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September 2016



A Conspiracy of Love



A Conspiracy of Quiet Reflection


When the sweet pea bush starts to bloom outside the Hermitage western door I know it won’t be long until Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara will be taking up residence there for five weeks each summer. She is the spiritual leader of the Village Zendo Buddhist community from NYC which arrives in late July and lives in the Phoenix, Cottage, Hospitality House and Hermitage until late August. The houses and grounds are transformed into places of contemplation and gentle mindful activity that mingles with the sweetness of summer flowers, the sound of songbirds and crickets and the delightful winking of fireflies at dusk.


Photo of 2016 Village Zendo Summer Ango, courtesy of A. Jesse Jiryu Davis.


The participants have an opportunity to enter into whole-hearted practice of meditation and study, laying the ground for compassionate and clear awareness of self and others. Each week there is a different focus. Precepts Week studies the ethical teachings for a good life, Dai Sesshin and Shuso Sesshin are intense periods of silence and meditation in everyday living, the Arts Retreat Week focuses on creativity through pottery and poetry; and always there is the shared experience of eating, sleeping, working and being in an intentional community.


For Grail members who staff the Center, the Zendo's presence is a call back to a contemplative life as we hold the space for the beautiful and profound work that participants practice throughout the swelter of a hot summer. The call to meditation echoes through the meadow several times a day and we are reminded of the inward call to intentional, mindful living amidst the ongoing work of maintaining the property and listening to the longings in our souls.


Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara gave us a copy of her book last year, "Most Intimate: A Zen Approach to Life's Challenges," where simple yet profound wisdom of her teaching is manifest. See it at  http://www.shambhala.com/most-intimate.html  

There is also a podcast of her closing talk of the summer ango at https://villagezendo.org/2016/08/20/roshi-the-work-of-the-scarecrow/ as well as other resources at the Village Zendo website: https://villagezendo.org/


A Conspiracy of Transformation


For more than 50 years, the Grail at Cornwall has held a place for women of spirit working for change to gather in a space of their own, to strengthen their resolve, to be encouraged and challenged by one another, to find both the sweetness and the fierceness of their lives and to step away for a time to gain new perspectives on their work and communities.


The Grail has made retreats for its own members for these many years, but the longest relationship of offering this space for other women’s group is with B’not Esh, an annual gathering of Jewish women movers and shakers, which has been meeting once a year at the Grail in Cornwall for 35 years.


B’not Esh, which is Hebrew for “Daughters of Fire,” is a Jewish Feminist Spirituality Collective that began in 1981 as a group of feminist, Jewish, literate women interested in exploring and creating a Jewish feminist spirituality. The group of 16 that met in 1981, grew to 26 in 1983, and has continued annually since then with women who travel from all over the country (and sometimes from overseas) for a long weekend.


Photo of original B’not Esh gathering at the Grail at Cornwall in 1981, courtesy of Judith Plaskow.


Their annual gatherings include Scripture study from feminist perspectives, discussions of feminist theory and practice, prayer, and especially the celebration of Shabbat together. Informed by current social and political issues, the participants grapple with the challenges of their own work and lives and the need for creating a transformed world where women’s spirituality has a place in Judaism and the larger society.


Over the years, the small group of women has had a significant impact on Jewish feminism and beyond. Through their work as rabbis, professors, therapists, authors, and community leaders, B’not Esh has contributed catalytic transformation in their faith communities and society at large.


A small sampling of the accomplishments of this powerful group of women can be explored in a book edited by co-founder of B’not Esh Sue Levi Elwell and Nancy Fuchs Kreimer, “Chapters of the Heart: Jewish Women Sharing the Torah of Our Lives” at http://wipfandstock.com/chapters-of-the-heart.html and at the Jewish Women’s Archives website at http://jwa.org/feminism/plaskow-judith and the latest book of co-founder of B’not Esh Judith Plaskow (edited with Carol P. Christ), “Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology”, http://fortresspress.com/product/goddess-and-god-world-conversations-embodied-theology .


This work converges with the longtime movement of the Grail in exploring theology from a feminist perspective, bringing the thinking and sensibilities of women into the public discourse of our culture and faith traditions. The Grail is immensely blessed and broadened by this long friendship with the women of B’not Esh.


Hand-painted home blessing given to the Grail by B'not Esh


A Conspiracy of Grace


Many church retreats have come to the Grail in Cornwall for time away, women’s retreats, family retreats, youth groups, and choirs.  The one I (Lucy) know best is the Park Slope (Brooklyn) United Methodist Church Women’s Retreat. I was a member there back in 1991 when the women first moved their retreat venue to Cornwall and I came to the Grail on those retreats for years until I moved out of Brooklyn to become a pastor in Columbia county.


Through many years and transitions in membership and leadership, but with continuity and creativity, the group has continued to want to come together for time out of family, careers, hectic city life – to play and to deepen friendships and to share secrets and new journeys in a safe and loving place.  Year after year, songs are sung, games are played, books are read, circles are danced, puzzles are solved, friends are pampered, ceremonies are shaped and God’s grace is recognized in and through each person.


Some Park Slope Methodist women enjoy the Hudson River at Cornwall during a recent annual retreat.


The women of the Park Slope United Methodist Church and the Grail have had a 25-year relationship—a conspiracy of grace that has enriched the Grail and each woman who has walked the halls and grounds of the Cornwall Grail.

You can find out more about the Park Slope UMC at http://parkslopeumc.org.




The Mundane Under the Miraculous


The latest addition to the Phoenix is a new washing machine, a source of excitement for those committed to keeping the house and contents sparkling clean! The summer ordeal of multiple efforts to repair the old machine finally ended with a quick new purchase and installation that was a relief to our Zendo guests as well as co-Directors Lucy Jones and Simonetta Romano.


In this Issue

~A Conspiracy of Quiet Reflection

~A Conspiracy of Transformation

~A Conspiracy of Grace

~The Mundane Under the Miraculous

~The Light Within: Summer Solstice

~Coming Events

~Good for the Heart, Good for the Earth

~What Goes Up Must Come Down



The Light Within: Summer Solstice


The Summer Solstice was celebrated on June 20 and led by Cornwall Grail Member Natasha Velasquez. We gathered at the fire circle beside the Phoenix with about 25 friends attending.  Natasha remembered it this way:  


I was inspired to focus on the light within each of us for the Solstice. To call upon the light to shine, to shine on the darkness that hides within us, the shadows that linger. We called the light to illumine from within, to fill each breath and shine on every aspect of our lives. We called upon the light to lead the way and illuminate the path of our next journey. We acknowledged that the world was going through its dark time but that it is always darkest before the light and we sang "this little light of mine."


The energy was beautiful and filled my heart with joy! My hope is that we each focus on the light within each day so it may continue to grow.

Coming Events


Autumn Equinox Celebration: September 22 at 6 pm


Fall Yard Sale:

October 15


End of the Year Weekend Retreat: December 2-4




Good for the Heart, Good for the Earth

Some new heirloom varieties grew in the garden this year. Beans that dry on the bush were successful and make a beautiful mosaic of variety on the plate. Beans and peas also replenish the soil because of a symbiotic relationship in the roots with nitrogen-fixing bacteria (Nitrogen is a key ingredient in fertilizer and also is key in amino acid and protein formation). The Calypso variety of bean has a black and white pattern that looks like a yin/yang symbol. It is also sometimes called the Orca bean for its similarity to the Orca whale. The Tiger’s Eye bean plant produces beautiful maroon and gold beans that can be eaten fresh or dried. The other seed pictured is the pinkeye purple version of the Southern cowpea known as Black-eyed peas, and a Southern favorite for good food and good luck.


We are lucky to have such a prolific garden space for organic food and beautiful flowers.  This year, we also grew Thai basil for the first time in addition to our favorite Genovese basil used for delicious pesto. Thai basil has a gentle spicy taste and has purple flowers on top of green leaves.  All the food waste from Phoenix guests gets recycled in our compost to help nourish the rich soil in the garden. As piles of vegetable peels heat up and shrink and then get sifted twice, natural processes create “black gold” for our organic soil amendment that makes us better stewards of this land and reduces landfill waste as well.




What Goes Up Must Come Down



It took three days in July to take down and remove the debris of the shed/barn that had stood on the property longer than anyone knows for sure. The barn had been dangerously lopsided for many years and when we were told it was no longer secure on its foundation and was at risk of collapsing on the Hermitage (or worse, on Kathi and the tractor), we decided it was time to do the deed. Our good-fellow maintenance contractor Frank Hrelja (former NYC fireman) took it down after young Matt Milliken and friend had cleaned it out (with guidance from Terry Murray). Two big dumpsters carried away the debris just in time to welcome our Zendo friends for the summer.



