“Virginia’s life journey reflects the pressing need for all of us to reexamine our deeply held assumptions about the meaning of effective leadership, the role of peacemakers in violent and nonviolent conflict zones, and the meaning of spirituality and its link to building peace individually and collectively. Her life story can inspire us in how to overcome our struggle to build and sustain difficult relationships, especially within the context of international and intergovernmental organizations who tend to resist transformative change. Virginia’s message of practicing love and compassion is crucial to effectively meet the challenges we face.” – Dr. Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Professor of Peace and Conflict Resolution, American University, Washington, DC, and Senior Advisor, KAICIID International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue, Vienna
“I can’t thank you enough for all the good work you have done, the books you have written and all you continue to do in the service of peace, leadership and the human family. I came upon this verse for you from Psalm 40:7-10. ‘Then I said, Here I am, I have come. It is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is written within my heart. I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know, O Lord. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart. I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth from the great assembly.’ Your light shines so brightly, Virginia, and you have helped feed many other people’s flames as well. May the blessings keep showering down upon your soul and the world.” – Brooke Bishara Belcher, Reconciliation Leader and Former Teacher, Bancroft School, Mountain View, California
“Virginia Swain has given us an inspiring spiritual autobiography that interweaves a journey of personal healing with a divinely-inspired engagement in healing humanity’s collective wounds through Reconciliation Leadership and the Peacebuilding Process of Reconciliation.” – Russell Boulding, author of ‘Preparing Ourselves for the Great Shift’ (2008) and editor of ‘Elise Boulding: A Pioneer in Peace Research, Peacemaking, Feminism, Future Studies and the Family’ (2008), Indianapolis, Indiana
“Virginia Swain’s newest book is a gift. She shares her life journey – with the difficulties and resources she encountered – from emotional/spiritual crisis, through relationship issues, vocational and spiritual journeying, to exploring how we can be part of healing our country and our world. It’s a journey into reconciliation, forgiveness and new possibilities, shared in such a way we readers can identify with her and so find something of ourselves we’ve overlooked. This is a powerfully honest and yet very gentle book, a blessing with many insights and how-to practices that touched this reader’s soul and may well touch yours too.” – Dr. Michael Britton, Counseling Psychologist, Board of Trustees, Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies
“This spiritual memoir by Virginia Swain is a gift to the reader. It is beautifully written. The candor she shares of her personal journey is filled with insights that support each of us in exploring our own unique paths. At the conclusion of each chapter is a question that reflects what she has written but more importantly, draws the reader to deeper reflection. It is a book to read, enjoy, and reread with many useful resources listed at the conclusion.” – Jane Cutting, Interfaith Activist, Charlton, MA
“Virginia Swain is more than an amazing author and teacher. She is a world leader, a peace-maker whose words can activate the same visions and qualities within others’ hearts. Just as she rose like a Phoenix, her story can help us all do the same.” – Cyndi Dale, author of over 20 books, including The Subtle Body series, Minneapolis, Minnesota
“When I finished reading the manuscript, I had the sense that I’d just been given The Answer. Not just another first-person experience of the tragedy that was 9/11. But an intimate look into a life that is lived very intentionally under the auspices of God. The author’s awareness of Jesus in her everyday living, the time she devotes to going away into the wilderness, the silence she cultivates so that she can hear God speaking are extraordinary to the minds of ordinary people. Most moving is that she knows she will hear and be heard, and she responds ‘Yes!’ with her whole being every time. Swain knows what the world needs now — and invites the reader to say ‘Yes!’ to the invitation to join her in deep listening with open hearts.’’ – Wendy Driscoll, M.Div., Westborough, MA
“Virginia Swain is extraordinary. I have known her for thirty years. She has been relentless in her commitment to transform life on this planet. Her dedication to empowering and training international leaders is unparalleled, in my experience. She has reinvented herself time and again as she has discerned her limits and then has endeavored to develop her own leadership, with transparency and without apology. She is consistently able to create partnerships with movers and shakers wherever she happens to be.” – The Rev. Eileen Epperson, Salisbury, Ct.
