New Page 1 HomeAbout JoySpiritual DirectionWorkshops & RetreatsBooksInterviewsJoy's Weekly Blog

Reviews & Articles


Book Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


The Fabric of Friendship
Celebrating the Joys, Mending the Tears in Women's Relationships
Joy Carol
Sorin Books 10/06 Paperback $15.95
ISBN: 1893732959

Click hereThe Fabric of Friendship
S&P Book Awards:
One of the
Best Spiritual Books
of 2006

"If I were to name something special that I would want to give every woman on earth, it would be the gift of a healthy relationship with another woman. Women who have strong, genuine friendships feel accepted, affirmed, supported, sustained, and loved, even in the most difficult times. Indeed, authentic relationships between women are enjoyable, beneficial, and powerful — almost breathtaking. It doesn't get much better than that." This is the wish of Joy Carol, an author, speaker, counselor, and spiritual director who leads retreats and workshops across the country on a variety of topics including women's issues. Founder of the Union Center for Women and co-author of the official report on the United Nations' Decade for Women, she was an international consultant on women and development for the Ford Foundation, Save the Children, the U.N. and other international organizations.

This inspiring paperback enables us to see the many ways women nourish their souls through friendship with other women. Those who take the time to give their best to others in this way are also rewarded with happier and healthier lives, according to a report on the Nurses' Health Study conducted by the Harvard Medical School. But friendships in these stressful times are not easy to maintain and a host of problems and challenges face women who choose to invest time and energy and love into friends of the same sex.

Carol begins with an examination of the primal relationship women have with their mothers as their first friends. She talks about her own relationship with her mother and then outlines steps that can be taken when sparks fly and there is conflict, disappointment, and mutual hurts inflicted. It is never too late to transform this "first friendship." Sisters offer another experience of friendship in the family circle. The challenge in these relationships is to accept differences and celebrate commonalities.

The next three chapters deal with emotions that can hinder deep and lasting friendships between women: envy, competition, and anger. Dealing with these emotions is part of the inner work that must be done in any kind of intimate relationship. It takes patience.

Plenty has been written about women in the workplace and finding ways to bring out both feminine and masculine qualities on the job. Carol comes up with some helpful suggestions for women about working well with other women. In chapters on the plus of boundaries, men and friendships, and recognizing needs and feelings, Carol hits high stride with solid insights and ideas for everyone. She shares five stories from the United States and two from India and Germany that "touched my heart and renewed my faith in the tremendous power of women's friendships."

In "Getting It All Together," the author acknowledges the formidable roadblocks and hurtles facing women who want to engage with their women friends in meaningful relationships. In a final wrap-up, she shares her own special recipe for better friendships that includes being truthful, kind, a good listener, and having a sense of humor. Joy Carol celebrates the abundant rewards of friendship among women, making it clear that those that last are usually based on abiding spiritual underpinnings. This book is a must-read for women of all ages!


Last night was my women's group holiday celebration at a local restaurant. We have been meeting monthly since 1991. Sixteen years. We have seen each other through new babies, new careers, family and personal illnesses, divorces, milestone birthdays, and others of life's joys and sorrows. It is a constant in my life that sustains me, and I am grateful for their roles in my life.
My present this year was the book "The Fabric of Friendship" by author and spiritual director Joy Carol. I am fortunate to have worked with her in spiritual direction since 2002. I love the wisdom in this book, and highly recommend it to my women readers -- and the men who love them. Thank you, Joy for your wisdom and for your care.
Blogger informs me that this is my 200th entry. It seems like a good time to say thank you to those of you who read this blog regularly. Just like it seemed like a good time to say thank you to some of the important women in my life. Who can you thank today?

Posted By Rev. Debra W. Haffner to Sexuality and Religion: What's the Connection?


Nebraska native's book looks at women's relationships

 Click here

When it comes to friendship, women have the advantage over men, says Joy Carol.

“It’s part biological and part cultural,” the Nebraska native said. “We want to be in relationships. We value them. We cultivate them.

“Women are nurturing. We can give birth and nurse our babies with our own bodies,” she said. “We just have a natural tendency to be more nurturing.”