You are an essential part of our "conspiracy" to bring more love, transformation, quiet reflection and grace to the world.  Please consider a generous contribution for the ongoing work of holding the Grail Center at Cornwall for meditation, prayer, study, caring action, friendship, reflection and celebration.

We count on your good intentions, blessings and financial support for the ongoing work of the Grail in Cornwall.


The Grail

P.O. Box 475

Cornwall on Hudson, NY 12520


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



June 2016

Moving with the Mystery

                            Life, Change and Growth


Strawberries and Hyssop


The garden provided a surprise bounty of strawberries thanks to a renegade plant that sent runners throughout a fertile bed. Next to the strawberries blooms a hyssop bush planted from seed two years ago by the B'not Esh women who have come annually to the Grail for 32 years.



Sweet Journey, Mary Ann


Even as we celebrate the beauty of nature and many long and beloved relationships in this place, we also were stunned by the loss of a dear friend and local Grail member when Mary Ann Neuman died on April 1 after a short illness. She was a delight to work with and to meditate with, and her presence is deeply missed. Yet we celebrate the meaningful life she led and the positive impact she had on so much in this community and beyond.  She chose to have her ashes remain here in the Grail memorial garden, in a Buddha statue looking out over the garden and Storm King Mountain.



Garden Lessons


The garden in this season can remind you that living and dying, growth and change, pain and joy are natural processes and cycles.  As the ground is dug and turned to make a home for the new seed, effort and exertion are needed, but when the seed is planted, there is a bursting forth of life that is pushing out in every direction, creating sustenance and beauty.

“The force that through the green fuse drives the flower /Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees /Is my destroyer.” ( Dylan Thomas)



New Shed Arrives

Since “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,” we knew it was time to take down the small barn behind the Phoenix before it collapsed and find a new home for the lawn tractor and cart. A new shed was installed next to the cottage parking area in May, with help from our good friend Terry Murray to stabilize the foundation of gravel. All in all, we are reminded that we are capable of change, which includes loss as well as growth.




Grail Girl Event at United Nations


Young women and girls from Mexico, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, South Africa, Tanzania and the USA led a discussion on the issues that they are addressing toward a more sustainable future. They participated in the 60th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations March 14 to 24 to advocate for their concerns and to learn from each other and the many other non-governmental organizations at the event.




Sacred Activism Event led by Grail


An indigenous ritual of Ecuador led by Veronica Sanchez and Monica Mahar set the stage for the third Sacred Activism event at the UN sponsored by the Grail. Grail women from Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, South Africa and the USA spoke of the truth of their lives in their contexts, and the source of their strength and courage in the work they do to develop a sustainable world that attends to the concerns of women.


In this Issue

~Strawberries and Hyssop

~Good bye Spring!

~Coming Events

~Sweet Journey, Mary Ann

~Garden Lessons

~Spring Equinox

~New Shed Arrives

~Songs and Prayers of the Grail

~Grail Girl Event at the United Nations

~Grail Women Support Girls' Leadership

~Sacred Activism Event led by Grail


Good bye Spring!


Spring has come and gone in the Northeast and at the Grail. The Grail Center and its staff and volunteers have been busy providing hospitality to the Grail National Council and the Grail International Leadership Team, the Grail international participants in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, our local friends for the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice, a Singing Retreat, as well as our decades-long Phoenix House clients and friends such as the Park Slope (Brooklyn) United Methodist Church annual women’s retreat and the B’not Esh annual retreat, a national/

international group of progressive Jewish women leaders.

Coming Events

Peach Weekend: September 9-11

Autumn Equinox Celebration: September 22

Fall Yard Sale:

October 15

End of the Year Weekend Retreat: December 2-4


Mary Ann G. Neuman

Oct.13,1944-April 1, 2016








Spring Equinox



Thirty folks gathered on March 20 for a celebration of the arrival of Spring, including the Grail participants of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Terry Murray led the gathering on a meditation in the labyrinth.





Songs & Prayers of the Grail



Grail women "troubadours" Carol Skyrm and Mary Kay Louchart led a joyful gathering of Grail women and friends singing their hearts out and learning many favorite Grail songs. Also pictured are Sharon Thomson and Marian Ronan. Picture by Terri Carter.




Grail Women Support Girls' Leadership



A portion of the Grail women who celebrate and undergird the dreams of girls for a better world are pictured here. Lucy, Joy, Lillian, Cindy, Thanh, Lisa, Megan, Jacki, Sara and Maureen rejoiced after a successful event March 17.



You have been part of our journey of change and growth and we hope you will continue to be companions and supporters of the Grail at Cornwall as we move into the Mystery of Life and the future, whatever it may bring.

We count on your good intentions, blessings and financial support for the ongoing work of the Grail in Cornwall.


The Grail

P.O. Box 475

Cornwall on Hudson, NY 12520


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


October 2015






Making Connections



Women made connections through the arts at the Sacred Activism program this summer in Cornwall.



Artistic expression is fundamental to sacred activism, which we discovered during our Sacred Activism Camp that was held for the first time this summer at the Cornwall Grail Center.


Through poetry, dance, song, visual arts, story-telling, film, drama, and other arts, we made connections between our deepest truths and the world in which we live. 


The place where personal and social transformation takes hold is not necessarily in the rational mind. The arts can be a conduit into another way of seeing the world and understanding one’s own place in the world — a kind of soul-to-soul communication that shares a truth bigger than what we can express in words.


Although women have limited access to the powerful forms of media with the power to mirror and change the collective consciousness, we press the boundaries at every level of society to have our voices and visions heard and seen. 


Women saw themselves reflected in the "Mirror Fence," an installation by Alyson Shotz at the Storm King Art Center.


In giving voice to marginalized women, evoking empathy and identification with unfamiliar stories and lives, engaging local communities to participate in action and understanding of important issues, creating beautiful and sustaining landscapes to project a life-giving vision of the future, the sacred activists of the Grail claim a role as agents of change in local and global societies.



You are invited to be part of this movement to see the power and beauty of girls’ lives, to hear their voices and to raise your own, so that girls are safe, educated and empowered to contribute to the global community of today and tomorrow. Your support of the Grail Center is one way you can tangibly provide for girls’ rights



Please consider a donation to support the work of the Grail at Cornwall.




About the Sacred Actvism Program


For three weeks this summer, the Grail at Cornwall was transformed into a 24/7 International gathering of young women from nine countries around the world. With the help of 36 volunteers, the 4 staff and residents of the Center hosted these world travelers and sacred activists to explore the core principals of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals. 


The Bronx Grail also played a key role in hosting participants before and after the program, making airport runs, and leading program pieces. The NYC Grail supported a trip to the United Nations and a seminar at the Church Center of the UN, followed by a community meal. The National Grail supported participation by two Ecuadoran young women. 


Individual donations as well as contributions of time and talent helped to make the residential experience possible. The International Grail carried the greatest responsibility to support the housing, travel and meals for these twenty women to create a program of formation in Grail values of “justice and joy.”


We thank them all!


In This Issue


 *   Making Connections with

     the Arts


 *  Poem: In Admiration of

    Black  Style

    by Sharon Thomson


 *  Events 






In Admiration

of Black Style

  a poem by Sharon Thomson



I am cool.

I have got to be cool.

I have got to maintain my cool

in the face of all adversities.



I'll be gone. 

I'll be dead and gone. 

I'll be dead and gone

or swept so low


the sun won't never show

above my head again, 

oh no


cause I'm just one woman. 

I'm just one poor woman. 

I'm just one poor

simple woman tryin

to hold on to a dream


of makin each day count

for somethin more than

the one that went before


and it ain't easy. 

It sure as hell ain't easy.

But I keep tryin.


And sometimes, my head is

high-h-h-h-h-er than a kite. 

My back is str-r-r-aight.  

I am walkin tall and proud.

My mind's a-floatin in a sea of

possibilities and I feel good.

Oh yes, do I feel good.


And there ain't no one livin

or passin on ever gonna

put me down


cause I am cool.

I have got to be cool. 

I have got to maintain my cool

in the face of all adversities



I'll be hurtin. 

I'll be sad and hurtin. 

And that ain't never gonna

make it, nohow.










*More than a Yard Sale

      Saturday, October 17

9 am - 4 pm


Lots of items at great prices1 Plus

 Vintage items, clothing,

 exotic and fair trade objects.

 Delicious artisanal and

home-made food.  


Come and see!

 Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for

 more info.




