Some Thoughts on Rumination Shared in Worship

by Mariellen Gilpin June 26, 2016

Rumination is a word therapists use that describes when a client goes over and over the same memory, time and time again. It is a metaphor, based on a digestive process. Grass is basically indigestible. When a cow eats grass, she chews it and chews it and swallows it. After awhile she burps it up and chews on it some more, swallows it again, then later burps and chews it some more. All of us have had experiences that basically are indigestible lumps, and we need to chew them many times over to find resolution.  Rumination is a healthy digestion process, which many therapists tend to use exclusively to describe an unhealthy psychological process. I want to reclaim the health in a process that is all-too-necessary when we have an unpleasant memory to deal with. Which leads me to ask, “How does a cow know when she’s chewed that indigestible lump enough to swallow it again? When am I chewing over that memory in a healthy way? How can I learn to tell the difference?”

This is a lifelong learning process.

What I’ve learned, so far, is to expect that it’s going to take lots of chewing to resolve an unpleasant memory. It helps me to write about the memory in my journal. What I’m working for is insight. When I can tell my feelings are starting to dig me into a deeper hole, I stop writing. I put the journal away, maybe a few days; maybe several months. When I am ready, I re-read what I wrote. Re-reading, for me, is labor-saving; I can read about the memory without having to feel every one of my feelings all over again. I can instead read until I spot where it was I started to spin my wheels last time, and then start my re-thinking process there. I’ve saved my time and energy for the next phase, for what can be a healthy psychological digestive process.

It is a lifelong learning experience.

Editor’s note: We are reminding Friends that the next Gathering of Friendly Mystics is September 30th  – October 2nd at the Cenacle in Chicago. Although the deadline has passed, we allowed a few extra spaces for late registrants. Contact Mike Resman if you are interested: <>

That’s Where You Belong

What Canst Thou Say is sponsoring two gatherings in 2016. The Western Gathering of Friendly Mystics in Berkeley, California was already held in February. The epistle from this gathering is on the WCTS blog < epistle-berkeley-california-february-4-7-2016>.

The second is the Fourth Annual Gathering of Friendly Mystics scheduled for September 30–October 3, 2016, at the Cenacle in Chicago. We are planning a weekend of sharing our stories, as we have done in the past three years, followed by one day of extended worship and worship-sharing. Deadline for registration is June 30. To increase your interest in coming to this gathering, we present the following essay by Lois Dinshah currently in production to be published in the August issue of What Canst Thou Say?
For those of you who have been to previous gatherings, you have met Lois and Roshan Dinshah. In the following, Lois tells the story or how she met and married Roshan.

That’s Where You Belong by Lois Dinshah

When I was six or seven years old, I would often sit at the foot of my bed, looking out my bedroom window and talking to God. My mother had taught me to say a bedtime prayer, and told me that I could talk to God whenever I wanted to.  When I was about nineteen, I started getting messages such as people are supposed to get during worship. I didn’t know about Quaker worship then, and didn’t learn anything about Quakers until I was an adult and had my six children. Also when I was nineteen, my mother told me bout the Light. Now this was not Quaker inner light, but it was the Light that is within everyone. I started using it for guidance and protection right away. Many years later I began using it for many other things, including healing, after I took classes in healing.

In 1962, Roshan and his brother Jay, and Jay’s wife Freya, were in San Diego, California, where I lived. I was in a group that went to Dr. Hohensee’s lectures about natural health and natural healing. He sold a vegetable and rice steamer for $50. I wanted one but couldn’t afford it. In those days, $50 was a lot of money. I had two young children. I’d divorced as soon as I could afford it.

The Food and Drug Administration put Dr. Hohensee in jail for “practicing medicine without a license.” Our group wanted to let the public know what happened. The leader asked for a volunteer to type up information on an electric typewriter and put it on a mimeograph to print and pass out to people. To use a mimeograph, one types on a page that has a film, something like a gel, on it. The typed letters leave an impression on the gelled paper so that the letters pick up the ink and put it on the paper you want printed. This was before copy machines. I had never typed with an electric typewriter before, only a manual typewriter. Electric typewriters went much faster than manual typewriters. I had never used a mimeograph, nor typed on mimeograph paper before. But no one else volunteered, so I did.

