Habits of the Heart

Last night, at a school board retreat, our moderator brought a vase of apple blossoms. How do folks do things in other parts of the world? We sat in our basement school library and ate salad with lettuce from a member’s garden, and fruit and chocolate.

In many ways, I think our local Vermont boards are some of the few remaining hold-outs of democracy in America. We follow Robert’s Rules of Order; the work we do is legally-binding and keeps the school running. Every two weeks, I sign off on every dollar spent. But the work of a school board – like a family – is also dialogue, and sometimes profound dialogue.

So, when we arrived at the place in the evening where we spoke about holding tension and chaos in our lives, I had plenty to draw upon: mothering, writing, being human….

If we fail to hold tension… creatively, the non-stop contradictions of our lives will frighten us, paralyze us and take us out of the action. But when we learn to hold them in a heart-opening way, they may take us toward something new, from greater inner congruence to the expansion of our own understanding. We are imperfect and broken beings who live out our lives in an imperfect and broken world. The genius of the human heart lies in its capacity to hold tension in ways that energize and draw us forward instead of tearing us apart.

– Parker J. Palmer


Calais, Vermont

About Brett Ann Stanciu

A writer and sugarmaker, Brett Ann lives with her two daughters in stony soil Vermont. Her novel HIDDEN VIEW was published by Green Writers Press in the fall of 2015. Let my writing speak for itself.
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