* Exhibit: Simply Human


Sunday. October 18   
Join us at the Grail's Phoenix for the Opening Reception at 5 pm
Followed at 7 pm by a Conversation
   with the
Artist, Terry Murray,  
about this sculpture series that explores human diversity,
   strength and vulnerability.
The Phoenix is located at
119 Duncan Avenue
Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY.  
To rsvp or for more   information, please call
(845) 534-2031 or email
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




September 2015







International Day of the Girl 2015

Justice and Joy

Women shared their joy and work for justice at the Sacred Activism program this summer in Cornwall.


On October 11, 2015, sparks will be flying up from Maputo and Beira in Mozambique, Lisbon and Madeira in Portugal, Capetown and Johannesburg, South Africa, in Australia, Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, Papua New Guinea and New York.


These sparks were ignited this summer at a special Sacred Activism program at the Grail in Cornwall and is now spreading to these lands where program participants celebrate and initiate projects for the International Day of the Girl.


This is the fourth year that the United Nations has sponsored the focus on issues that specifically affect girls around the world. The day promotes girls' human rights, highlights gender inequalities that remain between girls and boys and addresses the various forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the world. The Working Group on Girls, a consortium of Non-Governmental Organizations, including the Grail, is sponsoring a Day of the Girl Summit at the UN on October 9. The Girls Speak Out event will be held at the UN ECOSOC Chamber from 3 to 5 pm. (http://dayofthegirlsummit.org/idg-2015/)


  Dance and song expressed hope and determination for a better world--at Open House held at St. John's Episcopal Church in Cornwall on July 10.


In schools, churches, community centers and Grail houses, and in online digital campaigns, our “sacred activists” will raise awareness and call for action on issues of equal educational opportunities for girls, the dangers of early marriage, and the destructiveness of violence on girls. They will give space for girls to tell their own stories and experiences as girls. They will hear from women about opportunities and be inspired by each other’s strength and ingenuity. They will dance and sing and pray, finding joy in solidarity and visibility. They will celebrate being female together. Perhaps they will commit to working for girls’ rights in their own homes and communities.


These women will ignite movements for women's and girls' equality in their home countries on the International Day of the Girl.



You are invited to be part of this movement to see the power and beauty of girls’ lives, to hear their voices and to raise your own, so that girls are safe, educated and empowered to contribute to the global community of today and tomorrow. Your support of the Grail Center is one way you can tangibly provide for girls’ rights



Please consider a donation to support the work of the Grail at Cornwall.




In This Issue


 *   Justice and Joy -

     The International Day of  

     the Girl


  *  Events - Fall Equinox               


  *  Exhibit: Simply Human


  * About the Sacred Activism









* Fall Equinox Celebration



   Join us at the Grail's Phoenix

   at 5 pm on Wed., Sept. 23 for

   a ceremony and meditation at

   the Labyrinth (weather



   Bring a dish for a Potluck

   Supper to follow.





* Exhibit


   Join us at the Grail's Phoenix
   on Sunday. October 18 for the
   Opening Reception at 5 pm,
   followed by a Conversation
   with the Artist at 7 pm about
   this sculpture series that
   explores human diversity,
   strength and vulnerability.
   The Phoenix is located at 119
   Duncan Avenue, Cornwall-on
   -Hudson, NY.  To rsvp or for
   more information, please call
   (845) 534-2031 or email
   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




Please consider a donation to support the work of the Grail at Cornwall.






About the Sacred Actvism Program


For three weeks this summer, the Grail at Cornwall was transformed into a 24/7 International gathering of young women from nine countries around the world. With the help of 36 volunteers, the 4 staff and residents of the Center hosted these world travelers and sacred activists to explore the core principals of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals.


The Bronx Grail also played a key role in hosting participants before and after the program, making airport runs, and leading program pieces. The NYC Grail supported a trip to the United Nations and a seminar at the Church Center of the UN, followed by a community meal. The National Grail supported participation by two Ecuadoran young women.


Individual donations as well as contributions of time and talent helped to make the residential experience possible. The International Grail carried the greatest responsibility to support the housing, travel and meals for these twenty women to create a program of formation in Grail values of “justice and joy.”


We thank them all!

">June 2015

News from


The Grail at Cornwall










In 2012, the United Nations displayed quilts celebrating the 102nd anniversary of International Women’s Day and the 12th anniversary of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.



One of the areas of critical concern in the United Nations Post-2015 platform is Violence Against Women. Whether at home, on the streets or during war, violence against women is a global pandemic that takes place in public and private spaces. One in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence—mostly by an intimate partner. In 2012, one of two women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family. Only one out of twenty of all men killed were killed in such circumstances. Sexual violence, female genital mutilation, child marriage, human trafficking and sexual exploitation endanger the lives of women and girls and stunt the society that does not end these practices (Source: United Nations).



“What if she were your daughter,” a quilt by Holly McCoy, speaks to the devastation of human trafficking.


800,000 victims are brought across international borders each year with 80% being women or girls. 70% of female victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation.








As an international women’s movement committed to spiritual search, social transformation, ecological sustainability and the release of women’s creative energy throughout the world, the Grail is concerned with the damage done to women and to the world by violence aimed at women and girls. As we look at this pandemic, we find hope in the concerns and capacities of the women who will spend 19 days in Cornwall this summer to learn and support each other in the work and spirit needed to uproot all forms of violence against women and girls.


Everywhere in the world, women weave and mend the social fabric of our communities. Lea McComas’ quilt, “The Mending,” illustrates the work of women to heal their lives and communities, restoring beauty and function in the aftermath of war, greed, and lust.


Through building healthy communities, teaching good practices and attitudes to the young, and inculcating a global perspective to understand issues, these young women give us hope that progress toward safety and security for women and girls can be reached—and their creative energies can be released to create a more vibrant, peaceful world. Read about these women and see if you agree that we can be encouraged and hopeful about what they are doing and the differences they are making and will be making in  the future.


The youngest participant, Anna Carolina, a high school student from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is concerned about all forms of violence against women and girls. She has helped with local campaigns for bone marrow donors and food pantries for those in need.  Salome of Wewak, Papua New Guinea has done research on discriminatory music lyrics and led programs on gender issues in PNG. She majored in International Relations and Community Development.  Catarina of Madeira, Portugal, has participated in an international program to address violence among young people and is part of a Grail group called The Girl Effect that addresses the rights of women and girls. Nonhlanhla of Johannesburg, South Africa, has expressed a keen interest in women’s empowerment. She is a student in politics and has worked in social development and in infrastructure development with parliamentary liaisons.


Sofia of Quito, Ecuador, is the program coordinator for Development, Politics and Languages in Ecuador. She grew up in an intercultural family and attended a multicultural alternative school, then earning a Master’s degree in International Cooperation in Geneva, Switzerland. Vanessa works for the Institute of Human Rights in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and manages social projects sponsored by governments. She uses music and dance to dialogue with communities about culture, environment and resistance and is involved with indigenous and Quilombolas (descendants of runaway slaves) communities. Fidencia is the go-to person in her community to get things done. She coordinates an outreach group of young women in Beira, Sofala Province in Mozambique. She wants to inspire other young women on women’s rights and contribute to the transformation of the world. Coline of the Western Cape, South Africa, is the Project coordinator for the Constitutional Literacy and Service Initiative, working within marginalized communities and with young people on human rights and their lived realities.


Jo, from Queensland, Australia, is a university student studying law and science, who wants to learn the steps for empowering women and girls, fulfilling the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and participating in global community. Allison from New York, USA, is living and working at the Cornwall Grail Center. She has a passion for using theater, dance and song as a medium for social change, healing and awareness. Verónica is an indigenous Kichwa woman from Cotacachi, Ecuador, who seeks to strengthen organizational processes between indigenous, Afro-descendant and mestizo men and women. She uses indigenous women’s strategies to address exclusion and ethnic-racial, gender and class discrimination. Flavia lives at a Grail Center in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and with her background in psychology, she offers support to social projects of Grail with Women and Youth in the State of Minas Gerais. Flavia Olimpia, from Maputo, Mozambique, is active in youth development activities, volunteers at an orphanage, and helps to grow youth membership in Grail through advocacy for girls’ rights.


Palesa is part of the team coming from South Africa. She is an active member of the youth and social committee of Soweto parish, Johannesburg. She volunteers in her community teaching about HIV/AIDS and helping those in need. Maya is from Morales, Mexico. She has worked on community projects through her college and is Interested in working with others on peace and non-violence. Nina, of Capetown, South Africa, works in education assisting Early Childhood Development in the Montessori method, and is the mother of two young boys. She is part of the Grail Young Women’s program. Lisa (New York, USA) designs humanistic curriculum and trains teachers in several countries. She assists students to digitally connect with students in other countries to expand global cooperation.