So why is it that these friendships that are so important to us can be so easily cast aside or neglected when we get busy?

And if women are the better of the two sexes when it comes to forming friendships, why do we need self-help books to teach us how to be better friends and how not to ruin a good friendship with unreasonable expectations and petty rivalries?

Women’s relationships are complex, Carol said in a telephone interview from her New York City home. A lot of factors, from relationships with our mothers and sisters to cultural expectations to our own self-identity, all come into play in the making and keeping of friends.

Carol, who grew up in Clatonia, returns to Nebraska this week for a two-week tour to promote her newest book, “The Fabric of Friendship: Celebrating the Joys, Mending the Tears in Women’s Relationships.”

Some books focus only on the special relationships between women. Some just focus on the pain and problems.

“The Fabric of Friendship” looks at both.

“People ask me why write about friendship? I feel this way — I’ve been involved with women’s issues for so long. I set up a woman’s center in Brooklyn (N.Y.) 35 years ago. I was involved in the women’s movement. I have worked with women all over the world,” she said.

So when her publisher suggested she look at friendship and Carol started talking to women about their friends — the good, the bad and the regrettable — she found answers to questions she didn’t know she had and realizations why some friendships in her own life just didn’t last.

For women, authentic friendships are rejuvenating, fulfilling and physically good. Yet innate cultural and social factors affecting females often make it difficult for women to sustain these all-important bonds, Carol said.

On one hand, women are allowed to be more feeling than men. We can cry. We can talk about how we feel. We have the uniquely female experiences of periods, cramps, childbirth and menopause. “And women often talk about their feelings and problems in life the same way. If something goes wrong, another woman will probably understand how we are feeling because they’ve probably been there too,” Carol said.

On the other hand, “women don’t have good boundaries, and we are people pleasers,” she said.

“Also, women don’t often say what they really want to say or think or mean.”

We love our friends and envy them at the same time. We support them and compete against them. The strengths we respect in them often magnify our weaknesses.

We expect our friendships to remain a solid foundation when the rest of our world tilts off its axis. Yet we forget that friendship takes energy and work, Carol said.

“Friendships are not effortless or trouble-free,” she said.

“The Fabric of Friendship” is about unraveling the knots and weaving a magnificent cloth that will shield us, support us and invigorate us, she said.

“When a friendship is good, there is nobody in the world better to you than another woman friend. She will relate to you and be empathetic because she has been there,” Carol said.

And when it goes bad, there are few things as vicious and gut-wrenching.

“I hear women say they don’t trust other women or cannot work with women because they are too bitchy, too demanding. Whereas a man might do exactly the same thing a woman does — she is demanding, he is a good boss. She is bitchy, he is strong.

“We are so judgmental of women, as compared to men,” Carol said.

“Some women say they only have men friends. What does that say about the woman who trusts men and doesn’t trust the female sex? It says they don’t trust themselves; don’t like themselves.”

Both are critical issues for women. And if they learn to like themselves and respect themselves, they will become better friends. If they can just be themselves and not worry about being misunderstood, their friendships will flourish and endure.

“They will not be so demanding, and will not be so hurt if something backfires,” Carol said. “They can be more flexible.

“As women feel good about themselves — and like themselves — they don’t have to be envious or competitive,” she said.

“We can look at our friends and see why we like them. Rather than saying, ‘She’s too smart for me or I am not as smart as her.’

“It’s transforming,” Carol said. “It changes the picture and allows us to live life fully.”

Reach Erin Andersen at 473-7217 or

To catch her in person

Author, speaker and Nebraska native Joy Carol will be in the state  through Oct. 2, giving speeches, signing books and receiving honors.

You can catch her at any of the following public events:

* 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Ames Reading Room, Bennett Martin Public Library, 136 S. 14th St.

* Noon- 2 p.m., Friday, Lincoln Northeast High School alumni and friends at Misty’s in Havelock for lunch and a program.

* 2 p.m. Saturday, Lee Booksellers, Edgewood Center, 5500 S. 56th St.

* 10:30 a.m. Sept. 24, Salem United Methodist Church in Clatonia. Carol will preach at her childhood church.

