Welcome to the April 2013 Edition of the Laconneau
Quarterly Newsletter.


• Sentier de Laconneau
• Reflections on the 2012 Sentier de Laconneau
Embraced by the Divine Feminine, by Carl McNichols
• Laconneau Spring Festival
• Feature Article
• Marge's Musings
• Recommended Reading
• Regional News
• Upcoming National Laconneau Classes/Seminars
• Upcoming Local Circle Events
• Contact Laconneau


Monday, September 23 - Wednesday, October 2, 2013


This autumn, we are pleased to once again announce the Sentier de Laconneau, a pilgrimage aimed at taking its participants on a living journey through the history of the Tradition. Starting at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, we will retrace the steps of the Tradition's founders that led eventually to its final home deep in the mountains of the Languedoc.

Our view of pilgrimage is a journey undertaken not in an air-conditioned coach, but rather on foot in a manner that allows the participant to truly experience the land and its history. Participants on the Sentier de Laconneau will walk the trails and mountains that have for so long been the Tradition's home and perhaps in so doing even discover something of great value hidden deep within themselves. We will also cater for those who, either by choice or necessity, would prefer a more relaxed and less strenuous trip. Each day, apart from our traditional hiking activity, those who wish to avail themselves of a less strenuous form of transportation than on foot will be able to tour the same sites by car in the company of a qualified guide who will provide historical background information and lectures on each site. All costs for both groups will remain as advertised.

For more information or to register, please contact Alex at alexg@laconneau.org.


From October 1 through October 10, 2012, eleven women and one man from the United States participated in the Sentier de Laconneau in southern France. We started the trip hiking through the highlands of the Massif de la Sainte-Baume and from there, we traveled westward into the mountain heartland of southwestern France for the remainder of the trip, hiking between 15 and 35 kilometers at a time. What follows are the thoughts of some of those who participated in the Sentier.

My first trip to the South of France was filled with light from beginning to end.  When we got off the plane in Marseille, one of my first impressions was that the light in that place seemed different somehow.  That impression proved to be a lasting one.

Yes, the weather was wonderful throughout our stay, and the pollution less than I am accustomed to at home; so it was no surprise that the sky was clearer, but the quality of the light was different – softer but brighter and more intense at the same time.

Light manifested itself in a variety of ways throughout my journey.

  • There was the light of anticipation and wonder in the eyes of my travelling companions.
  • There was light in the eyes of the people of the Languedoc who were so welcoming and so willing to help, despite my poor mastery of the French language and theirs of English.  Life there seems simpler, less frantic, and people live more in the moment, providing me with an opportunity to do likewise.
  • There was the light that came with discovering new things about myself as I undertook an altogether new level of physically demanding hiking.
  • There was the light provided in conversation, interaction, sharing meals, and just putting one foot in front of the other on the trail with my companions.
  • Most profound was the light shed by the land itself and the sacred places I visited.

I came home and brought some of that light with me.  After we returned, one of my companions mentioned that those who went on the trip seemed to come home with a certain glow in their eyes.  I noticed that about myself and others, and I also noticed a lightness in my step.  Knowing how easy it would be to lose that, my motto became “keep the glow.”  Alas, the glow has faded with the demands of day to day life, but part of the awareness I brought back is knowing that the light is mine to absorb and to reflect in the world – and that I can open myself to that and have it back.  It is about choosing the Light.
~ Rebecca – Washington, DC

I must say that my trip was frustrating, exhausting and exhilarating. Let me explain.  All that I heard before going was that we did a lot of walking and that I should be prepared to be able to walk fifteen miles in a day. Also, I was told, "Don't worry, you can do it".  Well, I did do it, but I wasn't prepared for the strenuous hill climbing that was required. I did almost all my training on fairly level terrain, which did not prepare me properly. This meant that some of the climbing was the hardest thing I had done physically since I finished basic training in the US Army 46 years ago. That is the exhausting and frustrating part.

