Robert had a skill for engaging in authentic conversations. Dialogues that focused on deeper truths rather than superficial preferences. He was a master at expressing himself and hearing others. Plus, he gave the most satisfying and nurturing hugs!
He brought clarity, love, spiritual depth, and genuine curiosity to his trainings, to his students, and to those in his intimate circles. I mourn that I will no longer interact with him in this life, and feel immensely grateful for the moments we shared. I mourn for his students, family and close friends who I am certain are heartbroken. May we all find ways to cherish his memory.
I am also mourning the loss of Queen Elizabeth II who died September 8th. Queen Elizabeth wore the Crown for almost 70 years. In that time, she did many things that historians will look upon with disdain and even horror, as well as admiration. I am not qualified to make a political statement, and I would not want to even if I could.
What I would like to say to you is that I have seen her as a consistent, powerful, and profoundly committed female world leader for my entire life. Her mere presence on the world stage inspired me to be brave and deeply committed to my beliefs and values. The unwavering commitment to her duty was astounding to watch from afar. Her demonstration of strength (though she was only one of a few female world leaders) was empowering to me. I did not strive to be her, of course; I simply and wholeheartedly enjoyed watching her.
Please know that I do not condone or even endorse her political actions. I fear that some who read this will think I agree with everything she did. I do not. I am not speaking of her accomplishments or failures at all. I am merely speaking about how it felt to see a female world leader.
Perhaps this will clarify why this has been so important to me…
Many years ago, when I was just 25 or so, I worked for a Catholic Nun named Sr. Katherine Grey who was the Vice President for Academic Affairs in a small Catholic college. I was her administrative assistant. She taught me to observe how women lead and to stop trying to mimic “male power.”
At the time, I carried a lot of disdain for nuns, seeing them as weaker than priests. I spent more time than I am proud of trying to be like men, thinking that that would catapult me to greater success and empowerment. I kept my hair very short and I wore pin striped suits and ties to work. I was miserable at this time of my life: unempowered, lonely, and painfully shy, with little self-compassion and respect. I thought being female literally meant being less valuable than men.
Sr. Katherine was the only nun and only female in the administration of this college and I saw other administrators try to dismiss her over and over again. I witnessed her stand her ground with grace over and over. I marveled at her strength.
In all honesty, I sometimes cringed when I saw her speak her truth because I had never seen women do this. Still, though it was uncomfortable, I watched her with unending awe as she survived (literally for me, mere survival was the bar I set) every single administrator I saw who expressed anger and exasperation when she didn’t capitulate.
After especially challenging meetings, she would call me into her office and talk about the various leadership styles in the meeting. I had no idea then how life-changing this would be for me. Through her mentorship, I began a lifelong process of watching world and local leaders— and finally to develop my own unique leadership style. I will always be grateful to Sr. Katherine Grey for this!
I hope this little vignette into my life adequately conveys how watching Queen Elizabeth II for the past 63 years has been so deeply meaningful to me. I long for more female world leaders, not because I think women are better than men, but because seeing women in positions of power supports me, other women, and girls to know and imagine our own personal power; because it inspires me and gives me hope that we will someday experience greater equality in our world, communities, and families.
Dear Robert and Dear Queen Elizabeth II, blessings to you. Thank you for being an inspiration to me and so many others. May you rest in peace knowing you matter.
With love, Mary