The Cahanas: Keeping the Faith in the Worst of Times

Keeping the faith, as we are collectively paralyzed in dark and turbulent times, is very difficult. We are in the third year of a pandemic, marked by vast losses of lives, economic crises, homelessness, and food insecurity. The senseless genocide of people in  Ukraine led and perpetrated by the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, is horrendous, blood curling and chilling. It is incomprehensible to most human beings on the planet. If you are someone like Job depicted in the Bible, who was tested with pestilence, disease and waves of losses and gut- wrenching suffering, you can keep the faith without much struggle. However, for people like myself, who are not Jobs of the world, we question where is God in this dark chaos. How can a loving God allow such intense suffering in the world? How does one keep the faith in God in such turbulent times? Where is the human capacity to love, give, share, heal and honor each other? The most difficult test on the spiritual path is keeping the faith in God or Higher Power in the face of darkness and adversity. Even more challenging is spreading the goodness in the middle of intense suffering.

Pondering these questions, I came across a short film, called, “Perfecting the Art of Belonging” directed by Kitra Cahana in 2020.   This short film is a collaboration between Kitra and her father, Rabbi Ronnie Cahana. The film portrays Rabbi Cahana’s circumstances and commentary when placed in lockdown during the pandemic in a long term nursing facility in Canada. Deeply moved by Rabbi Cahana’s holiness, keeping the faith and practice of tikkum olan (Jewish tradition of doing good and social justice), I started doing research about the Rabbi. I discovered his remarkable family members.

Rabbi Cahana is a powerful spiritual teacher in our times. His ministry  is much needed in our world. This post is not just about Rabbi Cahana. The post also includes the remarkable Alice Lok Cahana, Ronnie Cahana’s mother and Kitra Cahana, the Rabbi’s daughter. The story of the Cahana family portrays how the family kept the faith during very trying and painful times and engaged in the practice of  “tikkum olan” which led to the transformation of deep suffering, which cannot be adequately captured in words, to create spaces of healing in the world. Tikkum Olan is a practice in the Jewish tradition for Jewish people to work hard in repairing the broken world. Please forgive me as this is a very simplistic explanation of tikkim olan as I am not a scholar of Judaism. However, I believe that our collective humanity is called to engage in this practice of repairing the world, as it is very broken.


The Fritzer Ascher Society website has a powerful article, which describes three generations of artists in the Cahana family, Alice Lok Cahana, Ronnie Cahana and Kitra Cahana. Alice grew up in a Jewish family in Hungary. She was very close to her grandfather, a community leader and president of a local synagogue. At the age of 15, the Nazi army deported Alice,  her sisters, brother and mother to concentration camps. She survived  the Auschwitz-BirkenauGuben and Bergen-Belsen camps as a teenager. She was the only survivor of her family in the Holocaust. She escaped to Sweden and then, immigrated to the US. Alice Lok grappled with the question of how an omniscient, omnipotent, God of Agape Love can permit  indescribable suffering, such as the Holocaust, where  human dignity was destroyed and people were labeled with numbers, stripped of their names, and executed. Alice’s work focused primarily on the Holocaust.  Alice Lok developed multiple powerful pieces of art, memorializing the lives and voices unheard and destroyed in the Holocaust. Alice’s art is a spiritual monument to not forget precious lives and vibrant communities lost in the Holocaust.  Alice also engaged in tikkun olan. Her pictures honored the dead in the Holocaust and serves as a reminder that this should never happen. According to  Georgetown University’s Center for Jewish Civilization website(2021) post, “Alice defeated Hitler in three ways: she survived; she ended up turning the destructive processes of her Holocaust experience into creative expression–extracting rainbows from the ashes; and she and her husband produced three children (both sons becoming rabbis) and nine grandchildren”.  Alice’s artwork is a powerful reminder of the urgency in addressing the genocide in Ukraine.


Rabbi Ronnie Cahana was a pulpit rabbi for 25 years before he had a stroke in his brain stem which left him as a quadriplegic patient. In her TED TALK in 2014, Kitra talked about  Rabbi Cahana’s journey of healing after a stroke.   The stroke  impaired all his body movement  with the exception of his capacity to blink his eyes.  His brain is fully functioning and alive. His speech consists of sublime spiritual meditations on love, connection and buoyancy of the human spirit, mind and body.

Rabbi Cahana is a brilliant philosopher and gifted poet. He demonstrates the remarkable capacity of the human condition for joy and resiliency when touched by the Divine Force even in the most challenging circumstances. Like Alice Lok who repaired the world through images, Rabbi Cahana uses words and poetry to practice tikkum olan. In the 2014 TED TALK, Kitra Cahana  states her shock when finding that her father is locked in his body due to paralysis. Kitra Cahana discovers that the Rabbi has the capacity to blink to letters and the Rabbi’s first communication was to tell her not to cry because this injury is a “blessing”. Amazing. Stunning. Kitra Cahana describes her father’s healing, and use of adaptive technology to communicate. I am astounded by the Rabbi’s comment that he refused to play the part of a “quadriplegic patient”. He states that despite his paralysis, he soars, dances and twirls in his dreams above the city. He discusses how at  one point, he was very low and his father pulled him upwards. Kitra Cahana makes the astounding point that as the outside world shuts down for the Rabbi, he travels inward to touch the core of his spiritual self, “Higher Self” which may be instrumental in  transforming his experiences of suffering into mystical states.

Rabbi Cahana eventually goes home and ministers to his congregation. His poetry, a reflection of the incredible spiritual wisdom and strength in his soul, is found on his blog. In the short film produced in 2022, “Perfecting The Art of Longing”, Rabbi Cahana very powerfully points out that holiness exists in this world. He points out holiness is when the body is loved. He celebrates holiness in asking for help and receiving help to meet bodily needs. He discusses the holiness in his dreams about the deep love for his wife, Karen. His dreams of dancing manifest holiness. He defies his physical condition as he dances in joy in his dreams. He does not seem angry. His spiritual gift is in transforming his bodily wounding experience to a sacred experience of learning about the holiness in the human condition. His goal is to live fully. He sees holiness in love, relationships and connections which bind us to our families and communities. His family’s love and care for him is beautiful to watch. He also tells his daughter, Kitra, after his injury not to cry because there is much work which needs to be done to repair a broken world. Tikkum Olan.


Kitra Cahana is a photographer, videographer,  director of films and documentaries.  She is a very accomplished woman and created  documentaries,  films and other projects. She received numerous prestigious prizes for her work. Her devotion to her father and compelling images of her father highlight the importance of honoring human dignity. Her work explores the inner world of her father’s soul. She is sharing the gift of her father’s poetry and meditations on love to uplift humanity in our current bleak times. While her father is in long term nursing facility, Kitra Cahana developed documentaries on nurses and doctors in the middle of the pandemic. She discusses that due to her role as a caregiver for her father, she has become an advocate for medical professional and staff in nursing homes.  Kitra also creates documentaries for vulnerable people in long term nursing homes, as they are at high risk for COVID. In an interview on caregiving in the era of COVID-19, for the podcast, Conversation with a Rabbi, Kitra talks about story telling as a form of social activism because it destroys the blindness of society to the pain and suffering of marginalized groups, such as elderly and disabled people in nursing home. Story-telling through video photography allows the world to see the current state of affairs and creates momentum for change. In Canada, the statistics for COVID related fatalities for people in nursing homes is 69%, yet, 1% of Canada’s population live in nursing homes. Kitra founded the organization, Artists-4-Long-term care. She is also involved in the Strength Based Nursing Home movement.



The central first question, why does a loving God allow suffering in the world, remains unanswered to me.  Different religious and spiritual traditions have different theories about this.  The second question is how to keep the faith in God or Higher Power in dark times of adversity. I do not know for sure. Each individual’s test of faith is unique.  But I do know that the astounding stories of Alice Lok Cahana, Rabbi Ronnie Cahana and Kitra Cahana depict how they kept the faith and practice tikkum olan despite intense adversity. They demonstrate strength and buoyancy of the human spirit to transform suffering and transcend to healing actions to repair our broken world.   Alice Lok Cahana honored and memorialized the dead in the Holocaust through her art. The Rabbi Cahana is healing a broken world through his ministry of words and poetry about love and demonstrating the spiritual force to transcend suffering in the human condition. Kitra Cahana is a social activist and video photographer , with the soul of a poet, in advocating for vulnerable people and channeling her father’s work. Incredible people.

Rabbi Cahana ministered to my soul in these dark times because he shows the remarkable spiritual wisdom and strength that is embedded in the human condition. He is an embodiment of the statement, that human beings are eternal spiritual beings in a temporary human experience . He gives me peace that we can endure to better times. He gives me peace that not all is lost. That is an immense gift to me. He is a powerful teacher of maintaining the faith, optimism and all that is good in the world. I believe that God places people, like Rabbi Cahana, in the middle of storms as a reminder of the best in humanity. I hope that readers also receive the ministering of this incredible Rabbi Cahana in the dark times we live in.

I also am a firm believer in the ideology of tikkim olan. Each one of us has the responsibility to repair the broken world. In repairing a broken world, a key priority is that the genocide in Ukraine led by Vladimir Putin needs to end.




