, socially, culturally, spiritually, relationally, emotionally. Is it easy? No. Would they often rather just remain silent? Yes. But can they, really, and still be true to themselves? Absolutely not.

To be a prophet(ess) describes exactly who we are when we are functioning at our best, when we are living in places of integrity and resonance with our deepest wisdom, when we do not remain silent, when we boldly and bravely tell and live our truth – no matter the consequences, the risks, the ramifications. It’s got to be done, we know this, and we are up to the task.

And these two certainties lead me to a third:

3. We are amazing.

As I’ve steeped myself in these scriptural narratives, I have encountered amazing examples of perseverance that would cause the bravest of souls to quake in their heels. I have encountered amazing prophet(esse)s who have spoken and acted in such strength, such truth, such power that no matter how their story has been mangled and maligned throughout the years, they will not be silenced.  I have encountered amazingness that defies all explanation, limit, and time.

Because they are amazing, we are, as well. For we are their daughters (and sons), their lineage, their kin.


Believe me, there is much of which I am not sure. I have endless doubts, unanswered questions, and ongoing struggles with theology, with doctrine, and with just the day-to-day realities of my life. But in the midst all my uncertainties, the ancient, sacred stories of women sustain me. Their perseverance enables mine. Their prophetic voice invites my own. And their amazingness reminds me that I am called to and capable of the same.

And if me, I’m pretty sure, so too, you. —Ronna Detrick

Register for our summer online course!

Exile and Coming Home: An Archetypal Journey through the Scriptures

June 16-July 27, 2014

A six-week online program

with John Valters Paintner, Ronna Detrick, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, & Roy Deleon

The scriptures can seem foreign and out of date to modern readers. The Bible is often ignored, misused, or abused even by those who claim it as their own sacred text. And yet, beneath all its modern baggage, it holds great sacred truths. Only through careful reading and reflection can we find a deeper kinship with our spiritual ancestors. It is time to put aside what we think we know and read again with fresh eyes what the scriptures have to teach us.

This six-week course will explore the universal experiences of exile and return home again through personal reflection on the stories of several Biblical figures and Psalms. These offer invitations into different archetypal themes of what it means to live meaningfully as a contemplative and creative person in the world. How might these potent stories and ancient prayers from the Hebrew Scriptures deepen our journey into becoming monks in the world and artists of everyday life?

Each week we will explore a different theme which break open the great archetypal themes of exile and coming home at the heart of the scriptures, a male and female voice from scripture, and a Psalm which deepens our understanding of the theme, connecting our prayers to the great lineage of monastic tradition.

The course includes reflections by John Valters Paintner, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan, and Ronna Detrick whose passions are the wisdom of the Scriptures for our world today. Roy DeLeon will be inviting you into a gentle movement prayer for the week’s psalm, to explore its meaning in an embodied way.

Each week you will be invited into reading, questions to ponder, the practice of lectio divina, creative invitations through writing and photography, movement prayer, as well as an online forum to have conversations with other monks reflecting on this journey. John, Richard, Roy, and Ronna will be facilitating this virtual gathering space. You are welcome to participate online as much or as little as needed for your own journey.

Click here for more details and to register>>

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4 Responses

  1. Thank you . These words resonate with me so much. For one year ,I immersed myself in the study of the mystics. I often asked myself “What makes these ordinary people so extraordinary?” I have found that they prayed, fasted ,embraced silence and followed the guidance of their hearts. Their inspiring lives have encouraged me and sustained me through many of life’s upheavals.Now I will add this wonderful article to my collection . Thank you, again and again.

  2. I love every word of this Ronna, the truth, the integrity and the wisdom.
    Thank you,

  3. Wonderful and, for me, timely, thoughts offered with love, Ronna. One of my words I selected this year is perseverance. As time went on, I was feeling that the word was perhaps too severe. Why would I think that? During that time another word became my focus: Heart. By now my first word has faded into the background. Your encouragement on persevering reminded me of that early year endeavor and it is just what I need right now. As you say, I know I can persevere through anything! Thank you. I also love the conviction in your title: What I know for sure!