We are returning to our brief series of papers and podcasts devoted to the revelatory life of Joanne Greenberg. I hope you have had the time and interest to read her text Entry #050 “Mountain Top Author”, and to listen to her podcast Entry #051 “Swimming Lessons.” Both of these posts have extensive introductions which are worth reading as they convey some of the personal impact of the open exploration which is being with Joanne.
As I listen to this final podcast, I hear a group that has matured through its process of relationship with Joanne. We have clearly grown more comfortable with each other, which helps to create the environment where Joanne and we can really shine.
In this session, she poignantly reflects on her path of recovery from severe mental illness as the “Everest effect.” She and the group unearth several key themes and “points of essential knowledge” in this discussion, yet there is a theme in the background as a recurring echo. I hear this as the wisdom of not-knowing, of refraining from the urge to nail a human relational process down with intellectual force in order to explain how it works. Being awake in the process seems enough—enough for health and love and shared intimacy to bloom in their own way. Joanne shares the metaphor here that trying to nail down such an experience is like “nailing jello.” Through her decades of authoring novels, Joanne has come to embrace the mystery of metaphor as she cross-fertilizes meaning from disparate sources to weave landscapes of meaning. Here, she shares her hard-won perspective that “sickness is a rupture of metaphors, which is this reality we’re in.” By virtue of all she has faced through recovery, Joanne is now a master weaver of metaphor, helping us all to be more real.
I now invite you to sit down and join us, as we again talk things over with Joanne Greenberg. She ends our session with humor as she shares the “goblutz” story. Just hearing Joanne laugh makes all the effort of listening worthwhile.
"The Everest Effect"
Joanne Greenberg (born September 24, 1932 in Brooklyn, New York) is an American author best known for the bestselling novel I Never Promised You a Rose Garden, written under the pen name of Hannah Green. It was adapted into a 1977 movie and a 2004 play of the same name.
She received the Harry and Ethel Daroff Memorial Fiction Award as well as the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction in 1963 for her novel The King’s Persons, which was about the massacre of the Jewish population of York at York Castle in 1190. She was a professor of anthropology at the Colorado School of Mines, and also the author of an additional 20 novels, one of which, In This Sign, was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie called Love Is Never Silent. Joanne was also a volunteer firefighter and paramedic for approximately 15 years, and is a highly regarded, authentic voice of authority as a mental health advocate.
and author of 20 novels.
Her book, In This Sign, was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie called Love Is Never Silent.
Deborah Ruth Bronstein is Rabbi Emerita of Congregation Har HaShem in Boulder, Colorado. She is a pastoral rabbi with a strong commitment to social justice and those who live on the margins of society. The stigmatization of mental illness led Rabbi Bronstein to be a spokesperson in this area, advocating in religious and civic systems and serving on the boards of various shelters. Rabbi Bronstein has served as a board member of the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness (INMI), as well as the Rocky Mountain Rabbinical Council, the Midwest Association of Reform Rabbis, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis. In addition to working in the mental health arena, and she has worked to help South Sudanese refugees (“Lost Girls”) move to Boulder. She has also lectured locally and nationally on the role of parables and storytelling in social justice, in transcending crises, and in the creation of new spiritual worldviews.
Chuck Knapp, M.A., L.P.C., a student of Chogyam Trungpa and graduate of Naropa University, worked closely for many years with Dr. Ed Podvoll, originator of the Windhorse Approach. Chuck was a founding member and later director of Friendship House, which was a publically funded residential treatment home for people with extreme mental states. In 1990 he co-founded Windhorse Community Services in Boulder, Colorado, where he served as a Co-Director until 2019, and currently works as a senior clinician. Through his published writings, presentations at conferences, and as co-founder and coordinator of the Windhorse Journal in 2018, Chuck continues to share his interest in exploring mindfulness-based therapeutic environments for both individual and social wellbeing.
Jeffrey Fortuna received his MA in Contemplative Psychotherapy at Naropa University in 1980, and served on the Naropa faculty until 1989. In 1981, he co-founded the first Windhorse center, Maitri Psychological Services in Boulder, CO. From 1989 to 1992, Mr. Fortuna founded and directed a Windhorse group in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1992, he co-founded Windhorse Associates, Inc., and served as Executive/Clinical Director. In 2002, Jeff returned to Boulder as a co-director of Windhorse Community Services, Inc. He retired from his co-director role in 2013, yet continues to serve as a senior clinician and educator. He has taught widely, and written a book chapter and journal papers in the area of Windhorse treatment.
Got my responses mixed up, so this is for Swimming lessons, and what I said in swimming lessons is for here. I really connect with Joanne’s voice. She has a lot of insight into her own experience, and I can really appreciate her general confusion at how she got from where she was to where she is now. It must be incredibly challenging to go through what she experienced, and I like the metaphor of swimming, because we don’t really know how we go from drowning to swimming we just flail around and it starts working enough that we can keep our head above water. It’s also nice to hear how Joanne recognizes the challenges inherent in our mental health system and recognizes the limitations of that system as well as the limitations of the individuals in that system. I feel a certain balance in identifying that it is really hard work and that we can do it better and that even sometimes more understanding and care and improvement of our systems still isn’t enough to give each person exactly what they need – it’s hard.