Let me tell you about the exhilarating part.  The wonderful camaraderie I felt with all the Sisters as we struggled and sweated together, the joy we felt when accomplishing a difficult climb and the laughter and relationship building we did together. I was impressed with all the sharing and help offered as someone always stayed back with a slower walker.  No one was ever left behind! On the days we toured by van, we enjoyed beautiful scenery in the mountains, small villages and historic sights. Our leader is so well versed in the history of the region, so we received a wonderful education as well. We had dinner at the inn every night and the food was superb. Many of the pictures we took were of the food.  It was presented beautifully and tasted even better.

I would recommend that anyone going on this trip in the future prepare better than I did. I would start by walking trails that had some steep hills and walking up steps for an hour or so after walking for three or four hours.

I enjoyed the trip immensely and will do it again.  I had a favorite saying: "The ecstasy has to be worth the agony".  Well, it was worth it and with better training the agony would have been greatly diminished.
~ Carl – Atlanta, GA

The journey goes on
Every step a beginning
A new path to tread
A new way of being
In the world.
Alone on the path
The freedom is thrilling
Each moment a gift
Bringing joy and pain
As life unfurls.

Breathe in the fresh air
The sights are astounding
These colors so bright
Give a new way of seeing
To our world.
The senses are keen
Emotions abounding
Perception is heightened
Clarity has new meaning
As a word.

Look left and look right
Together we’re climbing
Each one gives a hand
The best way of acting
In our world.
Some slow, others fast
We all keep on going
No one left behind
Everyone’s included
All are heard.

We stumble and fall
Get up and keep moving
As lessons are learned
The new way of walking
In the world.
Let go of the fear
The past holds us backwards
Nothing behind us
And nothing in front as
Ages turn.

The journey goes on
Every step is an ending
Each day offers more
Gives new understanding
Of our world.
As worlds intersect
Begin comprehending
Reality is now
Going on forever
If we’ve learned

~ Rai – Greenville, NC

For me, the Sentier de Laconneau 2012 was both a homecoming and a home-going; it seemed to be an opportunity to discover previously unknown roots and to return home to a physical place that had been calling to me for over two decades.  The extraordinary beauty of southern France, the time spent with my spiritual family, the physical challenges - words cannot begin to do justice to my experiences there.
Imagine my joy 30 minutes after arriving in Marseille to see one of my sisters, then another and another as we gathered together to begin our journey to Arles on a beautiful fall morning.  Shortly after arriving in Arles, we ventured down to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on the Mediterranean and saw the area where the Migdalah began her travels in France.  The next day, we hiked and climbed to the top of Ste. Baume where Miriam stayed to recover from her perilous journey. My strongest memories of that mountain are of the laughter of school children who were there on a field trip, friendly mountain goats, the kindness of my sisters as we trekked down the mountainside.
On our third day, we ventured westward to La Couvertoriade, a lovely, medieval walled village, and on to Cucugnan, our home base for the remainder of the trip.  The next day took us to Peyrepertuse, one of the Cathar castles.  I struggled mightily in my climb, but with patience, encouragement, and kindness from my spiritual family, I actually made it to the inside of the fortification.  As I said many a time, "It wasn't pretty, but I did it!"

Our forays into the Galamus gorge, to Arques, Queribus, Puivert, Puilaurens, to the Troubador Museum, to sites sacred to our tradition---all are cherished memories of camaraderie, mental and physical challenges, a strong sense of awe, and appreciation for all those who have kept the teachings of Yeshua and Miriam through the ages in such challenging circumstances.  I plan to return.
~ Judy – Atlanta, GA

A good time was had by all
Seems trite, even small

Yet what does that take --
Certainly nothing you can fake

Sweating, limping, gasping for air
And yet to be fair

How can one view what is profound?
Certainly not by clinging to the ground!