Apparitions of the Virgin Mary have been reported in many places, such as, (Lourdes) France, (Fatima) Portugal, Kibeho (Rwanda) and Yuzawadai Akita (Japan). Our Lady of Guadalupe is a highly revered Marianne apparition that occurred in Mexico almost 500 hundred years ago and her basilica is in Mexico City. She is referred to as “the Mother of Love and Compassion to all who call her name”.  Nabhan-Warren (2023) referred to her as the “the Indigenous Virgin Mary”, as a symbol of inclusive love, who “loves her children no matter what”. Ayala (2021) discussed her “many names: Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, La Virgin de Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas, Our lady of Tepeyac”. According to Gorny and Rosikon (2016), the shrine of the Lady of Guadalupe is the most visited pilgrimage place in the world, with over 20 million people visiting her basilica in Mexico City every year.  Ayala (2021) also addressed the popularity of the Lady of Guadalupe with “Catholics, non-Catholics and …non-believers”. Ayala (2021) wrote that Our Lady of Guadalupe is not just on an altar or church but also “emblazoned on a pair of dangling earrings or on a muscular forearm”.

Our Lady of Guadalupe means many things to different people.  She speaks to people all over the world. I am 100% “Guadalupan”, but not Catholic. I do not identify with a particular religious affiliation. However, the three religious traditions that have influenced me heavily are Hinduism, Catholicism and Buddhism. I grew up for the first ten years of my life in India where I was exposed to images of the Divine Mother in Hinduism.  I attended catholic elementary and high schools and the figure of Mother Mary stood out to me.  My search for the feminine face of the Divine started after I lost my mother 12 years ago. In my search for the face of the Divine Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe resonated in my heart. She is an anchor for me in my faith life. I pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe regarding the details of my life. For me, she is interested in both the mundane humdrum and significant matters in my life. Just as my mother was. I recently watched a beautiful movie about relationships, “Past Lives”, brilliantly directed by Celine Song (2023). Song (2023)  explores a semi-autobiographical, powerful and poignant story of relationships between two childhood friends, lost loves and the Korean Buddhist concept of “in-yun”, or” inyeon”, related to reincarnation, which is very intriguing.  Son (2023) described the concept of “inyeon”, through the dialogue of Nora, Korean American protagonist of the movie “Past Lives”. Nora stated “It’s an inyeon if two strangers even walk past each other in the street and their clothes accidentally brush, because it means there must have been something between them in their past lives. If two people get married, they say it’s because there have been 8,000 layers of inyeon over 8,000 lifetimes”. I wondered how many layers and lifetimes of inyeon must occur for a mother daughter relationship.

My devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe also led to my reflections about attachment theory of John Bowlby (1969), a British psychiatrist.   Attachments can be viewed as anchoring relationships in our lives, which help us navigate through the complexities of life. John Bowlby talked about the attachment between the primary caregiver and the infant as essential for the survival and development of the infant. Wilson-Ali and colleagues (2019) differentiated between primary attachment with the caregiver and secondary attachments that the child may form with other people in their lives. This refers to the different anchoring relationships that people have in their lives. Both primary and secondary attachments shape our stories.

According to Bowlby, the primary caregiver is attuned to the needs of the infant and takes care of the infant. This attachment relationship is the matrix through which the child develops socio-emotionally, physically, and neurobiologically. This attachment shapes the fundamental aspects of the developing child’s self-image, relationships with others and the environment. Mary Ainsworth (1971, 1978) was one of the first researchers who studied different types of attachment styles. In secure attachment, the developing child views the caregiver as a secure base and safe haven from which to explore the unknown, learn to manage feelings (regulating feelings) and learn about love. Our caregivers can be our first teachers of how to love, learn, experience joy, and live with wonderment, experience awe and manage negative feelings, like fear and uncertainty.  A neonate does not have a developed sense of self. Heinz Kohut, a self- psychologist, discussed the concept of emotional attunement of a primary caregiver to the infant’s needs and mirroring or reflecting to the developing child about who he or she is. Through the mirroring process of the primary caregiver in infancy and other significant people in the child’s life, the developing child answers fundamental questions:  Am I good? Am I loveable? Am I smart? Am I creative? etc.  Through the primary attachment relationship, the child learns different identities, such as “I am a worthy and loveable person, who can trust myself to make wise decisions” .Through the empathic attunement and mirroring of the primary caregiver  to the infant and other significant people in the child’s life,, the developing child learns about others and the world at large :  Are people safe? Is the world a safe and kind place? Can I trust others?

Researchers, like Granqvist (1998), have applied attachment theory to God and proposed two different hypotheses of attachment to God:   compensation hypothesis and correspondence hypothesis.  The compensation hypothesis states that with insecure attachment histories in childhood, there is a greater need for a stable compensatory attachment figure, like a Divine figure. The correspondence hypothesis suggests that early relationships influence future relationships and thus, if there was a secure attachment with a parent figure, then there is most likely a secure attachment to God. Thus, according to correspondence hypothesis, if one had a very conflictual relationship with a mother figure, the person may have difficulty with a secure attachment with a Divine Mother figure. If there is secure attachment with a mother figure in childhood, one may view the Divine Mother  as an anchoring or stabilizing relationship from which to navigate life.  I see Our Lady of Guadalupe as a secure and safe anchoring relationship in my life. Our Lady of Guadalupe’s blessings have profoundly impacted me. For that, I have much love and gratitude towards Her.

Thus, I am very honored to present my interview with Dr. Andrew Chesnut regarding Our Lady of Guadalupe. Dr. Chesnut is Professor of Religious Studies and holds the Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. He completed his doctorate in Latin American history at University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Chesnut’s specialty is in the religious landscape of Latin America. He is a scholar, researcher, prolific author, and professor. He eloquently discussed the various aspects of Our Lady of Guadalupe: her historical roots, cultural, religious, and political aspects, and the mysteries of the tilma, which first showed her image. A big thank you to Dr. Chesnut for taking the time to do the interview for the blog and sharing his knowledge and expertise. Also, much gratitude and appreciation to Mr. Ryan Corcino for editing the video.


Please note that the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the video is from (free image) by Antonia Felipe


Contact information for Dr. Chesnut:

Follow AndrewChesnut1 on


Contact information for Ryan Corcino:

Corcino Productions:



Mary is the only person who was present with Christ from His birth to His death. Some theologians argue that Mary was the first person to see the resurrected Christ. She represents the unconditional love that a mother has for her son. She is also a representational image of the Divine Mother to many people as indicated by the  line “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me” in the famous Beatles song, “Let It Be”.

I will end with a quote from Hetzel’s (2023) article which indicated what Our Lady of Guadalupe reportedly stated to Juan Diego:

“Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that frightens you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing: do not let it disturb you…Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need something more? Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.”




Ayala, E. (2021, December 10). “500 years later, Our Lady of Guadalupe still consoles millions with her message: God has not forgotten us”. America: The Jesuit Review.

Chesnut, A. & Kingsbury, K.  (2018, December 8). 15 Fascinating Facts About the Virgin of Guadalupe.  The Global Catholic Review.

Gorny, G & Rosikon, J. (2016) Guadalupe Mysteries: Deciphering the Code. Ignatius Press.

Granqvist, P. (1998). Religiousness and Perceived Childhood Attachment: On the Question of Compensation or Correspondence. Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion, 37(2), pp.350-367.

Hetzel, W. (2023, August 8).  “Am I Not Here, I Who Am Your Mother?” Words From Our Blessed Mother. Good Catholic.

Nabhan-Warren, K. (2023, December 8). VIVA Guadalupe! Beyond Mexico, the Indigenous Virgin Mary is a powerful symbol of love and inclusion for millions of Latinos in the US. The Conversation.

Son, S. A. (2023, September 12). Past Lives: inyeon is a Korean philosophy of how relationships form over many lifetimes. The Conversation.

 Song, C. (2023). Past Lives. CJ ENM Killer Films 2AM

Wilson-Ali, N., Barratt-Pugh, C & Knaus, M. (2019) Multiple perspectives on attachment theory: Investigating educators’ knowledge and understanding. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 44(3)







This post is a follow up to the last blog post, “Essential Hope”.  In the last post, I discussed the phenomenal book by Jane Goodall, Douglas Abrams, and Gail Hudson’s (2021)  “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times”.  In the book, Dr. Goodall  discussed the amazing resiliency of nature as a powerful reason for hope.  I was awe struck by Dr. Goodall’s account of the survival of the camphor trees after the atomic bombing in Nagasaki. 

These are pictures of the camphor trees from Shannon Lefebvre’s  website .  Please see pictures below. A Big Thank you to Shannon for giving me permission to post the pictures of the camphor trees. As you can see in the pictures, the two camphor trees, surrounding the Sanno Shinto shrine, were destroyed in 1945 by the blast of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki. However, they regenerated and and continue to grow magnificently. An incredible testament to the resiliency of nature and strength of hope. 

One of the pillars of the Sanno Shrine was destroyed but one remains. There is also a plaque honoring the loss of lives that day in Nagasaki.


Discover Nagasaki: The Official Visitors’ Guide. Sanno Sign and the One- Legged Tori Sign.