“In ‘My Soul’s Journey to Redefine Leadership, A New Phoenix Rises from the Ashes of 9/11′ Virginia has given us a glimpse into her inner life – her soul’s regeneration (to use a Swedenborgian term) – and it is exciting, awe-inspiring and deeply, personally relevant since this is the journey we are all called to make if we would become our best selves. Imagine the possibilities for our nation and the world as more and more human beings are called to develop their spiritual selves and humbly listen to their inner Voice. A life changing, soul affirming transformation took place in Virginia’s life – taking her from the brink of despair, disillusionment and thoughts of suicide – to creative and meaningful work with the United Nations, Imagine Worcester, Reconciliation Leadership counseling, and even finding her ‘beloved.’ These miraculous changes are available to all of us. Read the book, answer the questions at the end of the chapters, and be still. Listen for your unique possibilities. What beautiful Phoenix rises from the ashes of your old life?” – Janet Farrell, Wife, Caregiver, Volunteer, Swedenborgian, Sturbridge, Massachusetts
“Reading the book in virtually one sitting, I see ‘My Soul’s Journey to Redefine Leadership’ as an adventure story. It’s like a Jason Bourne thriller, but without the violence. It’s a blazing, amazing, instructive and inspiring story and you open up aspiring spiritual beings to a new world view.” – Robert Kauffman, Kauffman Design, Atlanta, Georgia
“Virginia’s courage to share her life journey in defining spiritual leadership will serve to inspire countless others who seek to bring these qualities into their own and others’ lives.” – Gioia Persuitte, Shrewsbury, MA
“I admire your courage and willingness to choose a path of healing.” – Bernie Siegel, MD, Founder, Exceptional Cancer Patients and Author, ‘Love, Medicine and Miracles and Prescriptions for Living’
“A chronicle of a soul-searching, spirit-guided life showing how a deep love of humanity is beautifully expressed through a life of service based on compassion.” – Iris Spellings, Representative to the United Nations, Peace Through Unity, Brooklyn, New York
“Make no mistake: although Virginia recounts her burgeoning self-awareness through her faith, personal experiences, and fascinating career path, this book is not about her. It’s actually about you. It’s clear from the first pages that her real, albeit unattainable, wish in this world is to get to know each and every one of us. She warmly invites us to reflect on our own lives and paths as we join her in hers, as if we’ve reunited with an old friend for a soothing heart-to-heart.” – Mary Waggoner-Moritz, French to English translator and World Café host, Grandfontaine, France
“‘Phoenix’ describes the spiritual and emotional evolution of Virginia’s conscience awareness. Virginia’s ability to reflect and adapt from her rich experiences molds her into a confident leader and peacemaker throughout her journey on life. Her revelations throughout the journey allow the reader to self-assess and ultimately inspires the question ‘How can I make my mark and connect the world through harmony?’ We learn from Virginia that life is precious and that we have an opportunity to make a true impact on the lives of others.” – Juan Zhong, Psychologist, Glastonbury, CT
“Virginia beautifully weaves together her deep and powerful spiritual experience with an attainable vision for transformational leadership in the world. Her use of imagery and symbol creates a powerful dialogue with the need of the world and personal suffering. This is not an easy connection to articulate and Virginia does so gracefully.” Teresa Rhodes McGee, International Non-Profit Senior Management, Ossining, NY
“Virginia is an amazing and inspiring woman with a powerful story to tell.” Lisa Tener, Book Coach, Saunderstown, RI
“My name is Gilles Asselin and I am one of the few fortunate people Virginia has trained to become Reconciliation Leaders. The year was 2004, sixteen years ago. It feels like an eternity when I attempt to look back. One of my most vivid memories, experiential soul that I am, was attending a workshop in Rhode Island called Work, Purpose, Place and Peace. Out of an exercise aimed at reviewing our inner assets, jumped at me this beautiful soul quality of Simplicity—an asset I inherited from my parents. They lived a simple life and they raised my brother and I quite simply, removed—or shall I say ‘protected’—from the glamour of the world.