Mónica from Oaxaca, Mexico, is preparing to educate indigenous high school students and teachers. Of Mixtecan (indigenous) heritage herself, she is especially interested in intercultural models. Ailsa, of Brisbane, Australia, is studying to become a primary school teacher and works with children in an afterschool program. Naomi, who lives in Wewak, Papua New Guinea, is an elementary school teacher, and a certified trainer and counselor in HIV/AIDS-related issues. She leads, trains and inspires others to be advocates on important social issues.  Carolina, from Lisbon, Portugal is active in the Girl Effect group that teaches girls about the issues and the creative power they have. She is the only participant in the summer program who has previously attended the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women.


The program will equip participants to be active advocates in next year’s global gathering at the Commission on the Status of Women as well as how to be effective advocates for justice and peace in their own communities.


This seems like a huge work, and it may seem like the Grail is a big organization. It is a huge work, but we are a small organization with many dedicated workers, many giving their time with no compensation except the satisfaction of taking steps to change the world for the better. The International Grail supports this work financially and spiritually, but it takes more. It takes all of the support we can muster to move forward in ending violence against women and girls, educating new generations, empowering communities to truly release all the potential energy in their midst.


We need you, too, to give us hope for the future.  Please consider a donation to support the work of the Grail at Cornwall.







Notes from the Garden by Lucy Jones




Working in the vegetable garden at the Cornwall Grail Center can be very satisfying. When you clear an area of weeds, you can see what you have accomplished. But you can also see what you didn’t see before: the weeds that are flowering and will soon produce seeds and thus thousands of progeny, the hidden layers upon layers of roots under the soil.


You pull on one thing and then you see another and it is attached or entangled to something else with even deeper roots. You start to see things that you didn’t see before.  You take one action and you see more that needs to happen.




Around the garden are trees that have grown tall over the years. Their roots enjoy the luscious well-tended soil of the garden and reach far beyond the typical “drip-line” of their canopies to take advantage of the rich nutrients and water there. But they hinder the growth of the tender seedlings and compete for the space needed by the flowers and vegetables we want to grow. Like the weeds, the tree roots steal away the nutrients and all the care intended for the garden produce.


This got me, the gardener, thinking. Often, here at the Grail Center, we are engaged and our guests are engaged with deep matters of the mind or soul, problems of the world, society, the political or economic situation, or the need to open in silence to the inner self or the divine, depending on your spiritual persuasion. Yet there is also this very basic grounded-ness of washing dishes and doing laundry, digging soil and pulling weeds, daily opportunities for practicing mindfulness.  These activities are very basic to practicality—very concrete, specific, useful actions, as mundane as they are. 


The Grail holds a lofty vision of spiritual openness, social transformation, ecological sustainability and empowerment of women while staying grounded in the “mundane” regularity of practicality—step by step doing the “grunt” work, the organizing work, the administrative work, the hard physical work, the figuring-out-how-to-do-something-for-the-first-time work, the backstage-hospitality work to free and invite the human soul to move to higher ground.




A mind wrestling with the troubles of the world can go to strange metaphors when freed to make use of hands in a garden. Those roots stealing the generative capacity of the garden are likened to the root cause of discrimination of women and violence against women, the patriarchy that is buried deep in human culture these recent millennia.  (Don’t equate patriarchy to men; rather think of it as a whole system that damages both men and women. Even those who have power are diminished by a system that devours the productive possibilities of all those who would flourish if given the space and sustenance to grow.)


When our volunteer root-diggers and weed-pickers (Megan, Thea, Beverly, Ujjala and Ally) labored in the garden this spring, their minds may not have grappled with such meta-problems as one that is struggling with the question of what tools to pass on to a new generation of sacred activists. We are really just preparing the ground and making the planting beds for our younger sisters to plant and tend with all the gifts and agency they will bring to the task soon, and into the future. We got out as much of the invasive roots as we could. 




Please consider a donation to support the work of the Grail at Cornwall.



Please consider a donation to support the work of the Grail at Cornwall.




In This Issue


 *  Releasing Women's Creative

    Energy:  International

    Women to Take Part in    

    First Sacred Activism Camp



  *  What Do You See?  Notes

    from the Garden


  *  Events - Summer Solstice


  *  Meditation at the Grail


  * Intimacy

 a poem by Marge Piercy




Meditation at the Grail



There is a Love inside of us that surpasses all understanding. Some call it God, some Spirit, Divine Oneness, or the Small Still Voice within. This love can be experienced in meditation. 


Here at the Cornwall Grail, Tuesday through Friday Grail women and friends of the Grail begin our work day with an insightful quote or reading, 20 minute meditation, followed by prayer.  


When we start the day with meditation and prayer we are starting the day with Love. We make this shared silence and prayer a priority for ourselves and our Cornwall Grail community.




Our readings may be from the Dali Lama, Jan L. Richardson’s Sacred Journeys, or another interfaith prayer book such as Andrew Harvey’s Light the Flame. In this way we contemplate wisdom from many traditions, and these readings often set the tone or plant a seed of wisdom or insight for the rest of the day.  


Meditation is not always perfect, sometimes there are dogs barking, phones ringing, stomachs growling, sneezing and coughing. But it always gives us space to breath, reflect, and start the day with focused silence.


Our prayer is birthed from this silence, but sometimes the silence is so sweet it is a prayer within itself. Our prayers range from deeply personal, group support, as well as prayers for local, national, and global issues that are happening. Just like in sharing a community meal we nourish each other’s body and soul, sharing silence, meditation, and prayer is nourishment for our hearts and minds.




To me, it is a simple, beautiful way to begin our day together. It is truly priceless. May this tradition continue, and may it nourish and strengthen our connection with each other and with the Sacred within.

                By Allison Weiss





Please consider a donation to support the work of the Grail at Cornwall.












Summer Solstice Celebration


Sunday, June 21st


Meet at the Grail Phoenix

at 6 pm for a ceremony to greet Summer!


Please bring a dish for a Potluck Supper to follow!



RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone at 

(845) 534-2031.








 a poem by Marge Piercy



does my life so often

feel like a slither of entrails pouring from a wound in my belly?  With both my hands I grasp my wet guts, trying to force them back in.



does my life so often feel like a wild black lake under the midnight

thunder where I am drowning, waves crashing over my face as I try to breathe.



does my life feel like a war I am fighting alone? Why are you fighting me? Why aren’t you with me?


If I die this instant will you be more content

with the morning news?

Will your coffee taste better?


I am not your fate.


I am not your government.


I am not your FBI.


I am not even your mother, not your father or your nightmare or your health.


I am not a fence, not a wall. 


I am not the law, or the actuarial tables of your insurance broker. 


I am a woman with my guts loose in my hands, howling and it is not

because I committed hari-kari. 


I suggest you either cook me or sew me back up.


I suggest you walk

into my pain as into the breaking waves of an ocean of blood, and either we will both drown or we will climb out together and walk away.














































May 2015



News from

The Grail at Cornwall





Do You Hear the Earth's Lamentation?


My life flows on in endless song

Above earth's lamentation.
I hear the sweet, though far off hymn
That hails the new creation.
Above the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?


(Sung by Pete Seeger, attributed to Robert Lowry and others)




Sacred Activism Camp


Music is a source of inspiration and solace for many.  Does singing or hearing song strengthen your soul or agitate you to move or be moved?


At the first International Grail Summer Camp of Sacred Activism to be held at the Grail in Cornwall this July, participants will sing and make music as they explore many issues that face women today and in the future, in their own countries and throughout the globe.


Women’s role in protecting the environment, a critical area of concern to the Grail and other participants in the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women, will be

an important focus of the summer camp. 


As we gather young Grail women from around the world, we will learn about the essential roles that women play in their communities to stop the depletion of resources or the contamination of the earth, water and air.  We’ll also learn about those who are pushing for the adoption of sustainable practices and better distribution of scarce resources.  New York Grail members Joy Garland and Ieva Zadina will share about  the Grail Climate Action CIrcle, which is working against fracking industries and the causes of climate change.




We will remember our hands-on connection to the land of this earth, walking the labyrinth and working to maintain this precious community resource by mulching the path with fresh wood chips.


We will celebrate the power of our community right here in the Hudson Valley, where people organized to clean up the industrial waste, sewage and toxins dumped into the mighty Hudson River.  In 1966, folk singer Pete Seeger and his wife Toshi created the Clearwater organization in Beacon (just across the river from Cornwall) to educate about and advocate for the river. Sailing the Clearwater Sloop up and down the river, environment educators spread the word about saving the river and a movement of people was launched.