Shannon, F. (2011). Restored Camphor Trees: Nagasaki.,


I recently came across a study that blew my mind.  Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert (2010), Harvard psychologists,  found that participants in their study reported their “minds wandering” almost 47 percent of their waking hours. The term, “mind wandering” refers to thinking about stuff that is not in the present moment. Researchers concluded that a wandering mind is not a happy mind. In the Buddhist tradition, the untrained human mind is referred to as the “monkey mind”. I have become increasingly familiar with my own monkey mind. The combination of a wandering mind and given recent turbulent times can be a toxic combination.   Ruminations of past negative events and projections of future disaster may lead to feelings of hopelessness.   Mindfulness, intentional living with goals for a better future and practices of positive psychology, including cultivation of positive emotions,  such as hope, can be a powerful remedy for the wandering, unhappy and hopeless mind.

Given the current state of the world rife with crises, such as, frequent mass shootings, geopolitical turmoil, racially based violence, political divisiveness and mental health crisis,  I am more curious than ever about the hope factor. In my readings on hope,  I came across a phenomenal book, Jane Goodall, Douglas Abrams, and Gail Hudson’s (2021)  “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times”. This book makes a compelling case for hope and activism for a positive future. Dr. Goodall, a renowned researcher of animal behavior, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and United Nations Peace Ambassador, defined hope as a desire for a better future and “a human survival trait” when faced with adversity. She stated that without hope we perish. She also added that we need to work intelligently and diligently to optimize the occurrence of positive outcomes  (our hopes or visions) for a better future. I agree with Dr. Goodall, especially in terms of active hope fueled action as very  powerful. I prefer hope fueled and focused action rather than being stuck in the quagmire of the  wandering “monkey” mind.

This post will look at Dr. Goodall’s powerful invitation to humanity for hope. As a 90-year-old woman who lived through World War II and the cold war, Dr. Goodall stated she has hope for a better future in the face of numerous crises, ecological, economic, racial violence, religious discrimination, and geopolitical turmoil. This post will include reflections on her compelling reasons for hope. It will also examine some of the correlates of hope found in scientific studies.  Additionally, this post will explore  hope through the noetic paradigm.  The noetic paradigm includes the mysterious nature of hope, where hope is sometimes the only thing that arises out of our souls and occupies our hearts and minds when nothing else remains.  Dr. Goodall argued hope is for both people of faith who believe in a Supreme intelligence behind the Universe, as well as, for secular people.  She described hope as having both aspects: logical versus illogical. I agree.


Dr. Goodall argued that the “amazing human intellect” when utilized wisely is a powerful reason for hope. She stated that wisdom is when we use the powerful human intellect in actions with awareness of consequences of our actions and thinking about what is good for the whole. Wisdom integrates the sharp intellect with the compassion of the human heart in deciphering what is the best course of action to actualize visionsor hopes for a better future . Wisdom is the opposite of narcissism, where actions are based out of undiluted selfishness.

After reading Dr. Goodall’s reasons for hope, I took a deeper dive into what does psychology has to say about hope. The two most common theories of hope in psychology are Charles Synder’s hope theory and Kaye Herth’s hope theory.

Synder (2002) described hope theory as having three key components:

  1. Setting goals which can be achieved for a better future.
  2. Pathways of working towards the goal
  3. Agency or determination in utilizing resources to move forward on the pathways for goal achievement.

Tomasulo (2023) stated that goal setting needs to focus on what we can control. I am a big believer in visualizing goals, like creating vision boards, or writing goals down concisely. Another strategy is to think about macro goals (long term) versus micro goals (short term) to help you achieve macro goals.  Tomasulo (2023) described effective micro goals as “brief”, reasonable” and “present focused”. Tomasulo (2023) also discussed the importance of maintaining a “positive outlook”. A key factor in maintaining a positive outlook is to cultivate the growth mindset, discussed by researcher, Carol Dweck. In a growth mindet, it is Ok to make mistakes because we can learn from our mistakes and become better. The growth mindset fuels the phenomenon of “fall forward”. The growth mindset is different from the fixed mindset, where the expectation is perfection at first attempt, which is unrealistic and often leds to stagnation and unproductivity.

Flexibility is also critical: as one pathway closes, we need to explore new ones. Positive emotions, self-confidence, social, emotional, and spiritual support always fuel our energy to work on pathways to achieve goals. Disappointment, failure, and negative emotions are inevitable on the road to achieving goals.  Negative emotions may be processed in safe relationships, including spiritual resources, for new pathways to progress towards goals. In Herth’s theory of hope, there is a “affiliative-contextual” dimension of hope, which is very  cool. This refers to people’s perceived social, emotional, and spiritual support, and sense of belongingness. The affiliative-contextual dimension speaks to the gift of hope that we may get from supportive people in our lives and spiritual resources. The gift of hope is what we give to each other. It is like one glowing candle lighting another candle. The actions of one candle lighting a multitude of other candles does not diminish the strength or beauty of the original candle. This highlights the notion that hope, like other positive emotions, is contagious. Hope spreads rapidly, often fueling movements.

Persistence is  critical in the achievement of goals. Pathak (2020) wrote that when Thomas Edison was asked about his numerous failures before his invention, he stated “I didn’t fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps.” Interestingly, Pathak (2020) wrote that Thomas Edison, as a four year old boy with partial deafness, came home and gave his mother  a note from his teacher. The teacher wrote  “ Your Tommy is too stupid to learn, get him out of the school.” Edison’s mother responded “ My Tommy is not stupid to learn, I will teach him myself.” This highlights affiliative and contextual dimension of Herth’s theory of hope and Tomasulo (2023)’s point that an important aspect of cultivating hope is to “stick to positive people”.

Hope begets hope. As we reach our goals, we tend to develop self- efficacy or belief that we can accomplish things we were unable to do before. Hope births new hope. Like other positive emotions, hope generates itself, expands the range of possibilities, increases problem solving skills and allows us to see old problems through new lens, where solutions appear more readily.

Research on Hope

Psychologists have studied correlates of hope. Barbara L. Fredrickson, a psychologist, did phenomenal work in studying positive  emotions, such as, hope,  love, and joy. Fredrickson’s theory, called Broaden and Build theory, refers to positive emotions permitting us to build more intellectual, social and physical resources.   Cuncic (2023) pointed out that positive and negative emotions often co-exist and the goal is not to replace negative emotions with positive emotions. Cultivation of positive emotions can create an upward spiral which can help us create more coping and problem solving skills, greater resilience and gain perspective in the midst of negative emotions. Positive emotions can lead to more psychological flexibility, whereas, negative emotions, like fear and anger, are constrictive and narrow our ability to view different possibilities for problem solving, growth and well-being.

Day and colleagues (2010) followed first year undergraduate students over three years and found that their hope levels (agency and pathways) were more powerful predictors of their academic achievement than their intelligence, previous academic performance, and personality styles.  Reichard and colleagues (2012) reviewed 45 different studies and identified a 14 percent increase in  successful work performance when employees report higher hope levels than random chance.

Stern and colleagues (2001) found that hopelessness is a significant predictor of mortality in middle aged and older adults, such that, twice the number of adults who reported hopelessness died compared to their counterparts who reported feeling hopeful. Hopelessness was also a significant predictor of adults with cardiovascular or cancer.

Hope and the Indomitable Human Spirit

There are mysterious and illogical aspects of hope, difficult to decipher by the human mind, which can perhaps be better accounted for by the noetic paradigm. Peter M. Rojcewicz (2021) noted that in the noetic paradigm, phenomena are explored through the modalities of   mind/body/spirit and transcendent dimensions. The human spirit conjures hope in remote, barren places. To hope is to dream. To dream is to live.

Dr. Goodall argued that a powerful reason for hope is the “indomitable human spirit”. She described that this is the inner courage and strength to fight for goals despite tremendous adversities, like scorn, ridicule, hopelessness, discrimination,  and the ultimate cost of one’s life. She discussed people, like, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi and Ken Saro-Wiwa, a Nigerian who led nonviolent demonstrations against pollution by the Royal Dutch Shell and was executed by his government. She discussed  the critical role of Sir Winston Churchill, who inspired Britain to fight against Nazi Germany, in the face of many European nations facing defeat. I love Winston Churchill’s quote “If you’re going through hell, keep going”. No point stopping in hell. Walk through it to the other end.



The topic of hope is complex and nuanced, an area of intersectionality between psychology and spirituality. Hope is powerful, and a necessity for survival, resiliency and critical in thriving and flourishing. Resiliency is human beings in overcoming adversity is demonstrated by the vast research in Post Trauma Growth (PTG). Dr. Goodall talks about the resiliency of nature as a powerful reason which makes her hopeful. I was particularly struck by Dr. Goodall’s story of seeing two five-hundred-year-old camphor trees which survived after the explosion of the atomic bomb in Nagasaki at the end of World War 2. She described the city in ruins, tremendous loss in human lives but the lower part of the tree trunks of these two trees survived. Unbelievable. Each spring the tree grew leaves and continues to grow. Remarkable. She described how Japanese people consider these trees as holy and symbols of “peace and survival”. She stated that “spiritual power exists in all of life”. We, as human beings define this spiritual spark as “the soul”. She added that this spiritual spark exists in nature. I agree.

On another note, one needs to be careful of false hope: goals not realized with repeated pathways and agency. Trapped in false hope can be a miserable and dismal experience. Grief and loss issues may need to be processed in letting go of false hope and old visions.

