Welcome! Thank you for visiting here!
I’m Cat (Cathleen) Charissage, a seeker and keeper of wisdom, a long time journal writer and inner explorer, and a student of the world’s wisdom traditions. I’m a contemplative educator, artist, poet, and counsellor in the depth dimension of life, that is, in creative and spiritual growth, including recovery from trauma. I’m also a mentor in self-directed education. I have degrees in theology and education, with 40 years of experience in working intimately with small groups and individuals.
My greatest joy is helping souls, including myself, to live out of the creative mystery of our lives, and to live gracefully within the paradoxes and challenges that life gives us.
In my first adult life I worked in social services as the Executive Director of a Sexual Assault Center, and as an educator and counsellor. Now in my second adult life, after becoming a mother at 40, I’ve home educated my son and attempt to live creatively with chronic pain and chronic illnesses. Now that my son is a young adult, I’m again working with others in transformational creativity, depth/soul work, and dream analysis. Having lived in several different cities in the U.S. and Canada, I now live in traditional Blackfoot territory in Lethbridge, Alberta with my spouse, Andrew, and son, Liberty.
So why Mysteries Unfolding? In my best moments, I look at life as many unfolding mysteries waiting for us to notice, inviting us to participate and savour this life. More than what we see on the surface, there is always more going on than what we fully understand. Rather than frustration, though, this can be a source of great pleasure and fulfilment.
Many years ago I had a professor, Sister Frances Stefano, who taught me that “mystery” is not necessarily something that we can never understand, but rather is something always unfolding. As we examine and come to understand one piece, the next piece offers itself for exploration. As that becomes known, another piece unfolds. The image that came to my mind immediately was that of a rose, or of a lotus, unfolding its petals in response to the angels whispering “Grow! Grow!” I began to see mystery as an apt metaphor for life, and further, to see metaphor as the basis for making meaning out of any particular life event, including all of life itself.
Many of us use the word “God” for that which is beyond, more than, outside of, creator of, source of, lover of, companion of our deepest self. And what can you really say about God at all, except “God!”? God is the word we use for that feeling of awe in response to the deepest of life’s experiences; that moment when love, or music, or art, moves us beyond ourselves, outside of ourselves, transforming our daily lives of limitations and details into wonder, silence, and love. God is also the word we use when we meet soul within, that which is deepest within us that is also somehow connected with the Magnitude outside of us. For me, the word “Mystery,” with the capital “M,” fits more comfortably than the word “God”. After decades of studying wisdom literature, I’m finding that whatever might be “out there”, what’s “in here” is certainly Mystery, unfolding. So, mysteries are unfolding, and Mystery is unfolding. And we make meaning out of all this by our wonderful use of metaphor. What’s a metaphor (meta-for)? To carry us beyond, to transcend. Perhaps it’s a means to merge what is deepest within to what is greatest without. Perhaps to the center of love. Mystery.
Living with chronic pain, I can understand how my life could become smaller and smaller to the point where all I am aware of is my body’s dis-ease. I will not live that way, to the extent within my control. I want to deepen my consciousness; I want to use my daily life’s experiences to sensitize me to others’ sufferings; I want to make meaning out of the challenges I face and what the world offers us each day. Please join me.
See also these three posts on Making Meaning, Making Soul, and Who are you? for more insight into my intentions for this site. To get to know me better, watch these two videos: “Poetry in Brushstrokes” https://youtu.be/1PzFI6GC0jI, (2019) a short feature on my painting made by Shaw TV, and my interview on my poetry with the Literary Corner of the New York Parrot https://youtu.be/XjB-C1IEaiw (2021).
“Humans make meaning the way spiders make webs; it’s what we do.” — Mary Catherine Bateson
What to expect here:
- chronicles of making meaning while living with great challenges
- my latest paintings and poetry
- explorations of how I and others plumb the soul depths of life
- reflections on books, quotes and thoughts from wisdom teachers