Traveling with the Turtle
A Small Group Process in Women's Spirituality and Peacemaking
By: Cindy Preston-Pile and Irene Woodward
Review By: FutureChurch member Barbara Litrell
For most of our recorded history, war and conflict seem to have defined our relationships to other people, other countries, even with our planet. We seem to forget that the earth was not given to us by our ancestors but is on loan to us from our children. Peace seems to be an unachievable reality; however, without being vigilant and constant about the peace process, we would probably self destruct.
Women are uniquely called to come together to be activists in peace process. The victims of war are overwhelmingly women and children and, as the authors note in Traveling with the Turtle, “women know that ending violence and discrimination against women is an integral part of peacemaking.” Traveling with the Turtle is an outstanding, all in one tool for empowering women to be leaders for peace. Cindy Preston-Pile and Irene Woodward have created an interesting, practical manual for women to become engaged in peacemaking efforts. The book is an excellent addition to the other resources provided by Pace e Bene to assist us in our journey of personal and social transformation.
Traveling with the Turtle guides women, through the small group process, to explore the values and practices of women’s spirituality and to see how these values and practices help women heal and make peace with themselves, in their relationships, in their communities and in society. The turtle is a rich and ancient symbol of women’s strength and wisdom and guides the imagery in the book.
The process, developed by women for women, is comprised of 13 two-hour sessions which include an introduction to women’s spirituality, empowering images of the Divine, claiming our power within, exploring familiar responses to conflict and violence, creative, non violent ways of making peace, ways to build inclusive communities, and the many social changes initiated by women. The 13-session process peaks with guiding the group to develop and carry out a nonviolent action and concludes with a celebration of our lives that commissions us to go forth and continue to make peace.
Complete directions and needed materials for every session are included for the facilitator. Each session follows a similar pattern including an opening ritual, sharing, reflections on life practice, journal questions or readings that pertain to the topic, and creative activities including sharing, guided meditations, role-play and movement. For example, in the first session in which participants get to know each other and explore the elements of women’s spirituality, the session concludes with the group creating a group sculpture, a still, nonverbal, pose. One woman is invited to enter the circle and choose a pose that embodies women’s spirituality for her. Then, other women are invited to join their pose with hers until a beautiful piece of group artwork is created.
The book is filled with similar creative ideas for each session. The book is based on the premise that women’s spirituality is a powerful force for peacemaking and the authors have clearly harnessed the force into a call for action.