* 3-5 p.m. Sept. 26, reception/book event at Old Main on the Nebraska Wesleyan University Campus.

* 2 p.m. Oct 1, book event at the Scottsbluff Library in Scottsbluff.

10 steps to better friendship

1. Know yourself. When you know yourself, you can be more comfortable with yourself. Thus you can have positive feelings about other women and your relationships with them.

2. Be flexible. Women who are flexible can let go of their expectations about how a friendship should be shaped. Accept your friends for who and what they are.

3. Listen — really listen. Try listening with an open mind to what a friend is saying without running the words through filters, without thinking you know what she is going to say or without imagining she will unfairly criticize you.

4. Diversify your friendships. Many women have unrealistic expectations that a “best friend” can meet all their needs. No one person can meet all of our needs.

5. Avoid assuming. Many women are hurt because they make assumptions about things that aren’t correct or have nothing to do with them. For example, when a friend whispers to someone, people assume that friend is talking about them — in a bad way.

6. Don’t run away. Friendships are not perfect. Many times we aren’t willing to deal with tough times or confront problems openly. Our pride and fear get in the way.

7. Be truthful but kind. If you aren’t truthful with your friends, your friendships will likely be rather artificial. They won’t stand the test of time. But candor and straightforwardness require caution and care.

8. Have a sense of humor. If you can learn how to face problems with an appropriate sense of humor and laugh at yourself, you may find that you’ll avoid a lot of anguish and grief.

9. Learn to be tough enough. Try not to let words and actions that aren’t positive have an impact on you. Don’t take them personally or allow them to hurt you. Think about what may have been the intention behind the words.

10. Swallow your pride. When a friend hurts you, first try to take the high road and understand what is happening without being judgmental. If you can go a step further and forgive her, you may free yourself of the burden of carrying around extra baggage.

— Excerpted from “The Fabric of Friendship: Celebrating the Joys, Mending the Tears in Women’s Relationships” by Joy Carol


Article by Joy Carol in

Weaving the Fabric of Our Friendships
Joy Carol

 Click here

Have you ever lost a friend and didn't have a clue what happened? Have you and a friend had a disagreement that got blown out of proportion and suddenly you no longer talked to each other? Have you been shocked when a friend stopped communicating with you? At some time, most of us will experience a complication or miscommunication with a friend that may leave a scar on our hearts.

Alice and Ginger were inseparable best friends as they grew up. But when they were in their 40s, they had a conflict that tore their friendship apart. "Ginger and I were very close; we shared secrets and problems," explained Alice. "Not a week went by that we didn't talk. Then Ginger started acting strange. When I sent her e-mails, she didn't answer. If I called and asked to have lunch, she said she was busy and would get back to me. But she didn't.

"One day in the supermarket, I saw Ginger: 'I'm confused about what's going on. Is something wrong?' She just shrugged her shoulders and walked away. Over the next weeks, she ignored me. I finally reached her on the phone and was told we were no longer friends that she didn't want me around. I had no idea what had happened. Eventually I gave up on our friendship, but it was devastating. It left an enormous hole in my life." 

Undoubtedly this kind of break is very painful, especially if one friend decides to end the relationship without providing an opportunity to discuss what happened, what was misunderstood, or what could be changed. Losing a friendship can be as upsetting as experiencing the death of someone close to us. Yet, we rarely speak about it, nor do we feel comfortable discussing how we might deal with such losses. 

Sometimes when a friendship ends, we feel guilty, as if we did something wrong. We may pretend that the break never occurred. If someone notices and asks us what happened, we nervously answer, "we had a disagreement." And, like Alice, we try to change the subject. 

In contrast, when a relationship with a spouse or a lover ends, it's expected that we talk about it and cry about our pain. We're allowed to complain openly about the problems of infidelity, financial troubles, alcohol or drug abuse, and any other difficulties that caused the relationship to end. If we turn on our radio to a popular station, we hear songs about sweethearts getting away, about broken hearts scattered on the road of love. But such is not the case with friendship. Why is it so different? 

In strong friendships, we feel accepted, supported, and loved. These relationships are enjoyable and beneficial. Often, however, the experience of friendships can be confusing and complicated. They can be encouraging or debilitating, trusting or disloyal, joyful or painful. It's baffling that some friendships have the power to sustain people even more than their families do, while others can devastate and destroy.