A motley group to be sure
Yet with hearts strong and pure

Comrades on the trail
No time to be frail

Climbing to the peak
The rewards we did reap

A good time was had by all
And now we stand tall

~ Betty – Greenville, NC

Walking the Sentier is unlike any other trip I have ever been on. Seeing the history of the tradition from the 1st Century to the 20th Century in the stone, statues, caves, and castles enriches my understanding of the enduring message.
Then, working the body to my full effort until the sweat is no longer noticed to reach mountain views that settle deep in my bones strengthens me. And to do all of this while developing a group camaraderie that enriches friendships with laughter and caring is so rewarding. At end the day we are rewarded with excellent food that is picture perfect and tastes like France. Thank goodness we hike all day!

Stretching to meet challenges on this trip help me to grow within and without in a way that no other trip can do. I came home with a new sparkle in my eyes.
~ Jan – Greenville, NC

Within the darkness of the soul
Lies the heart of the Mother.
In searching for this heart,
the darkness fades into light.
At once a careful leaning of the spirit
Leads one down the sacred path.
Embracing the entire journey
Clarity reveals itself.
In the pristine beauty of the Pyrenees,
I walked with the Mother.
She smiled at me from within caves,
deep gorges and castles in the clouds.
She beckoned me on
to climb to new heights.
She nudged me on with
Gentle teasing when I fell.
She showed me where and how
My spiritual ancestors lived and died.
She taught me what was worth
Fighting for.
She surrounded me with friends
To share in the challenges and joy.
Together we tested our limits,
And found strength.
Such is the Sentier de Laconneau.

~ Moira – Washington, DC

In this moment, I feel as though I will travel to France on the Sentier next year and each year after that. It is my time to connect with my sisters and brothers, to reflect on my life and how I'm living it, to immerse myself in the place that feels more and more like home, to challenge myself physically, thereby in all ways, and to listen. I come home and I change what's not working, or least become aware of what stops me. I am ever-grateful for Jehanne, Alex, and Anna for all they do to make this Sentier possible. And for my sisters and brother who join me on the trails and screes. I learned a new word this year: “scree”, while learning how to properly descend it.
~ Seoka – Chicago, IL


By Carl McNichols

My journey toward Laconneau began more than three and a half years ago when I met my wife, Judy. As we began to know each other, we both found that spirituality was very important to us and spent many hours discussing religion and spirituality.  My life’s journey had brought me to an understanding that Christianity, in its present-day format, just did not work for me.  As I studied other world religions, I gravitated towards Buddhism; I read many books on how to increase awareness and how to live in the present moment.  The methods that were taught were all different and seemed too complicated to even begin to try to follow any of them.

Shortly after Judy and I began dating, she shared with me that she belonged to a women’s spiritual studies group called Laconneau.  I asked a few questions, read the brochures and looked at the website; basically, I thought it was nice that she had a group of friends.  I met some of her friends at the Gainesville, Georgia, circle where I was impressed with their friendliness, love, compassion, and their acceptance of me.  Because of their kindness, I began attending the circle’s gatherings.  I thoroughly enjoyed the food, the fellowship, and the group reading of the Gospel of Thomas.  While the women would be having their moon ceremony, I would watch TV in another room and play with Luna (once a bit loudly and I was appropriately reprimanded).Explain who Luna is.  Otherwise, this doesn’t make sense.

I was invited to attend an “Enlightenment” seminar in Gainesville, GA; my memory of what was discussed in that class is dim but I do remember the feeling of peacefulness in the room and felt that I had an opportunity to grow in ways that I had never considered before.  I continued to attend the circle meetings and felt a part of the group even though I did not yet attend the moon ceremonies.  When the Gospel of the Beloved Companion (GBC) was published, we began reading and discussing it each time we got together.  It was during this time that I began to feel that Laconneau was more than just a nice group of women.  I had always felt that someone had gotten it all wrong in the Bible, but in studying the GBC Yeshua’s and the Migdalah’s teachings sounded so right and I also recognized many of the principles I had read while studying the Buddha’s teachings.  I loved reading the GBC and have attended several of the GBC seminars taught by Jehanne.

Earlier this year, I was told that for the first time in over 700 years, men would be accepted into the Tradition and I was invited to attend the summer Magdalene Festival.  I did so and had a wonderful experience.  The sisters all accepted me graciously; I felt great warmth and kindness all weekend.  Even a little good-natured kidding regarding head coverings in the Chapelle was in order. 