I will end with the remarkable comment about hope by the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, human rights activist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and Anglican Bishop of South Africa. In an interview in the film, “Mission:  Joy (Finding Happiness in Troubled Times)”,  the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu described himself as a “prisoner of hope” when it came to his difficult struggles for an apartheid free South Africa.   Nelson Mandela, the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and his collaborators were successful in ending apartheid.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu






Cuncic, A. (2023). An Overview of Broaden and Build Theory. Verywellmind.,in%20psychology%20on%20negative%20emotions%20and%20psychological%20maladjustment

Day, L., Hanson, K., Maltby, J., Proctor, C., Wood, A.  (2010) Hope uniquely predicts objective academic achievement above intelligence, personality, and previous academic achievement. Journal of Research in Personality, 44, 550-553.

Goodall, J., Abrams, D & Hudson, G. (2021). The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times. Celadon Books (Division of Macmillan Publishers), New York

Killingsworth, M. A. & Gilbert, D. T. Gilbert (2010). A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind.
Science 330, 932 DOI: 10.1126/science.1192439

Pathak, I. R. (2020). What Thomas Edison can Teach you about Perseverance. Illumination.

Pursuit of Happiness (2023). Barbara Fredrickson .

Reichard, R. J., Avey, J. B., Lopez, S & Dollwet, M (2013). Having the will and finding the way: A review and meta-analysis of hope at work.    The Journal of Positive Psychology. 8(4).    292-304

Rojcewicz, P. M. (2021). Existential Intimacy of Learning: A Noetic Turn from STEM. Academia Letters.

Stern, S. L.,  Dhanda, R, & Hazuda,H. P. (2001). Hopelessness Predicts Mortality in Older Mexican and European Americans. Psychosomatic Medicine, 63(3), 344-351

Snyder, C. R. (2002). Hope Theory: Rainbows in the Mind. Psychological Inquiry , 13 (4). 249-275. Stable URL:

Tomasculo, D. J.  (2023). The Power of Hope. Psychology Today. D




Conversations with Dr. Jean MacPhail: A Spiral Life, Spirituality and The Divine Mother

During the months of September or October (depending on the Hindu calendar), Durga Puja, worship of a manifestation of the Divine Mother (“Ma” or “Devi”), is the one of the grandest Hindu festivals in West Bengal, India. New clothes, sweets, attending puja (worship service), giving Pushpanjali (offering flowers to the Divine Mother after chanting mantras), and singing during Arati (worship through fire). Growing up in the first ten years of my life in Asansol, West Bengal, this festival, over four days, was the highlight of the year. Sri Gyan Rajhans (2019) described Durga (Sanskrit word for fortress) as a manifestation of the Divine Mother, who protects her children against evil. She has ten arms, multitasker as most moms I know, rides a lion (demonstrating tremendous strength or “shakti’), embodies compassion in eliminating suffering in the world and grants resiliency in the inner and outer lives of her children.  I find it fascinating that Ma Durga carries a lotus, not yet in full bloom, in one of her hands. Sri Gyan Rajhans wrote that the word lotus in Sanskrit translation means “born of mud”. This indicates that spiritual awareness and enlightenment in human beings, symbolized by the magnificent lotus,  often arises from the struggles, hardships, sweat, blood, and tears, in the human condition (referring to the mud from which the lotus arises).

Given the patriarchal underpinnings of many cultures, religious and spiritual traditions tend to depict God or Divine Consciousness with masculine energies and features. However, the concept of the Divine Mother, God depicted with feminine energies and features, is also discussed in some religions and spiritual traditions. Jaya (2021) wrote an article, ” The Many Faces of The Divine Mother”, where he described the different manifestations of the Divine Mother, such as, Durga in Hinduism. Images of the Divine Mother include Kali, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Parvati, Chamundi in Hinduism.  Tara  is viewed as the Mother of Liberation in Buddhism. Dr. Sherry Ruth Anderson discussed the feminine faces of God in Judaism and Christianity. Dr. Sherry Ruth Anderson used the terms: “Shekinah” (feminine face of God in Judaism) and “Sophia” (feminine face of God in Christianity).  The Virgin Mary is an  embodiment the Divine Mother in some cultures.

In light of spirituality and the Divine Mother, I am very honored to introduce Dr. Jean MacPhail to the readers. She is my good friend, and an elder of immense wisdom, sharp intellect, wit, bold and fearless in expressing her thoughts and feelings.  She is an artist, physician, medical researcher, prolific author,  philosopher, and a nun in the Vedanta Society. I attended her presentation at a conference. I read her book, “A Spiral Life”. I am still working on her book, “Swami Vivekananda’s History of Universal Religion and its Potential for Global Reconciliation”.   Dr. MacPhail discussed that she worships Ma Kali, a form of the Divine Mother. She stated that her exposure to Celtic tradition of Goddesses led her to find refuge in Ma Kali. She also described being a big fan of the saint, Sri Sarada Devi, wife of Sri Ramakrishna.

In my opinion, Dr. MacPhail is a fully bloomed lotus, demonstrating magnificent spiritual growth despite her personal tragedies. She has studied the philosophy of Swami Vivekananda extensively and completed her doctoral thesis on Vedanta philosophy. Swami Vivekananda gave his brilliant and groundbreaking speech on Hinduism’s focus on tolerance and universal acceptance of all religions at the Parliament of World’s Religions at Chicago in 1893 (  He addressed his speech to the American audience with the endearing words, “Sisters and Brothers of America”, which led to a standing ovation by the audience.

This post consists of my interview with Dr. MacPhail, which is rich and fascinating, as she discusses her life cycles or “spirals” through a developmental perspective, each cycle consisting of disruptive stressors and healing relationships with teachers and the sacred. She discusses many facets of her spiritual journey and experiences of the sacred through Christianity, Buddhism, Celtic wisdom, relationship with the Divine Mother (Ma Kali) and Vedanta philosophy of Sri RamaKrishna and Swami Vivekananda.

Here is the link to my interview with Dr. Jean MacPhail:

Conversations with Dr. Jean MacPhail: A Spiral Life, Spirituality and the Divine Mother

The video was edited by Mr. Ryan Corcino.

Many thanks to Dr. Jean MacPhail and Ryan Corcino.



Spiral imprints are powerful symbols occurring repeatedly, ranging from the microcosm of one individual life to the macrocosm of galaxies in the universe. Dr. Brenner (2015) discussed the “spiral process” and particularly the  cycles in the spiral imagery as  stages of life where our consciousness experiences transformation, birth, death and rebirth of the self. She also discussed the spiral imagery as demonstrated in many facets of nature, such as the solar system, galaxies, and the flow of water.  Dr. MacPhail’s discussion of the spirals or life cycles and her relationship with Ma Kali (Divine Mother) was very rich, powerful and intriguing.  Dr. MacPhail’s interview was very timely as I just came back from the Durga Puja festival yesterday.

Dr. MacPhail’s interview led me to reflect of my own life cycles and their impact on my biological, psychological and spiritual development.  Hope this post inspires readers to reflect on their own “spirals” or life cycles as we come closer to the end of this year and start of 2024.





 It can be accessed by anyone who has academia membership.
This is for anyone who is not a member of Academia.





Art Institute of Chicago. Swami Vivekananda and His 1893 Speech. 

Brenner, A. (2015). Shape of your Life: The Spiral Process. Psychology Today.,evolution%2C%20humanity%E2%80%99s%20developmental%20climb%20to%20realize%20heightened%20consciousness.

Jaya, N. (2021). Many Faces of Divine Mother. Ananda India.

MacPhail, J. C. (2010) A Spiral Life. Xlibris Corporation.

MacPhail, J. C. ( 2020) Swami Vivekananda’s History of Universal Religion and its Potential for Global   Reconciliation. Cook Communication.

Rajhans, S. G. (2019). Goddess-Durga.



Interview with Dr. Carolyn Torkelson: Holistic Health Beyond Menopause

Menopause refers to the process of cessation of menstrual periods in women, marking the end of the reproductive years. What does post menopause mean? Dr. Traci C. Johnson (2022) defines post menopause as a time  in a woman’s life after she stops having menstrual periods for 12 months. Carrie Madarmo (2022) estimated that there will be over 1.1 billion postmenopausal women in the world by 2025. That is a lot of women. According to Katherine Lee (2021), there are increased health risks that women in post-menopause may experience, such as, increased weight gain, heart disease, osteoporosis, urinary tract infections, and urinary incontinence.  It is again important to note that each woman’s experience of post menopause is influenced by her unique biological, sociocultural and spiritual factors. Given my journey in starting to navigate  post menopause, I came across a phenomenal guidebook, Beyond Menopause: New Pathways to Holistic Health by Carolyn Torkelson, M.D.  and Catherine Marienau, Ph.D. I love the book’s holistic approach to post menopause by exploring the multitude of issues related to biological, psychological, social, cultural  and spiritual shifts in women. Drs. Torkelson and Marienau discuss  keys ideas, such as, developing a “web of wellness”, “harmonizing body, mind, and spirit”, self-awareness”, “self-compassion” and “self-advocacy” in a health care system which may not optimally address different health issues of women in post menopause. 