Clearwater Sail


On July 9, the Summer Camp Sacred Activism participants will sail on the river with Clearwater educators to learn about the power of song and the power of people when we come together to change the direction of society and its leaders. The Clearwater Sloop has been chartered for the sail and you are invited to join us. Space is limited so let Lucy Jones know if you are interested (Lucy's cellphone: 845-594-8505/Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). We will leave from Poughkeepsie at 10 am. 


Your generous donation to the Cornwall Grail Center helps to support this program and all the work of the Center in sharing a vision of Sacred Activism in our local and global environment.




Donations by check may be mailed to

The Cornwall Grail * PO Box 475

Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY 12520










A Journey to Nepal by Allison Weiss,*

seen here at the prayer wheel at Swoyambhunath, the Monkey Temple, in Kathmandu.


I started my passage on the first day of Lent, and the book that guided me was "Passion for Pilgrimage: Notes for the Journey Home" by Allan Jones, which I found by chance in the Cornwall Grail library.   Whether I was spinning prayer wheels at sacred Buddhist sites, watching river-side cremations in Hindu temples, trekking through jungle and mountain sanctuaries, or connecting with the locals, every moment was a continuous journey into the unknown. Yet, even though this was a journey into the unknown, my transformation was very much that of the Lent story from crucifixion, to resurrection and rebirth.


At first, upon entering the country I was struck by the poverty and the absolutely horrific state of the water. I immediately went into action mode. How can I help? I wanted to know all of the facts, the causes, and the solutions that would alleviate the issues that were so strikingly obvious. What was being done already? What were the statistics? How do the people feel? What do they want?


I had to learn to step back, and instead of going into crisis control “helping” mode, I had do something much harder: Accept the reality of the situation, and allow my heart to break. From here I was able to let go of my ego’s need to “fix” things (even though, yes, there are things we can do to help people have access to clean water and education) and instead of using my mind to solve problems and take action, I opened my heart and allowed the people, places, and reality to change me.



Annapurna Peak in Nepal


Nepal changed me. It offered me gifts I never could have received if I was so determined to “help” and “solve” an at the moment utterly helpless situation.   The irony is that in this letting go and opening in this way, allowing this breaking open and acceptance, I feel now I can give the gifts that my privilege allows me from a place not of egoic need to be the savior and to make it all stop, but from a place of unity, innocence, respect, and love.   Nepal has taught me so much. This journey has taught me so much. This was just the beginning. Just a taste of what was to come.


I started this journey as a student of life, with an open mind, and an aching heart. I followed Lucy's advice as she said "keep your heart open and the spirit of transformation will enter," and it did, in ways that I could never begin to imagine.



 Ally speaks with a woman she met towards the end of her journey.


I learned that we do not have to travel across the world to be on pilgrimage. What we seek is always right there with us. Our hearts, and the Spirit are right there. Opening to Home, is a journey. A deeply personal and sacred inner journey. A journey where we take so our "broken bones may joy."


It was an honor and deep joy to share some of my journey, insights, and love for Nepal with all of you.


*Ally Weiss has lived and worked at the Cornwall Grail Center for the past year. After she returned from Nepal, the news of the earthquake there shook the world. In the right-hand column, she shares a way to help the relief efforts.





In This Issue


Do You Hear the Earth's Lamentation?


Sacred Activism Camp


Clearwater Sail


Girl Scouts: Science of

Happiness Badge


May Day Celebration


Pilgrimage to the Top of the World


How You Can Help Nepal Earthquake Reconstruction


Plus Coming Up





   Girl Scouts:

   Science of Happiness  






Cornwall Girl Scouts earned their Science of Happiness Badge in a program at the Cornwall Grail Center led by Jacki Murray and Mary Ann Neuman. The Happiness Badge encourages scouts to examine the roots of true happiness and to establish practices that help them cultivate joy in their lives.  This is accomplished through art, music, meditation, yoga and group work.


(Photo by Wendy Cucci.)




   May Day Celebration




Happy May Day to You!

Hail Women, Full of Grace
The Holy Ones are with us
Blessed are we
And Blessed is the fruit of our wombs

Holy Women, Mothers of the World
We pray for all beings
Now and in the Transformation
Of us all

                 By Judith Tripp


Members and friends of the Cornwall Grail gathered in the Garden of Mary on the morning of May 1st to honor the Spirit of Mary and the arrival of Spring.


(From left to right: Suzanne Toro, Sharon Thomson, Simonetta Romano, Nancy Peckenham, Kathi Hurley and Ally Weiss.  Photo by Lucy Jones.)




Coming Up

•  The Spirit of Photography/

   The Spirit in Photography 


   Sign up now for a one-day

    photography retreat with

   Mary  Ann G. Neuman on

   June 7. 


   For details, contact

   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


* Summer Solstice  



   Gather at the Phoenix, 119

   Duncan Ave., at 6 pm on

   Sunday, June 21.

   Potluck supper to follow.



  Donate to the Grail!




Your support of the work of the Grail at Cornwall is essential.  Please click on the Paypal link below to make a donation online or send a check to the address below.   

Thank you!









   How to Help

  Nepal Earthquake Recovery





The situation in Nepal is very dire right now. A majority of people still do not have aid. My friend Seema in Nepal and her team have set up an amazing relief effort for the rural areas, which has otherwise not received any aid. It is truly an answer to the prayers of the people. They are doing well but really need our help. A little goes a very long way in Nepal. A lot goes a very long way. Together we can make a real difference.


Check out this video to see the relief effort in action!


Click this link to the website to donate directly. 


Read this blog about the relief effort you are supporting:


Thank you again SO much for your support. Thank you for being the prayer.  


My heart to yours,

Ally Weiss




Contact Us




April 2015





News from

The Grail at Cornwall




Working with Women

to Support Human Rights



Many worked to make it possible for 170 Grail-related girls, boys, and women to attend the 2015 Commission on the Status of Women.

Anyone paying attention can be overwhelmed by the needs of the world. Wars, earthquakes, poverty, social unrest. How do people who care respond? Are we called to make a difference? What can an individual do?


The Grail has always been a voice and agent for peace, for the release of women’s creative energies, for environmental sustainability, and for systems to alleviate and eliminate poverty and discrimination for decades. There is much to do and we are so few, so we have used all our available resources to join with others who want similar positive change.


One example of this is our work with the United Nations. A bureaucratic organization, certainly, but also the source of a great dream for the world: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was created when Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded the world’s political leaders to sign in 1948.



Young Grail women and girls spoke at the UN about the world girls want. Clara from Sweden, Khensani from Mozambique, Anna from Italy, Fuva (Grail CSW Intern) from Mozambique, Irene from Tanzania, Tahylor from Philadelphia, Karen from Brazil and Caroline from Portugal.



The Grail has supported the Declaration of Human Rights by joining with other faith communities to become a non-governmental organization with consultative status at the United Nations.  Since 1953, Grail members in New York City and from other parts of the country and the world have been active in advocating for the rights of women, sustainable development and indigenous persons. In 1998, after establishing its own NGO status at the UN, the International Grail began sponsoring women and girls as well as allies to attend the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN, held for two weeks every March.


The Bronx Grail House becomes a hive of activity and a center for community life before, during and after the CSW, with dozens of girls and women being exposed to the work and hope of women of the world. Sharon Joslyn and Mary Kay Louchart have led the way for many years to provide participants with the tools for advocacy, the spiritual sustenance for the fight, and a sister community to do the work and support each other for the long journey.


Some of the Grail CSW participants spent one day at Cornwall on March 14 before returning home to Italy, Portugal, and Sweden.



This year, the focus of the CSW was to look at the progress made since the seminal 1995 Beijing gathering of women from around the world and their platform to make change.  Although progress has been made since 1995, there are significant gaps that form the roadmap for moving ahead. To make women’s rights a universal reality, UN Women will address the structural causes of gender inequality, such as violence against women, unpaid care work, limited control over assets and property, and unequal participation in private and public decision-making.


Big dreams and step-by-step plans take more than the single individual or isolated group. The Grail wants to continue its work at the UN to empower women and girls. As a small determined group, we count on support from many others—committed individuals who help in whatever way they can.



Cornwall Grail Center’s co-directors Simonetta and Lucy at the Women’s March and Rally, along with Marina, Grail member from Italy, for International Women’s Day, March 8th.



This year, the Cornwall Grail, with the support of the International Grail, hosted a week-long follow-up after the CSW for seven women and girls to debrief and plan for future steps together. This was a productive and restorative time for the participants.