When friendships shatter, there are other dimensions to consider. Possibly we feel grateful, even flattered, when people choose us as friends. So when a non-obligatory, non-family relationship ends, we may feel like a failure. Perhaps we believed friendships were less complicated and more stable than family or love-related relationships. Consequently, if we reveal that our friendships have ended, we are admitting that we drove our friends away because they saw our defects. Thus, talking about an "ex-friend" causes us to feel vulnerable and inferior.

Usually friendships develop because of shared interests or common values. We choose friends because they appeal to us or they represent the person who we long to be. So when we find someone we think will be our "special friend," it's an exciting and stimulating time. We hope the relationship won't be burdened with problems, and it's only natural that we expect our friend to be supportive, reassuring, and dependable. Consequently we endow friendships with a naïve and unrealistic trust that friends will be available to us as long as we need them. 

But there is no real basis for thinking friendships should last forever. In reality, there are many reasons why they end. For starters, friendships are just as complicated as family or love relationships. Unspoken feelings and needs, envy, competition, personal ambition, unresolved anger, and lack of boundaries can easily wreak havoc on relationships. Friends do move away emotionally and physically from each other into realms of life that might not be familiar or comfortable for both people. Occasionally we discover that our friends are totally different than the people we thought we knew. Sometimes our friends-or we ourselves-find something new and more exciting than what the friendship has to offer and move on. The reasons are myriad.

Without a doubt, the disintegration of a friendship can be painful and sometimes devastating. This loss can leave an empty space in our lives that is difficult to fill. It's unlikely that we'll find another person with the same temperament, personality, even the imperfections, that attracted us and brought about our relationship. 

However, it is possible and beneficial for us to learn how to have healthier relationships, so we won't run the risk of being disappointed, disillusioned, or hurt. Karen, a medical technician in her mid-twenties, explains how this can happen. "Isabel and I met in college and became close buddies; we had so much in common. We laughed and cried our way through boyfriends, exams, graduate work. We were always there supporting each other. We pledged to speak honestly with one another, even when it was difficult.

"At one point, I felt like Isabel wasn't there for me, that she had let me down. But I didn't want to tell her that she had hurt me. I wasn't accustomed to telling women anything negative. Soon I started drifting away from Isabel. I imagined how I would 'punish' her by leaving her. Then I came to my senses. I didn't want to lose her, because she had been a wonderful friend for a long time. How could I replace her friendship? 

"For a while, I avoided saying anything to Isabel. I was afraid I might say the wrong thing and make matters worse. Finally I realized how important it was for us to talk about what had happened and to work things out. So I got the courage to speak with her. I tried not to make her feel defensive, not to accuse her of letting me down, but to tell her that I felt let down. 

"Isabel was more open than I thought she would be. In fact, she was relieved that I opened the door to resolving our problem. This encounter actually strengthened our relationship. Now we're more willing to express concerns and air problems that come up rather than let them simmer under the pretense that all is well. I'm confident that in the future we will share openly our feelings and needs. Certainly my unwillingness to say what I felt almost caused our friendship to fail. I doubt we will ever be in danger of that happening again."

As Karen and Isabel's story points out, developing reliable, workable relationships requires a great deal of effort, courage to be honest, patience, and compassion-for our friends and ourselves. If we add doses of maturity and wisdom to the mix, we will be on our way to more satisfying friendships.

To enrich or improve the quality of our relationships, it's helpful if we recognize and understand what makes friendships more wholesome. Although there are many components that make up an authentic relationship, these three are especially important: 
1. Know and accept ourselves for the people we are
2. Be realistic about what "friendships" are
3. Learn to communicate our needs and feelings in healthy ways

1. Know and accept ourselves for the people we are

To have solid friendships, we first start by becoming familiar and comfortable with ourselves. Self-awareness and self-esteem are key ingredients in all relationships. If we know who we are, either we are satisfied with our own resources and talents, or we can try to improve and enhance them. When we have positive feelings about ourselves, we won't frantically cling to relationships for our self-worth. 