Prior to the festival, I was told that men were also invited to go on the Sentier de Laconneau.  Since Judy had already committed to the Sentier, I decided to sign up for the trip as well.  The trip was indescribable!  I was the only male on this trip but I felt thoroughly accepted by my eleven sisters.  We all got along so well and built strong camaraderie as we endured tough physical challenges and toured the beautiful country together.  The bonds of friendship and of unity built on that trip will not be broken nor will the experiences be forgotten.

I now consider myself a full-fledged member of Laconneau and embrace its principles wholeheartedly.  The degree and level of spirituality I have attained since associating with this group seemed beyond my reach a few years ago.  We also have fun!  I would like to see more men embrace the Tradition and to realize the benefits, as I have, of associating with these wonderful people and practicing the teachings of the Tradition.


Friday, April 26 - Sunday, April 28, 2013
Greenville, NC
For students who have completed the Level I course, "Enlightenment" seminar, or "Teachings" seminar

Spring Festival marks the beginning of summer.  As with the Autumn Festival, this is a time between dark and light, night and day, winter and summer.  We are holding the Spring Festival in full accord with the principles of our Tradition and invite both women and men to participate.  Come join us for this wonderful weekend of council discussion, workshops, feminine spirituality and festivities. Lend your voice to the power and love of other sisters and brothers such as yourself who feel a burning need to see change in this world.

The fee for the festival is $275.00.  Please also budget $25.00 per day to cover lunches and other expenses.  Housing is available in the homes of the Greenville sisters and in hotels in the area.  For more details, please contact Rai at The.Carolinas@laconneau.org.


By John Blake, CNN
Saturday, March 9, 2013

The pilot glanced outside his cockpit and froze. He blinked hard and looked again, hoping it was just a mirage. But his co-pilot stared at the same horrible vision.

"My God, this is a nightmare," the co-pilot said.

"He's going to destroy us," the pilot agreed.

The men were looking at a gray German Messerschmitt fighter hovering just three feet off their wingtip. It was five days before Christmas 1943, and the fighter had closed in on their crippled American B-17 bomber for the kill.

The B-17 pilot, Charles Brown, was a 21-year-old West Virginia farm boy on his first combat mission. His bomber had been shot to pieces by swarming fighters, and his plane was alone in the skies above Germany. Half his crew was wounded, and the tail gunner was dead, his blood frozen in icicles over the machine guns.

But when Brown and his co-pilot, Spencer "Pinky" Luke, looked at the fighter pilot again, something odd happened. The German didn't pull the trigger. He nodded at Brown instead. What happened next was one of the most remarkable acts of chivalry recorded during World War II. Years later, Brown would track down his would-be executioner for a reunion that reduced both men to tears.

Living by the code

People love to hear war stories about great generals or crack troops such as Seal Team 6, the Navy unit that killed Osama bin Laden. But there is another side of war that's seldom explored: Why do some soldiers risk their lives to save their enemies and, in some cases, develop a deep bond with them that outlives war?

And are such acts of chivalry obsolete in an age of drone strikes and terrorism?

Those are the kinds of questions Brown's story raises. His encounter with the German fighter pilot is beautifully told in a New York Times best-selling book, "A Higher Call." The book explains how that aerial encounter reverberated in both men's lives for more than 50 years.

"The war left them in turmoil," says Adam Makos, who wrote the book with Larry Alexander. "When they found each other, they found peace."

Their story is extraordinary, but it's not unique. Union and Confederate troops risked their lives to aid one another during the Civil War. British and German troops gathered for post-war reunions; some even vacationed together after World War II. One renowned American general traveled back to Vietnam to meet the man who almost wiped out his battalion, and the two men hugged and prayed together.

What is this bond that surfaces between enemies during and after battle?

It's called the warrior's code, say soldiers and military scholars. It's shaped cultures as diverse as the Vikings, the Samurai, the Romans and Native Americans, says Shannon E. French, author of "Code of the Warrior."