In July, the Grail Center will host an international group of young women for 18 days to study what it means to be a sacred activist and to prepare for next year’s CSW.  Twenty women will arrive from Australia, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, South Africa and the United States for an immersion experience in all the issues women and girls, and indeed, all of society, are facing in the future. We will offer tools for transformation and maintaining hope in the struggle. We will give whatever can be useful and meaningful for the future they will build.




Seven of the Grail CSW participants spent one week at the Cornwall Grail after the CSW ended. Here they are planting seeds for the Grail organic vegetable garden. Nour from Australia, Hyasinta from Tanzania, Fuva from Mozambique and Patricia from Belgium enjoy the relative warmth of late March.





In This Issue

•Working with Women at the UN

• A Spiritual Pilgrimage to Nepal


• Adieu, Nancy!

Coming Up


•  The Spirit of Photography/

   The Spirit in Photography 


   Sign up now for a one-day        

   photography retreat with Mary

   Ann G. Neuman on June 7.     


    Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for




     Staff Notes



A Spiritual Pilgrimage in Nepal


“Beyond the outer landscapes, pilgrimage is a sacred and deeply personal inner journey.   It is a spiritual practice that ushers us into our bodies, to the depths of our souls, and towards the heights of Spirit. Pilgrimage asks us to bring our whole being, body and mind, heart and soul, and all that we carry within us, into a place of surrender so we may be transformed by the Living Mystery.” – Allison Weiss




In late March, Cornwall Staff member Allison Weiss returned from a transformative 6-week journey to "The Roof of the World,” also known as the “Home of Light”: the Himalayas! During her time in Nepal, she got to experience a deep inner journey, as well as visit some of the most sacred Buddhist and Hindu holy sites known to humankind.  


Here is some of what she has to say:   "The sacredness of the land and the holiness in which God is held in these traditions were so deeply inspiring, and held the space for me to do very profound inner work on pilgrimage. It was truly an 'interfaith' as well as an 'inner faith' journey '.


Ally will share more about her spiritual trek in forthcoming newsletters.






"When you set out for Ithaka
ask that your way be long,
full of adventure, full of instruction…”

(Constantine P. Cavafy)



We bid “Bon Voyage!” and not “Good-bye” to Nancy Peckenham, who has served on the Cornwall Grail’s Advisory Committee for six years and consulted with staff on communications for the last year, as she and her husband, Mark Fleischman, set out on their adventure traveling the country in their RV. Thanks for being such a vital part of us. You will be missed!

Adieu, Nancy!





Your support of the work of the Grail at Cornwall is essential.  Please click on the Paypal link below to make a donation online or send a check to the address below.   

Thank you!




Contact Us



January 2015



A Time for Gratitude
from the Grail at Cornwall


As we begin a new year at the Grail, let us recall all the gifts of life we celebrate and remember those who have departed.  We are once again reminded how quickly time goes and how precious each moment is. 



We are thankful for you who have been part of our year, giving love and support. 


We wish you all the best for deep happiness and joy in the moments of 2015 to come -- and strength and courage for any challenges that arise.



The Gift

A Poem by William Stafford


Time wants to show you a different country. 

It's the one that your life conceals,

the one waiting outside when curtains are drawn,

the one Grandmother hinted at 

in her crochet design, 

the one almost found
over at the edge of the music, after the sermon.


It's the way life is, and you have it, a few years given.

You get killed now and then,

violated in various ways. 

(And sometimes it's turnabout.)

You get tired of that. 

Long-suffering, you wait and pray,

and maybe good things come -

maybe the hurt slackens and

you hardly feel it any more.
You have a breath without pain. 

It is called happiness.

It's a balance, the taking and passing along,
the composting of where you've been

and how people and weather treated you. 

It's a country where
you already are, bringing where you have been.

Time offers this gift in its millions of ways,
turning the world, moving the air, calling,
every morning, "Here, take it, it's yours."



Gearing Up for the

2015 Commission on the Status of Women



We welcome two interns for the Grail’s project with the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, Fuva Muiambo of Mozambique and Sonia Monteiro of Portugal.  


Fuva is is a 23-year-old student, dancer and HIV/AIDS activist. She presented her work in 2013 at the CSW forum sponsored by the Working Group on Girls, a consortium in which the Grail is active.



Sonia is a lawyer in Lisbon, Portugal who works and lives in a community of young Grail women at the Grail Center in Lisbon.  She spent two years in Angola as a volunteer with an NGO on development. 


Sonia and Fuva will be living at the Bronx Grail to prepare for the CSW and to carry out the program for participants who will attend in March for two weeks.


Girls and young women for the residential program will arrive from Australia, South Africa, Mozambique, and possibly Italy, Brazil, Belgium and Tanzania, as well as the U.S. 


The entire group visits the Cornwall Grail Center March 14.  Some of the girls and young women will stay at the Cornwall Grail Center for one week following the CSW, from March 23 to 29. While here there will be an opportunity to meet community folks in the Cornwall area.


Pictured above: Some of the participants in the CSW in 2014.



Farewell to a Dear Friend


Ruth Chisholm, beloved Grail member for 59 of her 88 years, died on December 21 - at the time of the Winter Solstice.  Ruth lived and worked in the Cornwall Grail community for 24 years and continued to be a part of the work and community as health allowed for a few years beyond that until moving to Warwick for assisted living in 2011.


Before coming to Cornwall, Ruth, a native of Nova Scotia, had gone to Uganda to help staff The Grail hospital in Rubaga.  She worked there as a nurse and educator for 24 years, even after the military coup of the 70s crippled the country. In a 1979 letter she wrote to Mary Kane in Ohio of two Tanzanian missiles striking the hospital.  In spite of the hardship and danger she closed her letter with “But the future has hope!” That was Ruth.


As Deirdre Cornell wrote: “Ruth was very much to thank for the warmth and integrity of this open door community. Ever practical, she kept things going, in many ways. As a caretaker, she tended to big and small maintenance jobs; she also helped maintain the relationships between us. Ruth genuinely delighted in meeting the souls of anyone and everyone who came through Cornwall. She treasured deep conversations with friends, beauty in nature and celebrations of the year in community. Her spiritual search included the Earth and the body. She loved walking, singing and meditating and often returned our attention to the importance of contemplation, the one thing necessary.”


Ruth’s spirit is everywhere on the grounds and in the buildings of the Cornwall Grail Center that she sustained for so many years.  She walked the Labyrinth as pictured here on her last visit, shortly after it was completed. Also in the hearts and minds of those who knew her, hers is a living spirit.  Even in her last years, suffering from a catastrophic stroke, she was cherished by care-givers who always received her gratitude.


Her life will be remembered at a memorial on March 28 at the Center as many of her friends and loved ones will gather to commemorate a life well lived in faith and service.




Joyce Asfour

Louise Ballinger

Carol Barton

M. A. Bazadona

Patricia Barrett

     in memory of Fred Barrett

Wendy Bayer

Cassandra Beam

     in honor of the Peter

     Maurin Farm

Irene Bazadona

Marcia Bedard in memory of

      Elise Gorges

Kate Benson

Virginia Bergfalk

Grazia and Antonio Berretta

Judith Blackburn

Teagan Blackburn

Barbara Breitman

Wendy Budzynski

Margarita Cabrera

Dorothy Calvani

Penny Carr

Tom Carroll III

Emilia Charbonneau

Cynthia Cheyne

Jean Cincotta

Elizabeth and James Congelli

     in memory of Eddie & Ag  

    Del Ross and Joe Congelli

Neil Connolly

Katherine Conway

Deirdre Cornell

Vivian Corres

Margaret Corrieri

Bethann Witcher Cottrell

Marguerite Coyle

Mary Therese Coyle

Theresa Czerwinski

     in memory of Richard

     Czerwinski and Ruth


Maria de Groot

Dora Delancey

Virginia Deters

Catherine Devlin

Patricia Dillon

Mary Farrell

Thomas Fenlon

     in honor of Sharon Joslyn

          and Mary Kay Louchart

Ceci Figueroa

     in memory of Elise Gorges

Susan Fink

     in memory of Barbara  


Kathleen Fisher

Naomi & Arthur Fonseca

     in honor of Cay Charles

Claire Fordrung

Evelyn Francuz

Frances Frazier

Allison Freese

Joy Garland

Barbara Gibbons

Mary Gindhart

Barbara Smith Gioia

Hermine Glaser

Marian April Goering

Beverly Halley

Nora and Eugene Hamond-Gallardo

Diana Hayes

Elizabeth Heath

     in memory of Winnie


Marguerite Hebert

Jeanne Heiberg

Martha Heidkamp

Grace Heising

Bonnie Hendricks

Cherie Holman

Kathy Hurley

Sonia Jacquez

     in honor of the Grail


Sharon Jolly

     in memory of Janet


Lucy Jones

Rita and Sidney Jones

     in honor of Doris J. Jones

Sharon Joslyn

Alexa Kane

Carol Kaplan

Laura Kaplan

Richard Kelly

Elena and Mel Kleiman

Angelina and Fredrick  


Linda Kolts

Darlene and Paul Korykora

Julia Kristeller

Kathleen Marina Kryvanick

Maureen Laflin


Many Thanks

to all who supported the work of the Grail in Cornwall in 2014. 