Another valuable benefit of self-acceptance is that we are less sensitive and defensive about criticism, disapproval, negative comments, or rejection. Small problems roll more easily off our backs, and we aren't as emotionally concerned about how we are perceived. We can recognize if harsh comments aimed at us are deserved or if they are misdirected or projected from someone's negative feelings about themselves. 

When we feel comfortable with ourselves, we can laugh at some of our silly reactions and less-than-wise endeavors. An "armor" of humor can protect us from a lot of anguish and grief while giving joy to others. 

2. Be realistic about what "friendships" are

Like life itself, friendships and friends are not perfect nor are they consistent; they have both good and bad qualities. When we know and accept ourselves, we are able to let go of unreasonable assumptions about what friendships should be, and we can appreciate friends for who they are with their strengths and weaknesses. Often what we want to believe is a "friend" really isn't, and it's difficult to determine whether someone is a real friend. True friends are there through good and bad times; they accept us when we aren't our best; they easily handle changes in our relationship; and they are open to talking over things that go awry. Some "friends" are women we've grown accustomed to having around, even though they might not be very caring or supportive. Others are essentially givers of pain and negative energy, but we still think of them as "friends." We need to examine this last category and decide whether to move on. 

Another unrealistic expectation is that our "best friend" can be all things for us. But that's not possible, nor healthy. No one friend, sister, spouse, or parent can be everything for anyone. Often women are disappointed and sometimes dumped, because a "best friend" couldn't meet their needs. Having a variety of friends will keep us more balanced and help us meet our diverse needs. As in every aspect of life, it's better not to put all our eggs in one basket. After all, most friendships do end at some time. Friends move, die, become ill, or get involved in all-consuming activities or relationships that don't allow time for us. So cultivating new friends is a good strategy.

By evaluating and recognizing friendships for what they are, we will find that some relationships are worth putting energy into and others are not worth pursuing. Occasionally no matter what we do, friends exit our lives without our ever knowing why. Such ex-friends may not be brave or mature enough to explain their reasons. Rather than stewing about that or endlessly struggling to reclaim the friendship, it's better to cut our losses and move on. With a more realistic perspective about friendship, we can approach relationships in a wholesome manner and enjoy them for what they truly are.

3. Learn to communicate our needs and feelings in healthy ways

Women who have self-worth are more capable of being truthful about their needs and feelings. Many women, out of their desire to be accepted, appear confused about what they want or need. They say what they think others want to hear. If we inform friends who we are and what our limits are, they likely will enjoy and respect the authentic us more than the counterfeit one. Also we can steer clear of being used by stating a firm no rather than a wishy-washy yes. Of course, we too need to respect our friends' limits and needs.

On the other hand, we may miss opportunities for growth, because we are too easily hurt. The potential to learn something about ourselves can be blocked by overreacting to critical comments or being thin-skinned. If we can openly consider our friends' suggestions and criticisms, we may learn something about ourselves. 

Although airing problems may seem risky, it's better than heading down the road of failed friendships. Talking about difficulties in non-accusatory tones and clarifying misunderstandings without inflicting guilt are healthy ways to resolve complications. Relationships become more workable when we use straightforward words that communicate what we mean rather than "beating around the bush." Friends appreciate not having to guess what we're saying. However, whenever we speak frankly, kindness should be practiced. Brutal honesty is cruel and damaging-and unnecessary. 

Finally, as singer Janis Joplin said, "Don't compromise yourself. You're all you've got." If we know and accept ourselves, are realistic about what "friendships" are, and clearly communicate our needs and feelings, we will have stronger, more wholesome friendships. 


Outlook Magazine 

December 5/12,2005 

Reviewed by Karen Pidcock-Lester

     If you have ever put the newspaper down after reading an account of some recent horror, and said aloud or to yourself, “How will these people carry on after this?  What will they do with all the anger and pain from this atrocity?” then here is a book for you.

     If you ever despair for this sin-saturated world and wonder if, in fact, evil does not often have the last word, then here is a book for you.

     Or, more practically speaking, you face the weekly task of mounting the steps to the pulpit and you need some fresh material to illustrate your sermon, then here is book for you.