Honestly, I haven’t had much of a chance to reflect upon what I learned with Virginia. At age forty-three, 2004 was a year when I was searching for my true self and I did obtain some insights and answers in the following years. I can now tell that it wasn’t a sense of professional direction I was looking for; rather a sense of who I was deep down coupled with a strong desire for spiritual freedom. Virginia’s Reconciliation Leadership Certificate Program was beneficial to me, due to its wholesome nature, yet I must admit I haven’t reconciled much in these sixteen years; except perhaps, resolving a few personal or family dilemmas while sitting at various crossroads.
Now that I’ve read Virginia’s book cover to cover and copied what I consider the gist of what she shared with us—the words that speak to me most—I can tell that a seed was planted in 2004. I am not sure if it’s a Reconciliation seed—perhaps more of a political seed—but it is something that wants to express itself, in its own shapes and colors.
I don’t know at this point what this seed will turn into and what my “role in reconciliation” will be. Having unrooted myself from my country of birth a long time ago, I feel devoted to working with and for the world, or for humanity, and not so much for or within a specific country.
At the beginning of 2020, Virginia started ‘activating’ our community of Reconciliation Leaders with monthly virtual gatherings. That sudden initiative cannot be a mere coincidence and there must be a profound, divine reason for that call. Future will tell.
As we could easily say, the future is yet to come. And what a beautiful future it will be!” Gilles Asselin, International Consultant, Fairfax, VA
“Virginia Swain’s memoir traces the second half of her life as she develops from an ordinary person with an ordinary life to an ordinary person with extraordinary experiences. It is a relatively short book but filled with instances of intense engagement in the issues of our time as well as profound reflections and realizations.
The early parts of the book are very moving and often astonishing. After great suffering and desperate seeking, Swain discovers her inner voice and receives messages from Christ, the Holy Spirit, and others including White Buffalo Woman that clarify her life’s vocation. Defining politicians as carriers of love, justice, truth, and forgiveness to the world, she devises strategies and comes up with projects to realize her political vision. Taking on war, global inequality, environmental destruction, the lack of empowerment of women and minorities, the traumas of victims of ethnic conflict, and people’s feelings of disenfranchisement and isolation, she doesn’t waver in carry out her vocation. When the challenges seem overwhelming, her inner voice provides refuge and support and Christ gives companionship and inspiration.
The central thread running through the whole book is the need to come up with new ways of understanding and practicing leadership. At a time when our ability to flourish and even survive are in doubt, the old models clearly don’t work. In this context, Swain’s ideas about the new leadership are so refreshing and timely. In a vision in which the Holy Spirit spoke to her, she was told that healing the relationship between men and women is the first step toward humanity’s recovery. The U.S. Constitution must evolve by including gender equality, a key dimension that has been missing from the founding document. The implication for leadership is that the masculine principle will no longer be dominant; instead, it will be integrated with the feminine principle that is creative, imaginative, and spiritual.
What stands out for me are her total dedication to her life’s vocation. This dedication is manifested in her willingness to travel, take courses, undergo training, and do whatever it takes to prepare herself for the tasks ahead. What also heartens me is her invitation to join her in her current project, America’s Soul Café. Her hope is that through such initiatives all of us will awaken our own souls to reconcile a divided nation, empower its people, and restore faith in its ideals.
At the personal level, the universality of Swain’s spiritual experience, and her never blaming others or indulging in negative emotions drew me in. At the political level, I was intrigued by her realistic assessment of the challenges facing the world coupled with her willingness to work through mainstream institutions such as the UN where she has been active for more than 25 years. There is a creative tension between her unsparing criticisms of the rich and the powerful and her refusal to invent solutions that have no chance of being enacted. Out of this tension, flexible approaches to seemingly intractable problems arise. I found her a trustworthy guide both to the inner, spiritual realms and the outer, worldly realms, since she doesn’t slight the value of either.
For those who believe that the integration of the spiritual with the practical dimensions of life is the major challenge of our time, this is an indispensable book. As Swain points out, the present social and political dysfunction cannot be overcome unless we deal with our own unconscious conflicts and confront our shadow. Her parting message is that a well-lived life can also be ours by taking up her invitation to awaken our souls and contribute to social and political renewal. We, too, can become ordinary people with extraordinary experiences.” William Kelly, Los Angeles, CA