The code is designed to protect the victor, as well as the vanquished, French says.

"People think of the rules of war primarily as a way to protect innocent civilians from being victims of atrocities," she says. "In a much more profound sense, the rules are there to protect the people doing the actual fighting."

The code is designed to prevent soldiers from becoming monsters. Butchering civilians, torturing prisoners, desecrating the enemies' bodies -- are all battlefield behaviors that erode a soldier's humanity, French says.

The code is ancient as civilization itself. In Homer's epic poem, "The Iliad," the Greek hero Achilles breaks the code when his thirst for vengeance leads him to desecrate the body of his slain foe, the Trojan hero Hector.

Most warrior cultures share one belief, French says:

"There is something worse than death, and one of those things is to completely lose your humanity."

The code is still needed today, French says.

Thousands of U.S. soldiers returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. Some have seen, and have done, things that are unfathomable.

A study of Vietnam veterans showed that those who felt as if they had participated in dishonorable behavior during the war or saw the Vietnamese as subhuman experienced more post-traumatic stress disorder, French says.

Drone warfare represents a new threat to soldiers' humanity, French says.

The Pentagon recently announced it would award a new Distinguished Warfare Medal to soldiers who operate drones and launch cyberattacks. The medal would rank above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, two medals earned in combat.

At least 17,000 people have signed an online petition protesting the medal. The petition says awarding medals to soldiers who wage war via remote control was an "injustice" to those who risked their lives in combat.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta defended the new medal at a February news conference.

"I've seen firsthand how modern tools, like remotely piloted platforms and cybersystems, have changed the way wars are fought," Panetta says. "And they've given our men and women the ability to engage the enemy and change the course of battle, even from afar."

Still, critics ask, is there any honor in killing an enemy by remote control?

French isn't so sure.

"If [I'm] in the field risking and taking a life, there's a sense that I'm putting skin in the game," she says. "I'm taking a risk so it feels more honorable. Someone who kills at a distance -- it can make them doubt. Am I truly honorable?"

The German pilot who took mercy

Revenge, not honor, is what drove 2nd Lt. Franz Stigler to jump into his fighter that chilly December day in 1943.

Stigler wasn't just any fighter pilot. He was an ace. One more kill and he would win The Knight's Cross, German's highest award for valor.

Yet Stigler was driven by something deeper than glory. His older brother, August, was a fellow Luftwaffe pilot who had been killed earlier in the war. American pilots had killed Stigler's comrades and were bombing his country's cities.

Stigler was standing near his fighter on a German airbase when he heard a bomber's engine. Looking up, he saw a B-17 flying so low it looked like it was going to land. As the bomber disappeared behind some trees, Stigler tossed his cigarette aside, saluted a ground crewman and took off in pursuit.

As Stigler's fighter rose to meet the bomber, he decided to attack it from behind. He climbed behind the sputtering bomber, squinted into his gun sight and placed his hand on the trigger. He was about to fire when he hesitated. Stigler was baffled. No one in the bomber fired at him.

He looked closer at the tail gunner. He was still, his white fleece collar soaked with blood. Stigler craned his neck to examine the rest of the bomber. Its skin had been peeled away by shells, its guns knocked out. He could see men huddled inside the plane tending the wounds of other crewmen.

Then he nudged his plane alongside the bomber's wings and locked eyes with the pilot whose eyes were wide with shock and horror.

Stigler pressed his hand over the rosary he kept in his flight jacket. He eased his index finger off the trigger. He couldn't shoot. It would be murder.

Stigler wasn't just motivated by vengeance that day. He also lived by a code. He could trace his family's ancestry to knights in 16th century Europe. He had once studied to be a priest.

A German pilot who spared the enemy, though, risked death in Nazi Germany. If someone reported him, he would be executed.

Yet Stigler could also hear the voice of his commanding officer, who once told him:

"You follow the rules of war for you -- not your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your humanity."