     Joy Carol, spiritual director, author and counselor, gathers story after story from world communities which have endured the traumatic impact of “man’s inhumanity to man.”  These communities “responded to their dilemmas by courageously facing them or changing their reactions to them.” Through these “journeys of courage” the communities “underwent some kind of transformation, some kind of healing power.”

     This is storytelling, pure and simple.  Carol does not reach for extended theological reflection; she does not seek to offer Biblical connections.  In fact, she does not profess that this is a Christian book, per se, though many of the stories come from Christian communities of faith.

     Carol gathers these stories because she knows that “telling and hearing stories can be powerful medicine.” The stories of moral, spiritual, emotional courage are mined and shared to encourage others.  And they do.

     There are 17 stories in the book, that is, 17 accounts of have experienced healing and redemption arising out of suffering.  Ten of the accounts come from Carol’s current home-town, New York City, and relate to the horrors of September 11, 2001.  She sits with the sanitation workers who respectfully searched and removed millions of tons of debris from Ground Zero; with the member of the NYFD bagpipe band who played for 450 burials of fallen firefighters; with the firefighters of Firehouse 217 around their “kitchen table;” with the saints at St. Paul’s Chapel, that haven of hospitality which never closed during the grim aftermath of 9-11.

     The second half of the book is a collection of seven stories from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.  Carol brings to us the story of Bishop Willie Walsh of County Clare.  Bishop Walsh led a Pilgrimage of Reconciliation to repent for the sexual abuses of the Roman Catholic clergy of Ireland.  Every day from November 26 through December 19, 1999, in darkness and freezing rain, the bishop walked from parish church to parish church throughout his diocese, stopping at each to pray the liturgy of reconciliation.  Sometimes parishioners walked with him, sometimes he walked alone. At each place, he confessed the sins of the church and asked for the forgiveness of the people.  As a current resident of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, in which the clergy sexual abuse scandal continues to spiral into ever darker depths, I found this story of penitence by church leaders stunning.

     And there’s more:  stories from the H-block of the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland, from the Dochas Center of the Mountjoy Women’s Prison in the Republic of Ireland, from the Cuan Mhuire Addiction Center, the Survivors of Trauma Center, Corrymeela Community, and Restoration Ministries in Belfast. 

     The strength of the book is the people behind the stories.  Joy Carol has access to remarkable people, made even more remarkable by their ‘ordinariness.’  These are not people who stride large across the world stage:  these are men and women, and children, who are courageous enough to refuse to allow sin to defeat and define them, and so they strive to do the hard work of reconciliation and forgiveness.

     There are places where the reader may be inclined to think “this is sentimental or naïve.” Repeatedly, the moral of the story is that if people can just talk to their enemies, or talk about their traumatic experiences, reconciliation happens.

     But then the reader remembers that these are first-person accounts of men on the H-block of the Maze Prison, of women who have been raped, mothers whose sons have been blown to bits.  Who but these people can speak such things with authority?  Their credibility humbles and inspires us to learn from, and try to live by, their example.  Carol has done us a tremendous service in bringing them to us.

     I don’t recommend reading the book in one sitting.  To read straight through blunts the power of these remarkable stories, and runs the danger of rendering them trite because in the end, many impart the same message.  But taken one by one, the stories convey the tenacity of grace which draws healing out of the darkest corners of human existence. 

     Carol begins her book with a quote from the Dalai Lama:  “We human beings cannot survive alone.”  These journeys of courage testify to the power of community to help us survive trauma, war, abuse, grief – and not only to survive, but also, to heal.


Spirituality & Health Click here

Book Review

by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

Journeys of Courage: Remarkable Stories of the Healing Power of Community

Joy Carol
Sorin Books 3/04 Paperback $14.95
ISBN 1893732797

Starhawk has written: "Community means strength joins our strength to do the work that needs to be done. Arms to hold us when we falter. A circle of healing. A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free." At one time or another, each of us has been a member of a community that was animated to action or service. To feel the thrill of a group coming alive in a giving way is to sense the Divine working through us. Individuals who are heroes of conscience and compassion, who reach out in the darkness and bring in the light, are often recognized. But there are also communities of healing who bring hope to others by their deeds of love.