When I went to the address given to type the papers, Roshan met me at the door. Jay, who I was supposed to meet there, wasn’t home yet. Roshan took me to the typewriter and showed me the things I was to use. Then he left. I thought that he wasn’t very friendly. I didn’t know that he was working on a car in the back yard.

When Jay came home, we talked, and he asked if I was a vegetarian. I said, “Yes, but not the regular kind, because I don’t use white flour and white sugar.” He took me to the kitchen and said, “Hey gang, she’s one of us.” He didn’t know then how much one of us I would be. Jay’s wife Freya was there with someone else. While I was typing in the office room, I heard the group doing a religious service that was not like a regular church. I asked if I could join them, and got to know them somewhat.

The three of them left San Diego in 1963. I wrote to the three of them, and we corresponded for a while. Then Freya had Roshan write to me. We got to know each other much better by the letters we exchanged. Later Freya said that she played matchmaker.

It was during this time I got the message that something would happen June 20, 1965, that would change my life. I had also gotten the message before this that I would go east. I didn’t know how far east,  or where. On June 20 I listened for my phone and watched my mailbox. Nothing happened that day, or the next. Then I received a letter from Roshan asking me to marry him. He’d written the letter on June 20.

I didn’t know what to do. After putting the two kids to bed, I went out under the stars and sat on the kids’ swing and asked God what I should do. I heard the answer in my head: “That’s where you belong.” Not, “Yes, you should marry him.” Just, “That’s where you belong.” It is very rare that I hear something in my head. Usually I get an impression of the concept.

My father had been upset when I had a problem with my first marriage. My mother told me I should ask my father’s permission about this one, since that was what he’d said back then. I did ask my father. He acted as though it wasn’t necessary to ask him, since Roshan had a job and a place for us to live. It was a week before Roshan had a reply to his question. He later said it was the longest week of his life. I came to New Jersey early August, 1965, and we were married August 14, 1965.

Lois Dinshah has been a member of Mullica Hill Friends Meeting, in South Jersey, Salem Quarter, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, since about 1981.

Youth at Western Quaker Mystics Retreat

Youth Report by Miriam Fiorentino

The Youth Program Committee of Pacific Yearly Meeting sponsored youth to attend the Western Quaker Mystics Retreat held on February 4th-7th at Berkeley Friends Meeting. Miriam Florentino reports:

The Western Quaker Mystics Retreat, sponsored by What Canst Thou Say? held at the Berkeley Friends Meeting on February 4th through the 7th was a special time of gathering of individuals who came to share, be encouraged, and experience the Mystic way. I was fortunate and honored to be able to participate, thanks to your sponsorship and assistance. I was in awe of the vulnerability, openness,  trust, and deep listening that took place during this time together. I was reminded of how Spirit works and manifests in many different ways in people’s lives and grateful that Spirit moves and is ever present in our lives. I gleaned a deeper appreciation and importance of having communities to share and support in our spiritual paths. It was humbling to hear of folks’ stories and the courage they had in discovering, navigating, and understanding their mystical experiences and gifts. I felt the connection of ancestors laying spiritual groundwork for those who came after and appreciative of their faithfulness to listen and engage with Spirit. I was inspired while hearing these stories and felt held by the legacy of those who shared. It was profoundly meaningful to me to see the inter-generational nature of our gathering and the valuable asset of this shared space. The beautiful inner workings of these exchanges was grounding to my own experiences and a blessing to be able to see that I was apart of a larger community of mystics, however each person defined it. I felt heartened, as a young person, to continue to explore and be present in my own engagement with mysticism. I felt enlivened to convey and encourage other young people to share their spiritual stories and how beneficial doing so can open opportunities for growth and inquiry. I loved learning how Quakerism has a rich history of mysticism and felt that those who gathered were part of this heritage, though some of us came from various spiritual backgrounds.  I graciously thank the Youth Program Committee for sponsoring me, along with a few others, to be able to attend this gathering. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity and experience; I know it will be one that I cherish, reflect on, and continue to impact my spiritual journey.  Attached you will also find an epistle written by another attender on behalf of all those gathered to share with the larger Friend community about the conference.

In Peace and Light ~Miriam Fiorentino