This post consists of my interview with Dr. Torkelson. I found her to be very knowledgeable, passionate about her area of expertise, interpersonally warm and unique in terms of her training and experience in holistic or integrative medicine. She started her career as a nurse practitioner in a holistic clinic, and then, attended medical school with a focus in preventative care and holistic health. She practiced family medicine for ten years, and then, joined as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. She also completed her masters degree in clinical research and conducted studies on integrative medicine. She  is a pioneer in integrative medicine because she discussed that there was no formal training in integrative holistic medicine when she started her career and therefore, she actively explored this area and became involved with the American Holistic Medical Association. I found it particularly intriguing that she studied indigenous healing approaches, such as, Native American healing systems,  Tibetan medicine and also worked in Guatemala. Dr. Torkelson is currently an adjunct associate professor at the University of Minnesota. I am super excited to present my interview with Dr. Torkelson on post menopausal women’s health through a holistic perspective and the importance of implementing evidence based changes in women’s lifestyle in promoting wellness rather than only focusing on disease -centric model of addressing symptoms.  I very highly recommend this book. I love her discussion of the five pillars of health: restoration and sleep, nutrition and digestion, movement and exercise, emotional well-being (“healing power of love” and “listening to our body, emotions, thoughts”) and connection to others. This book also has chapters on multiple critical areas, such as, balance, sleep, weight issues and diet (“viewing food as medicine”), alternative healing techniques, anxiety, fatigue, hormone replacement therapy, sexual health, and brain health. The book addresses the important areas of nurturing the mind, body and spirit. Much gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Torkelson in her generosity for doing the interview and sharing her wisdom and knowledge.






I agree with Dr. Torkelson that post menopause may be a prime time of growth and self actualization for women, especially emotionally and spiritually. Psychological changes in post menopause vary, such as, shifts in identities, roles, relationships, body images, jobs, finances, grief and loss issues related to life transitions and sociocultural factors which impact aging women, especially in  our American  culture that is obsessed with youth. People’s chances of navigating  life transitions effectively are likely to increase when the number of their resources for coping and protective factors are greater than their risk factors. Spiritual factors, including relationship and encounters with the sacred, can serve as very powerful protective factors in finding new meaning, purpose and fostering resiliency in different phases of life. I feel that Drs. Torkelson and Marienau’s concepts of  “web of wellness”, “nourishing the body, mind and spirit”, “pillars of health”, and healthy relationship with self (self awareness, self-compassion,  and self-advocacy) and others can be helpful to any human being. I hope that this post encourages readers,  no matter your gender or age, to cultivate these concepts in promoting health and well-being.


Other very cool resources from the authors:  

Carolyn Torkelson

Podcast by Gail Zelitsky and Catherine Marienau






 Johnson, T. C. (2022). Your Health in Menopause.

Lee, K (2021).  5 Health Risks Women Face After Menopause.

Madarmo, C. (2022). Menopause Facts and Statistics: What You Need To Know.,there%20will%20be%201.1%20billion%20postmenopausal%20women%20worldwide.

Torkelson, C, & Marienau, C. (2023). Beyond Menopause: New Pathways to Holistic Health. CRC Press.






Are You There, GOD? It’s Me in Menopause…

The pairing of God and menopause hearkens back to the famous, bestselling  book, “Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret” by Judy Blume, where Blume explores tween related issues through the character of Margaret. Margaret is faced with menstruation (e.g. first period, sanitary napkins), her personal relationship with God ( without a particular religious affiliation) and boys. I love Margaret’s prayer notes to God about her various problems, such as, her father’s accident where she is worried about his finger being cut off by the new lawn mower, asking for help in “growing her bust”, questioning whether she should celebrate  Christmas or Hannukah, and visiting different churches and temples, as her parents have different religious backgrounds. I love Margaret’s raw honesty in expressing her feelings to God, especially, her frustration that she is “not normal” because she has no religion and has not started her menstruation. She even angrily breaks up with God for a while after both sets of grandparents try to force her to choose a religion. I relate to Margaret in some regards.  I, too,  formulate short email- like prayers (with capital letters and exclamation marks) in my mind during stressful times. Like Margaret’s prayer notes to God about her menstruation, I sent a lot of prayer emails during my struggles with menopause. The experience of menopause during the pandemic  hit me like a ton of bricks, kicked me in the butt and knocked me over.  Without getting too much into the meandering details of my own particular menopause experience, I found myself  physically, psychologically and spiritually shaken and stirred during my perimenopausal and menopausal experiences. Drastically different from the movie character, James Bond’s general philosophical approach to his turbulent adventurous life, “shaken, not stirred” (which is also how Bond prefers his vodka martini).

Like menstruation in the past, menopause is still very much a taboo topic. Please note that the experience of menopause is not monolithic. The World Health Organization (WHO)   views the experience of  menopause as influenced by biological, familial, psychological, social and cultural factors in each woman’s life. This blog post addresses menopause through the lens of the biopsychosocial-spiritual model of psychology. Menopause refers to the end of the menstrual periods in a woman’s life. There are many symptoms associated with perimenopause (before menopause) and menopause.  Whiteley and colleagues (2013) reported the following specific menopausal symptoms from women in their study: hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia/difficulty sleeping, forgetfulness, mood changes, decreased interest in sex, joint stiffness, anxiety, vaginal dryness, urine leakage, depression, and heart racing. Whiteley and colleagues (2013) collected data from the 2005 United States National Health and Wellness Survey of women in the age range of 40-64 years, where 4116 women in the sample experienced menopause compared to 4695 women who did not experience menopausal symptoms.  The WHO frames menopause as a public health challenge because, even though, half the world’s population experience symptoms related to perimenopause, menopause and post menopause, these symptoms are not openly discussed in many families, communities, work-places or health care systems. The Society for Endocrinology reported that 75 % or more of women experience symptoms of menopause and 25 % of women  report severe symptoms of menopause. In the Harvard Business Review, Alicia A. Grandey (2022) discussed the stigma of menopause impacting women in the workplace. It is also important to note that the time of menopause may also be a time that many women are considered for leadership positions in their work domains. Stefanie D’Angelo and colleagues (2023) conducted a research study of 400 women in the United Kingdom, who were working in their time of menopause, and found that one-third of the women reported difficulty coping with their menopausal symptoms at work. These researchers found that three symptoms, psychological factors of irritability, tearfulness, anxiety and depression, severe headaches,  and aches, pains in the joint, contributed to the most difficulty in coping at work.    Additionally,  Dr. Wen Shen and colleagues,  (2013) found in their study that out of 510 residents in obstetrical -gynecology training in the U.S, only 100 residents reported a formal menopause learning curriculum in their residency programs and 78 residents reported that they identified a menopause clinic to train further. This speaks to the importance of finding a physician who is trained in menopause as there appears to be alarmingly high numbers of physicians not trained in this area of menopause.

In my own journey of reading about menopause, I came across Dr. Dana E. King, Dr. Melissa H. Hunter and Jerri R. Harris MPH, ‘s (2005) book, “Dealing with the Psychological and Spiritual Aspects of Menopause: Finding Hope in the Midlife”. I found the book very informative, rich and impactful, especially due to the book addressing menopause through the biopsychosocial-spiritual lens. This book addressed the seismic psychosocial and spiritual shifts that may be  occurring in menopause, critical to explore and navigate effectively for the overall health and well-being of women.  Dr. King and his colleagues discussed  major psychological shifts that women may be experiencing during  biological changes, such as, facing the empty nest syndrome, taking care of elderly parents, grief , loss and regrets,  shifts in partnerships where their partners may be experiencing their own “midlife crises” and difficulty managing menopausal symptoms with work demands, especially, in work places with minimal support. Dr. King and his colleagues addressed the sociocultural factors impacting women in midlife, such as, overall stereotypical  images of psychological and physical decline in aging women. The authors argue that spirituality of women can serve as a powerful resiliency factor as women face many changes in midlife and develop new identities, explore meaning and purpose. I agree that women develop spiritually with wisdom and excellent skills to navigate life as they age.

I am very honored to present my interview with Dr. King, a family physician, researcher, and prolific author in women’s health and spirituality . He retired as professor and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at West Virginia University School of Medicine. He was an associate professor of Family Medicine at Medical University of South Carolina, completed an academic fellowship at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and received his medical degree from University of Kentucky. I was struck with Dr. King discussing that although he is a male physician, he learned much about menopause by listening to  his female patients and co-authors.  I very highly recommend the book as it also lists numerous resources for women dealing with menopause. Please see video link for my interview with Dr. King. Much gratitude to Dr. King for his generosity in sharing his knowledge and wisdom with compassion.

Video Link for Interview:

Interview with Dr. King


Concluding Thoughts:

Margaret Simon, Judy Blume’s character, renews her conversations with God in the final chapter after she starts her periods.  Margaret writes, “Are you still there God? It’s me, Margaret. I know you’re there God. I know you wouldn’t have missed this for anything!. Thank you God. Thanks an awful lot….” (p.171). Like Margaret, I am deeply grateful that God or the Divine Source got me through the menopause mess I was in. Also a big thanks to my doctors, nurses, family and friends for all their support.




Blume, J. (1970). Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret …,  Atheneum Books.


King, D. E., Hunter, M. H. & Harris, J. R. (2005). Dealing with the Psychological and Spiritual  Aspects of Menopause: Finding Hope in the Midlife. The Hayworth Press, Inc.


D’Angelo, S., Bevilacqua, G., Hammond, J., Zaballa, E., Dennison, E. M. & Walker-Bone, K. (2023). Impact on Menopausal Symptoms on Work: Findings from Women in the Health and Employment after Fifty (HEAF) Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and  Public Health, 20(1), 295-312. doi:10.3390/ijerph20010295


Grandey, A. (2022). Research: Workplace Stigma Around Menopause Is Real. Harvard Business Review. real#:~:text=A%20recent%20survey%20of%20women%20in%20the%20UK,people%2C%20and%20just%20a%20third%20would%20disclose%20openly.   