Alone with the crippled bomber, Stigler changed his mission. He nodded at the American pilot and began flying in formation so German anti-aircraft gunners on the ground wouldn't shoot down the slow-moving bomber. (The Luftwaffe had B-17s of its own, shot down and rebuilt for secret missions and training.) Stigler escorted the bomber over the North Sea and took one last look at the American pilot. Then he saluted him, peeled his fighter away and returned to Germany.

"Good luck," Stigler said to himself. "You're in God's hands."

What creates the bond between enemies?

Stigler was able to recognize the common humanity of the enemy when he locked eyes with Brown. It caused him to take mercy.

That sudden recognition can spring from many sources in battle -- hearing the moans of a wounded enemy; sharing a common language; or opening the wallet of an enemy and seeing pictures of his wife and children.

That respect for the enemy's humanity typically starts at the top, some scholars say. A leader sets the tone, and the troops get the message. A military leader who embodied this approach was one of Germany's greatest World War II commanders, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, also known as the "Desert Fox."

One time, a group of British commandos tried to sneak behind enemy lines and assassinate Rommel in the North African desert. They failed. But Rommel insisted the commandos be buried in the same graveyard as the German soldiers who died defending him, says Steven Pressfield, author of "Killing Rommel."

There were battle zones during World War II where that type of magnanimity was almost impossible. On the Eastern Front, German and Russian soldiers literally hated one another. And in the South Pacific, U.S. Marines and Japanese soldiers took no prisoners.

At times, the terrain can force soldiers to follow the code. The North African desert during World War II was one such place, Pressfield says.

Fortunes turned quickly because so many battles were fought by fast-moving tanks and mobile units. A German unit that captured British soldiers could end up surrendering to them minutes later because the battle lines were so fluid. Also, the desert sun was so harsh that both sides knew if they left enemy prisoners stranded or mistreated, they would quickly die, Pressfield says.

It was not unusual for German and British doctors to work together while taking care of wounded soldiers from both sides, Pressfield says.

Some British and German soldiers never forgot how their enemy treated them and staged reunions after the war.

"The Germans and the British used to get together for soccer matches," Pressfield says. "It was the Desert Foxes versus the Desert Rats."

These soldiers weren't just engaging in nostalgia. They shared a sense of hardship. They had survived an ordeal that most people could not understand.

"In many ways, a soldier feels more of a bond with the enemy they're fighting than with the countrymen back home," Pressfield says. "The enemy they're fighting is equally risking death."

That bond could even lead to acts of loyalty after the war, says Daniel Rolph, author of "My Brother's Keepers."

Once, when a Union officer mortally wounded a Confederate captain during the Civil War, the Union man sang hymns and prayed with his enemy as the man took his last breaths. Before the captain died, he asked the Union officer to return his sword and revolver to his family -- a request the soldier honored after the war ended, Rolph says.

"I even have an article from The New York Times in 1886 where Union soldiers who were on the pension rolls of the federal government were actually trying to transfer their money toward Confederate soldiers," Rolph says.

These bonds can even form between enemies who do not share a language or a culture.

Harold Moore Jr. was a U.S. Army colonel who led a desperate fight depicted in the 2002 Mel Gibson film, "We Were Soldiers Once ... And Young. " In 1965, Moore lost 79 of his men fighting against a larger North Vietnamese force. It was one of the first major battles in the Vietnam War.

In 1993, Moore led some of his soldiers back to Vietnam to meet their former adversaries on the same battlefield. When they arrived, Moore met the Vietnamese officer who led troops against him, Lt. Gen. Nguyen Huu An.

An held out his arms and greeted Moore by kissing him on both cheeks. Moore gave him his wristwatch as a token of friendship.

Moore described in an essay what happened next:

"I invited all to form a circle with arms extended around each other's shoulders and we bowed our heads. With prayer and tears, we openly shared our painful memories."

An died two years after meeting Moore. Moore traveled to Vietnam to pay his respects to his former enemy's family. While visiting their home, Moore spotted a familiar object displayed in the viewing case of An's family shrine: It was his wristwatch.