You have generously given more than $34,000!


We are so grateful that you are a part of this work.



Debra Lambo

Eileen Lammers

Doug Land

Patricia McGuirk-Larkin

The Leidy Family Trust

     in memory of Peggy Chapman

Brendan Lind

Patricia Linnehan

     in honor of J.M. Linnehan

Margaret Linnehan

Dinah Loculan-Gentes

Mary Kay Louchart

Marian Lucas

Frances Martin

     in memory of Elise Gorges

          and Janet Kalven

Mar Aquilar Margolis

Mary Ann McCarthy

Maureen McDermott

Carol McDonnell

Frances McLaughlin

Maureen McNamara

Gary Melrose

     in memory of Marlene D’Alvia

Anne Mercier

Jennifer Messier

Robert Minichiello

     in memory of Mary V. Minichiello

Joyce Minkler

Nancy and Timothy Minkler

Megan Montelone-Morrison

Jacqueline  Murray

Patricia Myers

     in honor of Dorothy


Mary Ann Neuman

Thanh Xuan Nguyen

Anne Theresa Nolan

Carol Nosko

Karen O’Brien

Pat Enkyo O’Hara

Arthur and Virginia O’Leary

     in honor of Alice Gallagher

Mona Paschke

Nancy Peckenham

Barbara Peiker

Susan Pondish

Rita Ponessa

Trina Paulus

Anne Pearson

Laura Pfeffer

     in honor Audrey Schomer

Tegan Rein

Elizabeth Robinson

Joan R. Rogerson

Priscilla K. Rogerson

     in honor of Tegan Rein

Loretta Rokey

     in honor of Sharon Thomson

Simonetta Romano

Rosa Ruiz

Patricia St. Onge

     in memory of Katharine H. Martin

Paul Sabella

Margaret Savarese

Helena Schaareman

Isabel Schultz

     in honor of Ruth Vargas

Elizabeth Shafer

Carol Siemering

Deborah Silvestri

Bernice Sisson

Carol Skyrm

Patricia St. Onge

Phyllis Stout

Marie Sutter-Sinden

     in memory of Eileen


Maureen Tate

Rose Carol Taul

Emily Thomas

Sharon Thomson

Mary Ann Stephana Tikalsky

Suzanne Toro

Nancy Traer

Barbara Troxell

Ruth Vargas

Natasha Mercado Velasquez

Catherine Voss

     in memory of Mike


Lillian Wall

Beth Wasmer

Carol Webb

Louise Westling

Janice Weinkam

Allison Weiss

     in honor of Linda Kolts

Francine Wickes

Jean Wilson

Teresa Wilson

Aurelia Winborn

Sharon Wood

Joyce Yu

Ieva Zadina



   Farewell to a Dear Friend 


Ruth Chisholm, beloved Grail member for 59 years, died December 21st.  Ruth lived and worked in the Cornwall community over 30 years.


Read more about Ruth below.



Many Thanks

to all who supported the work of the Grail in Cornwall in 2014. 

You have generously given more than $34,000!


See the full list of donors below!


 Event Calendar

Oscar Talk with Barbara DeFina

Tuesday, February 10 

7 pm at The Phoenix, 119 Duncan Avenue


Join award-winning film producer Barbara DeFina for a discussion of the top films nominated for Oscars in 2015.  Barbara is a voting member of the Academy of Motion Pictures and the executive of many films including Goodfellas and The Color of Money.


Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations

March 9-20, 2014

(See related article)



Spring Equinox Celebration

Sat., March 21, 5 pm


Meet at the Phoenix, 119 Duncan Avenue, to join members of the Grail at Cornwall as we welcome the arrival of Spring! Bring a dish for a potluck meal to follow.



For more information about these events, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (845) 534-2031.

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November 2014

What's Happening at the Grail?

Grail International Program in Portugal



A month-long gathering in Portugal in October brought together more than a dozen members of the International Grail, including Cornwall Grail co-director Lucy Jones.


The program participants focused on spiritual practices to explore everyday experiences of the holy in our lives, in all the heights and depths that life brings to us.  It also created a wonderful sense of community among women who live and work in many countries from Mozambique, Kenya and South Africa to Brazil, Paraguay and the Philippines.


Several of the participants have also been part of the Grail’s program at the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations and have been visitors to the Cornwall Grail Center.









Building community with each other was part of the Grail program in Portugal.

Hold the Date!  

The Grail’s

Holiday Art & Craft Show     

 Saturday, December 6


Original paintings and artwork


Fine crafts, including jewelry, scarves,

calligraphy, candles 


Imported fair trade items 


    Take home some of our delicious homemade soups or jams and jellies.

A Thanksgiving Reflection





    "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into


enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order,


confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a


home, a stranger into a friend.



     Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and


creates a vision for tomorrow." --Melody Beattie




Take a Walk - Read a Book at Story Walk






A new Story Walk has been installed on Grail property that it shares with the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum on Boulevard in Cornwall-on-Hudson.   


The Story Walk trail is designed as a way for children and adults to experience the beauty of nature together with the power of book recreate that experience.


This fall's story is "Gobble, Gobble" by Cathrun Falwell. Visitors will enjoy the pages of the book and its beautiful illustrations as you follow the story of Jenny's discovery of wonderful Wild Turkeys!  The Story Walk is presented by the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum in partnership with the Cornwall Public Library and the Grail.  


Visit thegrailatcornwall.org for more about Story Walk.


       The Grail at Cornwall


       PO Box 475 * 119 Duncan Avenue


       Cornwall-on-Hudson, NY 12520


Late September 2014


The Cornwall Grail in Action

Do you ever ask “What does the Grail do?” 


Here are some answers and ways you can get involved with others in issues and activities that matter to you.   




The Grail Advocates


“A girl should be two things: 

               who and what she wants."                                       Coco Chanel


For decades, the Grail has brought girls from here and around the world to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women to learn about issues that confront girls and women everywhere and to advocate for their empowerment. 


Each March the Grail’s CSW Winter Camp in the Bronx helps girls and young women build skills and relationships to strengthen their lives to work toward justice.


In October, the Grail is sponsoring a program at the Cornwall Public Library as part of the International Day of the Girl (see Events Calendar).


The Grail Recycles


“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.

On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”   

Arundhati Roy




You can find a new treasure for a bargain price, enjoy homemade soup and jams, meet Grail members and friends and support the Grail’s work on October 18 at 121 Duncan Avenue for the annual More Than a Yard Sale.  Reduce, reuse, recycle! 


The Grail Learns


“Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?  Jesus of Nazareth



Where does your food come from?  What is in your food?  How is it produced?  Food Justice looks at food security—the availability of sufficient food for all people—and food sovereignty—the rights of people to have control over the sources of our food, the processing of our food and the cultural appropriateness of our food, as well as just systems for farm workers, and those who labor in processing and delivering food to us. 


Are you concerned about lack of oversight in U.S. food processing, corporate takeover and profit-above-all-else motives, seed patenting, genetic modifications of seeds, overuse of pesticides and fertilizers, demise of family farms, abuse of land and water and animals in factory farming, overuse of antibiotics in animal feed, hunger and obesity in American families, and environmental degradation?  If so, we invite you to learn more through the work of the Food Justice Group.


For articles written by the Grail Food Justice Group, contact Lucy Jones at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..




The Grail Celebrates


“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. 

It turns what we have into enough, and more.” 

Melody Beattie



Greet the beginning of each new season with a walk of the labyrinth, a celebration of the turning of the seasons, and a shared feast. 


The autumnal equinox, when day and night are the same length, will be celebrated September 22nd at 5 p.m.


The Winter Solstice will be Sunday, December 21st at 6 p.m.  You will receive email notice of upcoming celebrations if you send your email address to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


A circle of women gather monthly for a potluck meal to share their passions and their journeys, and to learn more about the Grail.  To learn more and to get notices of the Grail Circle meetings, call 845-534-2031 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


In this Issue

The Grail Advocates

The Grail Recycles

The Grail Learns

The Grail Celebrates

Your Support Makes a Difference


Your financial support is critical to carrying out the work of the Grail at Cornwall. 
Please consider a generous tax-deductible gift—and thank you!