Society for Endocrinology (2022). Evidence Based Recommendations on Menopause Management Advise Individualized Care.


Wen, S., Ducie, J.A.,  Altman, K., Khafagy, (2013). What Do Ob/Gyns In Training Learn About Menopause? Not Nearly Enough, New Study Suggests. John Hopkins Medicine.


Whiteley, J., DiBonaventura, MC., Wagner, J-S., Alvir, J. & Shah, S. (2013). The Impact of Menopausal Symptoms on Quality of Life, Productivity, and Economic Outcomes. Journal of Women’s Health. 22(11). 983-990. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2012.3719


World Health Organization(2022) Menopause. 









What’s Forgiveness Got To Do With It?

Forgiveness has a lot to do with freedom from painful emotional states which allows us to live and love well. Recent research studies in psychology have  found the beneficial effects of forgiveness on emotional and physical health.   The concept of forgiveness is discussed in various spiritual and religious traditions. I came across Dr. Fred Luskin’s fascinating research on forgiveness training,  a particularly important topic of intersectionality between psychology and spirituality.  Forgiveness skills exemplify the concept of “practical spiritual practices”, which may enhance well being. Thus, I am very excited to present my interview with Dr. Fred Luskin regarding his phenomenal and impactful book, “Forgive For Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness”. Dr. Luskin is the cofounder and director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project. He received his doctoral degree in counseling and health psychology from Stanford University and has done many years of work in forgiveness research. He is an acclaimed scholar, professor, psychologist and has written numerous  articles in academic journals.

I found Dr. Luskin to be very knowledgeable and wise with a sense of humor as he discussed his forgiveness research results. I was struck with his discussion that he started research on developing an evidence based skill set for forgiveness as he found that the field of psychology did not conduct much research on this important skill. By conducting his research, he discovered that forgiveness is a set of teachable skills which can lead people to let go of their suffering and pain in response to being wounded and allow people to gain some agency and freedom to navigate life intentionally without becoming prisoners of past hurts. He also clarified the misconceptions of what is forgiveness versus  what it is not. Forgiveness is not excusing, forgetting, condoning or minimizing past hurts. It does not mandate reconciliation with the person who hurt you. Dr. Luskin emphasized  that forgiveness is a choice that must be made by each individual without any duress. He normalized the experience of emotions, such as anger, frustration, rage, bitterness, deep sadness, anguish and suffering after being wounded. He discussed that these  emotions need to be acknowledged and processed through the passage of time in safe places  before the option of forgiveness is explored. I also loved Dr. Luskin’s discussion in the book that the wounding process often violates one’s rules and assumptions about life. He described the critical idea of “unenforceable rules”, which we all have, that are grossly violated in experiences of being wounded. Dr. Luskin discusses that when this state of inner emotional equilibrium is disrupted over extensive periods of time  by the past wound and  we are stuck in anger, we need to explore the option of forgiveness. I also love Dr. Luskin’s description that forgiveness is a resolution of the grief process when something happened that is not wanted or something that is desired did not happen. During the interview, we discussed that the grief process is universal but unique to each person based on diversity factors, like cultural and familial factors. Different people grieve differently. Grief and loss are deeply painful experiences of groundlessness due to intense negative emotions and questioning of the assumptions that we had about our lives and the world before the wounding experience or loss. I agree with Dr. Luskin  that  forgiveness work is for oneself and a critical process which contributes to  “inner peace” and “acceptance of life as it is”.

This post includes my interview with Dr. Luskin. I  firmly believe that forgiveness skills should be on the menu to explore in cultivating wellbeing.  I very highly recommend Dr. Luskin’s book “Forgive For Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness”.   He discusses conceptual models of interpersonal and self forgiveness, practical tools for forgiveness practice,  and stages in developing forgiveness skills. Dr. Luskin also discusses the health risks associated with chronic states of anger. He demonstrates vulnerability and compassion as he writes about his own wounding experiences which initiated his research on forgiveness training. I was also struck by Dr. Luskin’s friendship with the late Ram Dass, who is one of my favorite spiritual teachers. I love Ram Dass’s description of the “earth curriculum” that we, human beings, sign up for. Ram Dass characterizes the “earth curriculum” as including deeply contrasting experiences:  beautiful, awe-inspiring and wondrous moments versus dark,  horrific experiences filled with anguish. I completely agree with Ram Dass. The “earth curriculum” is rigorous and challenging at times, such that, we may sometimes stumble, fall and have to get up again and again.  As the biopsychosocial and spiritual model of understanding human beings is prevalent in psychology, I agree with Dr. Luskin that the spiritual dimension of human beings may offer the possibility of great resiliency and strength. Ram Dass (formerly known as Dr. Richard Alpert while a psychology professor at Harvard University) discussed that the spiritual dimension may help people transmute negative and painful experiences in the “earth curriculum” to narratives with underlying meaning and purpose. 

Hope readers find this post on forgiveness helpful. Many thanks and much gratitude to Dr. Luskin for taking the time out of his busy schedule to do the interview. Please see the link below for my interview with Dr. Luskin.

Interview with Dr. Fred Luskin: Forgive For Good


Concluding Thoughts

The tools of forgiveness can be powerful in allowing us to let go of our pain and suffering to past hurts from interpersonal relationships and give us freedom to enjoy the present moment. Dr. Luskin talks about forgiveness skills  freeing us of past hurts so that we can nurture healthy relationships with people who love and care about us in the present.  Self forgiveness is a key factor to self acceptance and self love. Forgiveness tools can allow us to live and love well. It allows us to seize the day (Carpe Diem).

The cultivation of forgiveness in self and interpersonal relationships is critical to enhancing the art of “relationship yoga”, coined by Ram Dass. I love Ram Dass’s discussion of yoga of relationship as grounds for spiritual and psychological development. Forgiveness can be an important tool in facilitating the equanimity produced by yoga practices within the context of relationships.


Note: This is not a therapy site. Please seek professional medical and mental health services, as needed.




I am very honored and excited to present my interview with Mr. Jason Stephenson. I discovered his powerful and soothing sleep meditations in 2020 when I was struggling to sleep some nights during the COVID-19 pandemic. Zara Abrams (2021) wrote an informative article in the Monitor in Psychology through the American Psychology Association regarding the link between sleep and physical and mental health. Abrams (2021) discussed the rise of sleep difficulties many people experienced during the pandemic and noted many factors may have led to this phenomenon, such as, blurring of boundaries between home life and work due to virtual workdays, more stress, uncertainty, limited social support, disruption in routines, more screen time, and increased alcohol use. Additionally, Leah Campbell (2021) wrote a powerful article in Healthline about a phenomenon called “coronasomnia” (sleep difficulties during the pandemic). It is important to note that there are many different approaches and treatments to enhance sleep quality, quantity and routine.

I am deeply grateful to Jason Stephenson for his sleep meditations and sleep stories because they helped me immensely to sleep soundly and peacefully. Now his meditations are part of my nightly ritual before sleep. This post consists of my interview with Jason Stephenson. As I did some research about Jason’s background, I found him to be immensely popular. He is the founder of Relax Me Online Australia. Jason Stephenson’s Sleep Meditation Music you tube channel has 3.01 million subscribers with 879 videos. His you tube channel records 789,408,373 views. He talks about sharing a “peace” of his life with viewers and his goal is to help people cultivate “immense harmony” in mind, body and spirit. He has been a meditation teacher and practitioner for many years. I am also impressed by his commitment to public service as many of his sleep meditation online videos are free. Despite his success and popularity, I found him to be very humble, authentic, composed, and wise beyond words. I am tremendously honored to interview him. Again, I have much gratitude for his sleep meditations and how positively they have impacted my sleep.





I am struck by how Jason gently and compassionately invites listeners to participate in deep breathing and body scan exercises, and sensory engagement to be in the current moment. Jason’s meditations calm me to implement mindfulness practices, especially nonjudgmental observation of the unruly nature of my erratic “monkey mind”, which is often focused on anything, but the present moment. Jason’s narration of sleep stories is marked by vivid, beautiful, calming visual imagery, affirmations of an individual’s inner wisdom. For me, Jason’s sleep meditations facilitate my surrendering process into the sleep journey as a safe and sacred experience in a kind and compassionate Universe.



Abrams, Z. (2021, June 1). Growing concerns about sleep. Monitor on Psychology 52(4), American Psychological Association. ttps://

Campbell, L. (2021, March 1). “Coronasomnia: How The Pandemic May Be Affecting your Sleep”, Healthline. be-affecting-your-sleep

Stephenson, J., Sleep Meditation Music.







There is agape love in the world. People doing heroic things and saving other people’s lives  with no personal gains. I have an unique story of agape love that saved my father’s life. My family and I celebrated Ramananda (Ram) Ganguly, my father’s eighty first birthday yesterday. He is a powerful influence in my life. He sent me an article that was posted in the website ( on April 1, 2023. This post is Ram’s article  about his journey from Virginia to California after immigrating from Kolkata. The article is transcribed by Amitabha Bagchi. I have posted the article for the blog with Ram Ganguly’s authorization. For me, this article is an affirmation of the goodness and kindness in most human beings, which I am a firm believer in. Whether one believes in the Divine Source or Divine spark within people, people are generally good and have tremendous capacity for agape love.  This gives me hope as we live in difficult times.



