About Cat Chapin-Bishop

An Island in an Ocean of Air

Baxter Peak. Dylan, 2011.

1979 in Williamsburg, Virginia was not an easy time or place to be gay. “There comes a time,” she said, “in all my friendships, when I have to decide. Do I tell, or do I not tell?” She stood at one side of a precipice, and she saw me on the other. I wanted to tell her, “I already know!” But I did not know how. [Read more...]


Two porcupines cross a road

A few years back, I accepted a challenge to commit to a “regular spiritual practice.” The terms of the challenge defined that as a daily spiritual discipline of at least twenty minutes. Unfortunately, the year that I took this on was an especially hectic one. Try as I might, I just could not clear any twenty-minute windows of time, other than my daily commute to and from work. And so, my daily practice of rolling meditations was born. [Read more...]

We Do Not Have to Be Broken

Quaker welcome sign

I forget, so often, that prayer–that communing with Spirit and with the concerns that are on my heart–is not a consolation prize, something to do when I don’t know what “real” work to do, or I’m out of the time or strength to do it. We don’t have to be broken. I don’t have to know how to fix us. I can do the easy work–I must not be afraid to do the easy work, the rewarding work, the joyful work which has been put into my hands. [Read more...]

Honoring an Ancestor


So today, on Samhain, I’ve been reminded of my longstanding sense of connection to Ann Putnam the younger, the second-youngest of the “afflicted girls” of Salem Village, and probably the most persuasive of all those who accused innocent men and women of witchcraft. Ann Putnam, today, this day that is sacred to those of my [Read More...]

A Love Letter


This is my love letter to the servant-leaders of the world. Being a leader, a real, true, leader, whose commitment is to the Beloved Community, often means being the one who sets the limits and holds the boundaries. The ache of leading does not mean you are failing; it means that you accept that your work is service, and you are trying very hard to do it right. [Read more...]

Yeah, It Really Is About Race

ferguson protesters

This story isn’t about Ferguson, Missouri alone. It’s about every city and every town in the United States. It’s about the way white Americans have never really cared to see the forest for the trees, have always preferred to hunt for some specific detail that will allow us to turn away, to deny, to pretend we don’t know. We need to reach out, center down, and begin. [Read more...]

What Do You Mean, “God,” Cat?

Sunlit Tree

As a Pagan, I learned to listen to the spirit within the parts, and of relationships among them. As a Quaker, I learned to listen to the Spirit within the whole. [Read more...]

On Privilege

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Schoodic Lake is beautiful. But too often, beauty seems either reserved for the very rich, or to come with a price tag of grinding poverty for the rural poor. Fewer and fewer people in my culture seem to have beauty in their daily lives. Yes, my grandfather worked hard for everything he got, and so did his four children. And I honor and respect that hard work. How could I not? But how many men and women have worked just as hard over the decades, and not been rewarded for that work? [Read more...]

Hands-On Worship

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What does it mean to worship a god or goddess of smiths, but never to have worked with iron or bronze? What does it mean to worship a goddess of the hearth, but never to learn to bank a fire to last through a winter’s night? How can we understand gods of brewing or hunting or grain if we never make our own beer, clean our own game, bake our own bread or grow our own food? [Read more...]

My Polytheistic, Mystic, Monist Heart

cilantro flowers

Setting aside thoughts on how lots of people seem to substitute a blind adherence to a creed, and wave allegiance to it like a flag of loyalty, I think there are real differences in how humans are drawn to religious experience or not–and, among those who are drawn to the spiritual encounter, how we perceive it. With the exception of those who would turn Mystery into an excuse for a tribal loyalty test, I don’t think these differences are moral in nature. It seems as though they simply are. [Read more...]