It’s Soul Time Blog

No Woman is an Island Unto Herself

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“Our separation from each other is an optical illusion of consciousness.” ~Albert Einstein
Gabriola Island Photo

Gabriola Island, B.C. Canada

As I have gotten older, it has become unequivocally clear that Soul-honoring communities, such as our newly launched Soul Be – Friending Community of women are not only a good thing, but they are essential to the Soul Alive Journey.

In his book, The Hidden Wholeness, The Journey Toward An Undivided Life, Parker J. Palmer says:

“Solitude is essential to personal integration: there are places in the landscapes of our lives where no one can accompany us. But because we are communal creatures who need each other’s support – and because, left to our own devices, we have an endless capacity for self-absorption and self-deception – community is equally essential to rejoining soul and role.”

I knew better; I knew I should carefully navigate the knee deep water and the slippery rocks along the shoreline of beautiful Gabriola Island in B.C., Canada. I had done it many times. Yet, there I was sitting in seawater with my left knee pulled to my chest and my throbbing foot high in the air. The agony of pain bugled that there was no way I could stand up or even hope to walk. I looked around, left to right; there was no one. Even that majestic bald eagle who sat on a nearby rock a moment ago was gone.

Fear set in as I realized that all the women were probably on their way to the afternoon workshop session. I wished that I could take that last step back. Of course wishing it did not make it so. The reality hit hard: I’ve fallen; I can’t get up; and I am alone! I prayed, “Lord, help me.” I knew that I must keep my foot high to lessen the throbbing pain; I must stay upright and conscious to protect myself from further harm. At the time, I did not know that I would need a metal rod, plate, and five screws in my left ankle, but the pain told me that major damage had been done.

Time became a blur. How much time went by, I don’t know. I kept that awkward position; it seemed like forever. Finally, I saw a woman walking toward me and relief set in. It was Susan Glass, one of the four workshop’s apprentices. I knew her only in that role. She was one of the few women that I had not personally connected with yet.  We had been there for four and a half days — 34 women journeying together in a seven-day Body/Soul Rhythm Intensive, being led by the renowned Marion Woodman. The time had come for Susan and I to connect. She sat down, right behind me, straddling me in the mossy water, keeping me upright and my foot elevated. Then, she focused my breathing with hers, so I would remain conscious.  What was to happen next was not clear. It was clear, that her body/heart/mind (Soul presence) was keeping me company. I was still in physical pain, but not alone anymore.  This was a total God-send.

Fortunately, a straggler who was very late for the afternoon session saw us and went for help. Then, the other women learned what had happened and came to support us from the water’s edge. Several had first gone to my cabin, collected my wallet and I.D., knowing I would need them. The paramedics and ambulance were on their way. While waiting, Susan asked me if she could go with me to the hospital. I thanked her for all she had already done, but said I could go by myself. As they were putting me on the stretcher, she asked me this again, and before I could reply, I heard one of the leader’s from behind us say, “Of course, Susan, you go with her.”

Undeniably, I needed Susan to go with me — a fact that was repeatedly underscored in the several days to follow. Not only was Susan’s claiming physical presence a God-send for my body and Soul, but also so was her oversight of the practical details that I was in no condition to deal with on my own. I was in another country, injured, and in a lot of pain, struggling to stay conscious. I was put into an ambulance, taken on a ferry, then to an unknown, over-packed mainland hospital emergency room. I was examined and told that I needed reparative surgery on my ankle as soon as the doctor could get to me. In the meantime, they would keep me heavily medicated.

Gabriola Island Dock Photo

Gabriola Island Dock

Fortunately, being a Canadian, Susan was familiar with their medical system. She assisted me with the admission process, including insurance and surgery paperwork. She kept track of my credit cards, clothing, and jewelry [cross, wedding ring, and earrings], contacted my husband, updated him of my status until he could get there, and informed him of the special airline arrangements needed for our return trip home. She even made daily trips between the hospital and the island, making it possible for the women and I to stay connected as we completed our respective Body/Soul journeys. When it was time to go home, she made sure my suitcases were packed with the belongings left on the island and were delivered to the hospital.

So, why did I refuse Susan’s original offer? I was the one that carelessly miss-stepped even though I knew about the slippery rocks. I didn‘t want the workshop journey for Susan and the other women to be disrupted any further because of me. I was forgetting that my deeply ingrained, conditioned message of I must be independent was a lie — a lie born out of my early life circumstances. How could I forget my Soul’s truth? We all are parts of one living Body. Like exhaling and inhaling, we all are to serve as support givers and support receivers at various times.   

Marked by the visible signs of the hardware in my left ankle, this life lesson event (ten years ago) is a vivid reminder of how susceptible I am, as any of us can be, of reverting back to conditioned ways of thinking, feeling, and doing, particularly in times of crisis.

I will forever be thankful for Susan Glass’s Body/Heart/Mind presence. Her loving gift of support giving enabled me to fully embody being a support receiver. This is a lifetime gift. Thank goodness that within Soul-honoring communities, such as the Body/Soul Rhythm Workshop and Soul Alive Women’s Soul Be – Friending Community, we are reminded of what our Souls know: ‘No Woman Is An Island Unto Herself.’ 

May your Soul be blessed in ways that you, in turn, bless others. As always I invite your reflections, comments, and questions.

“Please remember it is who you are, not what you know.” ~Carl Jung
If you’d like to continue exploring this theme further, please take a look at my reference materials below.
Suggested Soul Practice & Reflection Questions:
Serving as a Support Giver AND Support Receiver
Suggested Book:
A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life – Welcoming the Soul and Weaving Community in a Wounded World
by Palmer J. Parker

© 2013 Susan A. Purnell


  1. Helen

    July 18, 2013

    Hi Susan, I am sooo glad to of had the opportunity today to check out your web site. Love it …. completely!!
    Wonderful work and cant wait to hear more! I will look forward to your next Newsletter.
    Helen Chavez

    • Susan A. Purnell

      Susan A. Purnell

      July 18, 2013

      Hello Helen, it is good to hear from you. Thank you for your affirming words. They mean a lot to me. I hope you are doing well and physically back to par. Happy bike riding. Much care to you – Susan

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