“I must say I am not much into miracles and supernatural stuff. I have limited faith in a Supreme Being. But I am convinced that angels were looking after me on that fateful trip from West Virginia to California late in 1985.

First a bit of the background to set the context. After graduating in 1963 from the School of Mines in Dhanbad, I went rapidly through post-engineering training, practical experience (by working at coal mines) and a government-administered Competency Test to become a colliery manager in the Raniganj coal belt. Life was indeed good until the Government of India (GOI) decided to nationalize coal mines over a two-year period (1971-73). The impact on me was immediate and severe: I lost my managerial position, had a substantial pay cut, and lost most of my perquisites.

I bounced around for the next six years between field jobs — in and around mines — and a desk job in Ranchi. In 1979, I was made aware of, and then applied successfully for, an engineering position at the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM). I joined the company as a Senior Design Engineer at an attractive salary. Also in late 1979, my sister, who had emigrated to California, sponsored me and my family for Green Cards so that we might come to the United States as immigrants.

I joined ZCCM in a very pretty part of northern Zambia with excellent weather. The one issue, though, involved children’s education. There was a local English language school that went up to grade 6. After that, the mining company supported all-expense-paid education (including managed travel) for schooling anywhere abroad for the employees’ children. I sent my daughter, our eldest child, to a boarding school in Kodaikanal. In 1985, when the time came for me to think seriously about sending my two boys to attend, say, the Mayo College in Ajmer, I decided to take a break and come to the USA.

In July 1985, I came with my family to Los Angeles where my sister lived. I found menial work and sent out oodles of applications to American mining companies with no success. I decided to buy a car and, at the suggestion of a friend, drove to and through the mining country of the US: Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Virginia. Little did I realize that my long 22-year experience in mining — most of it in a senior capacity – would count for so little in America. My efforts from October through mid-December yielded just two job offers at an apprentice level in coal mines!

Finally, around December 15, a friend of mine told me of a vacancy at the Department of Mine Safety in Charleston, West Virginia. I managed to land an interview with the Chief Mining Engineer on a Thursday of the week before Christmas. The interview went so well that I got a verbal job offer, subject to medical test, to be followed by a written offer with salary. My luck was beginning to change at last!

That Friday evening began a downpour that was incessant, and it came on the heels of the 1985 Election Day Floods ( – also known as the Killer Floods of 1985. Taken together, they were the worst floods in West Virginia in 100 years and led to widespread property destruction and considerable loss of lives. The Governor declared a state of emergency and froze all hiring by the state government. I heard about it on the Sunday evening newscast.

The Chief Engineer called and confirmed the news on Monday. He told me to come back in one year. I was completely heartbroken. I decided then and there that there was no hope for me in the mining industry in the USA. I started my trip back to California with a heavy heart.

1. Somewhere Past St. Louis, Missouri

It was a dreary, miserable day when I drove past St Louis on my way back to California. The sky was overcast and the atmosphere raw with a sense of foreboding.

I was some distance past St Louis when it began to snow – slowly at first, then steadily and with greater intensity. I had no prior experience of driving in snow. I tried to do the best I could, going slowly and carefully.

Suddenly, the car sputtered and showed signs of stalling. That too was a new experience. With a lot of effort, I moved to the side of the highway when the car stopped completely. I was marooned in a sea of white, pristine snow.

I looked around. Not a soul anywhere – no car in sight. Only a dim light was visible in the distance. The choice before me was grim: freeze in the car or go out to seek help. Choosing the right option was a no-brainer.

I stepped out of the car and began walking toward the distant light. My clothing was fit for Kolkata or California. With only a light jacket, without a hat or gloves, I was clearly ill-equipped to face the brutal Midwestern winter.

I trudged through the accumulated snow for maybe 10 to 15 minutes. By the time I reached the light, my hands and feet were frozen, and my face was numb. It turned out to be a garage for repairing automobiles. The garage was closed, and the light came from the door of the adjacent room or office. I did not have the strength to lift my hand to knock on the door; I banged my head on it instead. A tall man opened the door, and I literally collapsed in his arms.

The man lifted and deposited me gently on the floor. He covered me quickly with several blankets, then put his hand under it to gently massage my chest. Some minutes passed before I was warm and conscious enough to speak.

I saw that there were two mechanics. They had shut down the garage and were getting ready to go home. After I had recovered somewhat from hypothermia, they fed me warm milk. They showed me the refrigerator and the bathroom and told me I should spend the night there. The room had a fireplace which, they assured me, should keep me warm through the night.

“You know how to put a log in the fire?” my savior asked.
I stared blankly at the roaring fire in the hearth. I did not have a clue.
“I will put enough wood to last through the night.” The man’s voice was reassuring. He could understand my helplessness.

The two men left and came back sometime later with food. I was famished and took no time to wolf down the fare on offer. Thus refreshed, I began to worry about my car. The mechanics told me not to worry. Nothing would happen to it overnight in the snow. They would look into the car’s problem in the morning.

The next morning, my car was towed to the garage. The problem lay with a frozen radiator. You do not need anti-freeze in Southern California, but the Midwest in wintertime is a different matter. The two guys fixed it – replacing damaged pipes and all – and led me to the now running car.

I offered to pay them money for labor and parts.

“Don’t worry about it,” was their reply. They were happy that they could nurse me back to health from near death. “Just drive,” they quipped, “and do not stop until you reach California!”

2. Amarillo, Texas

It was early evening of Christmas Eve when I drove into Amarillo, Texas. Spotting a motel with a “Vacancy” sign. I made a beeline for it and went inside with a feeling of relief.

The young woman at the desk startled me with her greeting: “You poor bastard!”
“What was that?” I said, mildly flustered.
“You realize you won’t get any food in town?”
“Oh, really? But I am starving.” My voice cackled with anxiety.
“You pay for a room and get settled. Let me see what I can do after that,” said the receptionist.

I paid and got a room. There were not many guests in the motel. The young woman shut down the reception area and left. I was left to ruminate on the situation. Back in 1985, there were very few stores and restaurants that were open the night of Christmas Eve.

Later that evening, the young woman came back with a plate heaped with food. There were poultry and ham, mashed potato and sweet potato, pasta and vegetables. It was sumptuous as well as delicious — easily one of the best dinners of my life.

When I offered to pay for the food, the young woman refused. She looked sincerely pleased having shared her family’s Christmas feast with a complete stranger. Hers was an instance of generosity and warmth that is forever etched in my memory,

3. Epilogue

As I look back and reminisce about that drive from the East Coast, two thoughts come to mind. The first is one of horror to contemplate what might have happened to me. The second is a sense of relief and gratitude at the Midwestern hospitality that I received. I cannot be sure about angels in heaven, but I surely ran into flesh-and-blood angels in the Midwest on that return trip to California.

Luckily for me, my story has a happy ending. I gave up on my plans to continue in the field of mining and enrolled in classes on computer software. I was still a quick study, found the area interesting, and transformed myself in a short period of time from an unemployed mining engineer to a happily employed software engineer and manager”.

Source: Ramananda Ganguly (April 1, 2023)

Trranscribed by Amitaba Bagchi





Finding Hagar: God’s Pursuit of a Runaway

I recently read Dr. Michael F. Kuhn’s brilliant book, “Finding Hagar: God’s Pursuit of a Runaway”. Dr. Kuhn has lived for about 25 years in different parts of the Middle East (Egypt, Lebanon) and North Africa. He is a professor, scholar, and a prolific author. He is a highly accomplished person with a Master of Divinity and a Masters in Arabic language and literature. He completed a doctoral degree in the field of Muslim-Christian relations. He was a professor of discipleship and Biblical theology at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Lebanon and teaches as an adjunct faculty at the Fuller Theological Seminary. He is an elder, teacher and pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

This post is regarding my interview with Dr. Kuhn. I had the honor and privilege of interviewing Dr. Kuhn regarding his book. I found him to be very kind, generous and erudite as he brought to light the importance of Hagar, who briefly appears in the Bible. Dr. Kuhn’s writing is clear and concise, with clear arguments depicting Hagar’s story with compassion and wisdom. In his writing, Dr. Kuhn challenges us to reflect on our interactions where we may be labeled as “others” and with people that we may consider “others” in our lives. This is an essential point given that we are currently living in a deeply divided country and a fractured world.

Interview Transcript on “Finding Hagar: God’s Pursuit of a Runaway”

Dr. Michael Kuhn (M.K.)
Dr. Anindita Ganguly (A.G.)

A.G. : Welcome, Dr. Kuhn to the blog, GOD, and i. I very much appreciate your generosity in discussing your phenomenal book, “Finding Hagar: God’s Pursuit of a Runaway. Much gratitude for your patience as we had major hiccups in technology today. I was struck by your description of the story of Hagar in the Bible as a “love story” between Hagar and God. Having attended catholic school for years, I have heard about the story of Hagar. However, given your background in studying Arabic language and literature and living for many years in the Middle East, you have a very nuanced and compassionate view of Hagar and Ishmael, as blessed abundantly by God, not cursed. You describe Hagar and Ishmael’s story as a prequel to the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt.
I was also struck by your discussion of God Is Love, which I agree 100%. I also loved your view of your work with other people through the relational framework of love. Another powerful reason that I read your book on Hagar was because most people, including myself, have experienced being the “other” but not so severely marginalized as Hagar. We also encounter people that we categorize as “others” or “Hagars” in our lives. There are so many diversity factors in life, where people can be in the category of the “other” based on their ethnic backgrounds, politics, religious views, languages and cultures.