Joy Carol, the author of Towers of Hope: Stories to Help Us Heal has gathered together a collection of stories about the healing power of community. Many of them are from New York City in the aftermath of September 11, when firemen, pastoral care givers, sanitation workers, and teachers found within themselves the call to serve and opened their hearts in courage and compassion. As Carol notes: "Healing stories can help us expand our consciousness so that we can see our lives and the world in new ways. Yes, telling and hearing stories can be powerful medicine."

The last two sections of the book contain touching and compelling stories about creative and sensitive souls who are trying to deal with the continuing legacy of "the Troubles" — the issues and fissures in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland brought on by violence, isolation, addiction, and fear"

Every storyteller needs a good listener. Joy Carol has proven in this book (as she did in her first book) that she knows the meaning of paying full attention to the storyteller and taking their messages to a wider world. In these tense times, we need more sensitive listeners and more healing stories. We especially appreciated the list of factors that the author believes can contribute to the healing of communities. Here are a few of them:

  • "Being open to change and new possibilities even when it may appear very difficult, being willing to respond to problems and dilemmas by transforming the situation.
  • "Accepting that problems, pain, and suffering are part of the life of a community, of being in the world, that they are not isolated events and cannot be avoided. Such an acceptance enables our communities to approach problems and use painful and difficult events to learn to grow and mature…
  • "Treating all people with dignity, respect and compassion — ourselves included — even when people are regarded as inadequate, as unworthy, as addicts or criminals."

Journeys of Courage might just have a ripple effect with readers and inspire them to do what they can to extend the circle of compassion to those who are suffering, or to those who remain isolated outside of traditional communities.


Spirituality & Health Click here

Book Review

by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

Towers of Hope: Stories to Help Us Heal

Joy Carol
Forest of Peace Publishing/Ave Maria Press. Ave Maria Press has bought out Forest of Peace.
01/02 Paperback $14.95
ISBN 0-939516-59-4

“Who is a holy person?” the poet Kabir asks. “The one who is aware of others’ suffering.” All of the world’s religions advise us to be sensitive to the troubles of others. To be oblivious to the suffering of our neighbors is to be locked up in a tower of isolation and pride.

In Towers of Hope: Stories to Help Us Heal, Joy Carol presents a spiritual alternative: to learn from those who have passed through the fires of adversity and come out with a renewed appreciation for the preciousness of life. The author, a spiritual director and workshop leader, who had three close encounters with death in three years, has gathered a heart-affecting and edifying collection of stories about individuals who transformed what appeared to be hopeless situations into healing experiences. She shares the personal accounts, mostly in their own words, of how these broken and hurting souls moved from their losses and disabilities toward hope, meaning, and wholeness. In the apt words of Frederick Buechner, these people were “good stewards” of their difficulties and pain.

Carol begins with the stories of a young man who died in the World Trade Center disaster and the account of a courageous man who was cured of his severe case of shingles while helping the victims. Some of the other inspiring narratives are by a Vietnam vet who has experienced healing by working with both Americans and Vietnamese injured by the war; a woman traumatized by the troubles in Northern Ireland who found meaning in forgiveness; a Native American medicine man in Canada who has a knack for finding wisdom in his trials and tribulations; a “so-called colored” couple damaged by apartheid in South Africa whose faith in God pulled them through; a wealthy businessman whose bad choice of drinking and driving one night killed a young man and who came to terms with his strengths and weaknesses while serving time in prison; a victim of multiple sclerosis and her husband who optimistically reframed their adversities; and a woman whose courage in the face of terminal illness inspired all who came in contact with her. The last account is Carol's own about her close encounters with death and the epiphanies she received about "healing for meaningful living and for peaceful dying."

The author expands the horizons of our understanding of healing with these stories, helping us to see it as becoming whole, being open to change, reconnecting lost aspects of ourselves, being empowered by the Divine, having faith and hope, finding inner peace, forgiving ourselves and others, and discovering love. Towers of Hope: Stories to Help Us Heal by Joy Carol is good medicine for your soul, especially in these times of anxiety and insecurity.

Purchase: 1-800-659-3227 or online at