 Events Calendar

September 22


Celebrate the Fall Equinox with Grail members and friends as we walk the Labyrinth and greet the new season. Meet at the Phoenix at 119 Duncan Avenue at 5 pm and bring a dish for a Potluck Supper to follow at 6 pm.



October 11


You are invited to the Cornwall Grail program for the 2014 International Day of the Girl at the Cornwall Public Library on October 11 from 1 to 4 p.m.


Included is the screening of the film "Girl Rising," which tells the stories of nine extraordinary girls from nine countries.

October 18


Stop by the Grail at 121 Duncan Avenue in Cornwall-on-Hudson from 9 am to 4 pm and see what goodies you can find in our annual More Than A Yard Sale event.




For more info about these events, send an email to:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at

(845) 534-2031.

Your generous


donation supports


all of our work at


the Grail at





Forward this email to a friend!


Early September 2014

Cornwall Grail - A Labor of Love


... and more for you to get involved in!




Did you celebrate Labor Day on Monday?


If you reflect on the meaning of Labor Day, you may think about the approaching end of summer and of all the delicious food that is ready for harvest in the days ahead.


You may also be aware of the men and women who labor in the agricultural fields of America, the vast majority of them migrant workers who roll across the country, following the harvests.


You are invited to the Cornwall Grail Center for a special presentation on Sunday, September 14, by Deirdre Cornell, who will talk about her new book “Jesus was a Migrant.”  


In the book, Deirdre tells the stories of migrant families and communities who in their love and daring reveal to us the presence of an always moving, always generous God.   Deirdre gathered these stories as part of her work with migrant families in upstate New York. She also shares her own migrant journey as a Maryknoll lay missioner to Mexico with her husband and children.



Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. 




Are You Concerned About Climate Change?



The Grail has been active in advocating against hyrdrofracturing (“fracking”) in New York, Colorado, Florida and throughout the country.  In this photo published in The New York Times, Grail members Joy Garland and Carol Skyrm were caught on camera protesting the use of this environmentally dangerous method that drills deep into the earth and pumps secret chemicals into fissures, polluting water sources and damaging bedrock so that earthquakes occur.




Your concern and actions are important for the future of the planet.  Join in or send support for Grail friends and members across the country who are participating in the People's Climate March in New York City on September 21st when world leaders gather at the United Nations for the Climate Change Summit.  Marian Ronan, Ieva Zadina and other local Grail women are organizing our participation in this action.  May your concerns and those of all the people be heard as leaders deliberate on the future of the planet.  The message that change is needed now must be heard, for the sake of future generations and for the beauty and biodiversity of this incredible blue marble we call home.




What Changes Mark Your World?


You are invited to the Grail at Cornwall on Monday, September 22 at 5 pm to celebrate the passing of summer and the beginning of autumn as we pause to reflect, walk the labyrinth, give thanks, wonder at the beauty of this land, and enjoy a potluck meal together. 




Four times a year we consciously stop to take note as the day shortens and lengthens, as the landscape blooms, greens, changes to reds and yellows and then rests in white splendor. 


Join us in person or in spirit to celebrate and mark the passage of time, the changes in our lives and the life of the world.  Be renewed by the camaraderie of new and old friends and hold the moment of bird song, leaf fall and gentle breeze. 


Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register for the Equinox celebration. 


This poem from Wendell Berry was part of last year’s Autumn Equinox celebration.



The Hidden Singer


The gods are less for their love of praise.
Above and below them all is a spirit that needs nothing
but its own wholeness, its health and ours.
It has made all things by dividing itself.
It will be whole again.
To its joy we come together --
the seer and the seen, the eater and the eaten,
the lover and the loved.
In our joining it knows itself. It is with us then,
not as the gods whose names crest in unearthly fire,
but as a little bird hidden in the leaves
who sings quietly and waits, and sings.



Wendell Berry


Your Generosity Ensures Our Growing Life


Your caring hands and your contributions are an essential part of holding this place. You help us to keep it thriving in the buzz and splendor of green and growing life here in Cornwall. 


May all those you touch with love be as blessed as we are by your generosity.


          Make a Tax-Free Charitable Contribution Here





August 2014

In Your Caring Hands, Cornwall Grail Grows



August is a time of reaping the bounty of the harvest at the Grail Center in Cornwall.  Tomatoes, squash, beets, onions, beans, chard, and even a Southerner’s favorite, black-eyed peas (fresh not dried) fill our plates. Numerous flowers decorate tables and altars.




Even though we reap rewards of our labors every year, season after season, it is still a surprise to see the abundance. The joy escalates when the “surprise lilies” (Lycoris squamigera) bloom where nothing was apparent before their magical appearance.




It takes many hands to make a productive garden from the rain, sun and seeds that nature provides.  And it takes many hands to make a healthy spiritual center on the beautiful property that was bequeathed to the Grail five decades ago.




News Notes


This summer the four residential staff welcomed Allison Weiss as an intern to help with the garden, with cleaning-out and spiffing-up projects and to join us in contemplative community.



Our residential poet and former Director, Sharon Thomson, stepped back from managerial duties in July and will continue as a resident volunteer and community member.




Simonetta Romano and Lucy Jones carry forward the managerial tasks of the retreat center. Kathi Hurley carries on the yeoman’s task of keeping the grass cut and the bushes trimmed, especially monitoring the beloved Labyrinth.  And Callie the dog offers a happy welcome to all visitors.








A partnership with the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum helps us keep the woodland paths cleared and provides storytelling walks on the property with the Cornwall Public Library.


We hold this precious land and its buildings in trust for the Grail and for all our guests who enjoy its peace and beauty.


Your Generosity Ensures Our Growing Life


Your caring hands and your contributions are an essential part of holding this place. You help us to keep it thriving in the buzz and splendor of green and growing life here in Cornwall. 


May all those you touch with love be as blessed as we are by your generosity.


Make a Tax-Free Charitable Contribution Here




April 2014


To Everything, There is a Season...



A time to keep silence, and a time to speak ...


Speaking up was on the minds of the Cornwall Grail members who once again took part in the annual United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women  in March together with members of The Grail in the US and abroad. Cindy Cheyne, Lucy Jones and Simonetta Romano, along wth Ilona
 Gulak Velasquez, the 13-year-old daughter of Grail member Natasha Velasquez, participated in the workshops and discussions that brought out new ideas about how to empower women and girls. 


Mixing with women from around the world, including Grail Members and Explorers from Tanzania, Mozambique, Portugal and Mexico, the participants tackled topics from violence against women to education and the environment.  The Grail-sponsored session “Walking on the Edge of Change: Girls voices and life learning experience toward achieving the goals of the MDGs” gave many girls the chance to tell the world about barriers to equality in their countries.


On March 11, Simonetta Romano worked with moderator Maureen Tate to present a session on Sacred Activism.  The room was packed as each panelist reflected on the spiritual awareness that undergirds her active involvement in transforming some part of her world. Hyasinta spoke of her work with the Masaai people in Tanzania while Joana from Portugal told of her work with The Girl Effect Grail project. Abida shared her experience with the Mozambique Grail Youth Group and her efforts to empower girls to speak their truth to power. Trina expressed the joy of a long lifetime of work as an artist and environmental activist. Each woman shared powerfully about formative years and the spiritual strengths she has gained from her upbringing and involvement with Grail sisters.



Following the end of the first week at the UN, all the Grail members who were taking part in the CSW came up to Cornwall to experience the local Grail Center. 

Ilona, seen standing in the blue shirt, center, later spoke with a local reporter about her experiences at the CSW, telling him that she learned the importance of giving girls a voice and that she wants to reach out to girls in Cornwall on these issues.





Speaking Up About Girls in Tanzania




 Hyasinta Mgonja, an active member of the Tanzanian Grail, visited Cornwall after the CSW meeting where she presented a slide show of her work with the Maasai and other young people at a Grail-run school in Tanzania. 











Hyasinta also visited Val-Kill, Eleanor   Roosevelt's home in Hyde Park, with a fascinating exhibit on her far-reaching work against discrimination.  Roosevelt played a key role in the original UN Declaration of Human Rights and also served on President Kenendy’s Commission on the Status of Women.







A TIme to Plant ...



As a snow shower in Cornwall on April 16 proved, it is still early enough in the gardening season for you to get involved in planting a garden at the Grail.  Last newsletter, we invited volunteers to contact Lucy Jones but we provided the wrong email address. 


If you’d like to start planting with us, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Thank you!



Make a Tax-Free Charitable Contribution Here


845-534-2031 * www.thegrailatcornwall.org