Please tell me about yourself and how this book on Hagar developed.

M.K.: I am very privileged to be interviewed. I am an American and I grew up in North Carolina. My journey included living in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. I lived for years in Arabic speaking countries, such as, Egypt, Lebanon and Morocco. I am a follower of Jesus and went there as a witness and servant of the church. I know that readers of the blog have faith perspectives very different from mine. While living in other countries, I was the outsider or other and I wanted to be included in the culture. I saw the generosity of these people and beauty of their collective culture and importance of the extended family. During my visits to the US after 9/11, I saw westerners and Christians fearing the Muslim world. There was a broad-brushing of the Muslim world as consisting of fundamentalists, which is unfair and untrue. Therefore, I wanted to write about my enriching experiences of interacting with people in the Middle east. I was interested in talking about the story of Hagar as she is the symbolic mother of the Muslim people and Ishmael is the symbolic father of the Muslim people.

A.G.: What is the story of Hagar and Ishmael?

M.K.: The story of Hagar and Ishmael is in the book of Genesis in the Old Testament or Book of Torah. Hagar was the Egyptian slave of Sarai, wife of Abraham. Sarai was not able to bear children and therefore, she had Hagar bear a child for Abraham. This may seem very odd in our current times, but, in those ancient times, it was customary that if a woman could not bear children, the servant of the woman could bear children for the family. Hagar had a son, Ishmael, with Abraham. However, there was jealousy between Sarai and Hagar and Hagar looked down on Sarai after Hager became pregnant. Sarai was abusive to Hagar. In the chapter of Genesis 16 in the Bible, Hagar’s flight is depicted as she runs away from the abusive behaviors of Sarah. During her flight in the desert, Hagar, a pregnant and runaway slave encounters a Being, The Angel of the Lord.

A.G.: It is profound and beautiful that Hagar, a nameless person owned by Sarai, names this Being as “El Roi”, the God Who Sees and Hears”. In this encounter, God knows her and calls her by name directly as she is not referred by her name in the story thus far. I think that to be seen and heard fully is being loved in relationships.

M.K.: A severe form of depersonalization and dehumanization is when someone’s name is cancelled. The narrator tells us that her name is Hagar, but she is referred to as “servant of Sarai” until she encounters God in the story. When Hagar encounters God, He named her and asks her where she is coming from and where she is going. This is a God who asks a nameless, runaway slave about her dreams and aspirations. This is a slave that is cast out by society.

A.G.: As a psychotherapist, I find this story of God seeing, hearing Hagar and naming her as very powerful. I see the power of listening as critical to the healing process. The power of listening creates safe spaces of dignity, respect, and agape love, where one is a witness to someone’s experiences. This is a God who sees, hears, and listens to Hagar, unheard and unseen in all aspects of her life. This resonated with me. God’s Grace is for everyone.
You also discuss in your book that the Angel of the Lord, whom Hagar encountered in the Old Testament, was Christ in pre-incarnate form, before He incarnated into flesh as a human being. In the New Testament, Christ in incarnated form, was radical is that he reached out and interacted with marginalized people. That is one thing I love about Christ was that he was bold and fearless in reaching out and healing people that society deemed as outcasts, such as, the woman in Samaria. Christ shook up society, culture, and religion. He fiercely challenged dominant institutional power structures in his times and championed the marginalized people. Christ deeply experienced marginalization in human form as He was born in a manger and crucified mercilessly.

M.K.: Being seen and heard is critical to healing. I have family members, who are therapists, who emphasize that being heard and seen in relationship are important in healing as we are often wounded in relationships. Hagar is valued and given dignity in her interaction with the Angel of the Lord, who I believe to be the pre-incarnate Christ. In his incarnate form, he interacted with the woman from Samaria who was estranged, shamed, unable to bear children, passed from man to man. Christ told her “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father… 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (Bible, John 4: 23- 24). I believe this opened a space for this woman to belong and to worship, something she had not experienced before. Christ created this welcome for persons who were alienated and estranged—Hagar in the Old Testament and the Samaritan woman in the New Testament. His invitation is open to everyone to know God through God’s personalized love.

A.G.: I have questions about the section where you write that Hagar’s story points to the “uncomfortable reality” in all of us. You discuss beautifully that like Abraham and Sarah, human beings are complex and we have conscious and unconscious biases or conditioning from our environments. We have both social identities of marginalization and privilege which may lead us to form stereotypes of “others” and interact with “others” as less than us. We may have difficulty seeing ourselves in the humanity of “others”. I know that when I have been seen as the “other” in my life and experienced generosity, compassion, and kindness from people, I am very grateful for the grace.

M.K.:. God is very inclusive in His Grace towards all kinds of human beings. However, as human beings, we may have difficulty accepting people, who we define as “others”, like Hagar. Hagar was definitely a threat to Sarai because Hagar, a slave, bore Abraham a son, which Sarai was unable to do until this time. In Hagar’s encounter with God, who sees and hears her, she feels valued, acknowledged and loved and begins to heal. Her identity is no longer from her history of slavery and servitude, but, rooted in her relationship with God. Perhaps, this healing process allowed Hagar to go back and serve in the house of Abraham and Sarai.

Hagar gave birth to Ishmael. When Ishmael was in his early teens, Sarai gave birth to Isaac. After the birth of Isaac, Sarah’s jealousy for her son was aroused by an incident between the two boys. She asked Abraham to cast out Hagar and Ishmael in the desert. The Biblical story is very poignant. Hagar weeps. Exhausted and thirsty, she lays her son under a desert shrub to die. She moves away so as not to see Ishmael suffer. The Angel of the Lord spoke to Hagar, saying: “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” (Bible, Genesis 21:17-18). Hagar had once been “under the hand” of Sarai as a slave. Now her own hand, as a free woman, is to bring life and health to her son. As the story concludes, God shows Hagar a well and she gives Ishmael water to restore his life.

A.G.: God blessed Hagar as a free woman. What about Ishmael?

M.K.: Hagar and Ishmael were not cursed, but abundantly blessed. Ishmael became the father of a nation of 12 princes, just as Israel had 12 tribes. He was also given his own land as were the twelve tribes of Israel. Abraham becomes the forefather of Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities.

A.G.: So, Hagar and Ishmael were blessed and prospered. You talk about some misconceptions about Ishmael.

M.K.: The Angel of the LORD tells Hagar that Ishmael will be a “wild donkey of a man ; his hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; and he will live to the east of all his brothers” (Bible, Genesis 16:12). We usually think of a donkey as an insulting word, stubborn and unwise. Unfortunately, contemporary readers often read this passage as an insult to Ishmael. Some even refer to this passage as a “curse.” I think this is an unfortunate misreading of the text. The word used for donkey is not the common “beast of burden” which is often used to insult others. In this passage, the donkey in question is the desert donkey of the Middle East. This animal is a sturdy survivalist, a master of the desert, independent and freedom loving, not subject to human domestication.

Furthermore, some read the promise that Ishmael will live “opposite (or east of) his brothers” as a promise of continual enmity between the descendants of Ishmael and the twelve tribes of Israel. But this, again, is a misreading of the text. Quite simply the text says that Ishmael will live “before the face” of his brothers. That is exactly what happened as Ishmael’s tribes settled south of Israel in the desert land of southern Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Ishmael and Isaac were not enemies. In fact, the two sons buried their father Abraham together. The current geopolitical conflict in the Middle east should not be read back into the text of the Bible as is commonly done.

A.G.: Although I loved the book on Hagar, I struggled with the notion of how a loving God could command Hagar to go back to serve in the home of abusive Sarai. Abusive relationships are harmful to the mind, body, and soul of a person. It is never Ok to abuse anyone, and no one should have to endure abuse. My interpretation of this event of Hagar going back to Sarah’s house is not an endorsement of going back to an abusive place. I believe that this is a broader metaphor that sometimes when we face hardships in life, God sees and hears our cries and gives us the strength to walk through the challenging times to get to a better place. God blesses us in the peaks and valleys of our lives.

M.K.: Anindita, may I also add to your comment above. I agree that returning to ongoing abuse is ill-advised. In the case of Hagar, we have no indication that abuse was an ongoing feature in the household of Abraham and Sarai. It is more likely to be a single incident that led to Hagar’s flight in Genesis 16. It is clear that giving birth to Abraham’s son gave Hagar a place of honor in the family. It is also clear that Abraham loved his son Ishmael. He even pleads with God to let Ishmael be his heir after God informed him that Sarah would give birth to another son. Hagar, then, was the mother of the presumed heir of Abraham for 13 years (until Isaac was born). So I believe she returned to a protected place and an elevated status.

A.G.: Thank you  very much for the powerful book and the interview. Many thanks for your patience with the technology problems.

Concluding Thoughts

Dr. Kuhn’s book is powerful, insightful and challenges us in our interactions with “others” : that we stretch ourselves to see and hear perspectives of “others”, who are very different from us. This contributes to seeing parts of us in “others”, recognizing common ground to reach goals, which is helpful to collective humanity.



Dr. Michael Kuhn