A reunion of enemies

As he watched the German fighter peel away that December day, 2nd Lt. Charles Brown wasn't thinking of the philosophical connection between enemies. He was thinking of survival.

He flew back to his base in England and landed with barely any fuel left. After his bomber came to a stop, he leaned back in his chair and put a hand over a pocket Bible he kept in his flight jacket. Then he sat in silence.

Brown flew more missions before the war ended. Life moved on. He got married, had two daughters, supervised foreign aid for the U.S. State Department during the Vietnam War and eventually retired to Florida.

Late in life, though, the encounter with the German pilot began to gnaw at him. He started having nightmares, but in his dream there would be no act of mercy. He would awaken just before his bomber crashed.

Brown took on a new mission. He had to find that German pilot. Who was he? Why did he save my life?

He scoured military archives in the U.S. and England. He attended a pilots' reunion and shared his story. He finally placed an ad in a German newsletter for former Luftwaffe pilots, retelling the story and asking if anyone knew the pilot.

On January 18, 1990, Brown received a letter. He opened it and read:

"Dear Charles, All these years I wondered what happened to the B-17, did she make it or not?"

It was Stigler. He had had left Germany after the war and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1953. He became a prosperous businessman. Now retired, Stigler told Brown that he would be in Florida come summer and "it sure would be nice to talk about our encounter."

Brown was so excited, though, that he couldn't wait to see Stigler. He called directory assistance for Vancouver and asked whether there was a number for a Franz Stigler. He dialed the number, and Stigler picked up.

"My God, it's you!" Brown shouted as tears ran down his cheeks.

Brown had to do more. He wrote a letter to Stigler in which he said: "To say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU on behalf of my surviving crewmembers and their families appears totally inadequate."

The two pilots would meet again, but this time in the lobby of a Florida hotel.

One of Brown's friends was there to record the summer reunion. Both men looked like retired businessmen: they were plump, sporting neat ties and formal shirts. They talked about their encounter in a light, jovial tone.

The mood then changed. Someone asked Stigler what he thought about Brown. Stigler sighed and his square jaw tightened. He began to fight back tears before he said in heavily accented English:

"I love you, Charlie."

Years later, author Makos says he understands why Stigler experienced such a surge of emotions.

Stigler had lost his brother, his friends and his country. He was virtually exiled by his countrymen after the war. There were 28,000 pilots who fought for the German air force. Only 1,200 survived, Makos says.

"The war cost him everything," Makos says. "Charlie Brown was the only good thing that came out of World War II for Franz. It was the one thing he could be proud of."

The meeting helped Brown as well, says his oldest daughter, Dawn Warner.

Brown and Stigler became pals. They would take fishing trips together. They would fly cross-country to each other homes and take road trips together to share their story at schools and veterans' reunions. Their wives, Jackie Brown and Hiya Stigler, became friends.

Brown's daughter says her father would worry about Stigler's health and constantly check in on him.

"It wasn't just for show," she says. "They really did feel for each other. They talked about once a week."

As his friendship with Stigler deepened, something else happened to her father, Warner says:

"The nightmares went away."

Brown had written a letter of thanks to Stigler, but one day, he showed the extent of his gratitude. He organized a reunion of his surviving crew members, along with their extended families. He invited Stigler as a guest of honor.

During the reunion, a video was played showing all the faces of the people that now lived -- children, grandchildren, relatives -- because of Stigler's act of chivalry. Stigler watched the film from his seat of honor.

"Everybody was crying, not just him," Warner says.

Stigler and Brown died within months of each other in 2008. Stigler was 92, and Brown was 87. They had started off as enemies, became friends, and then something more.

Makos discovered what that was by accident while spending a night at Brown's house. He was poking through Brown's library when he came across a book on German fighter jets. Stigler had given the book to Brown. Both were country boys who loved to read about planes.

Makos opened the book and saw an inscription Stigler had written to Brown:

In 1940, I lost my only brother as a night fighter. On the 20th of December, 4 days before Christmas, I had the chance to save a B-17 from her destruction, a plane so badly damaged it was a wonder that she was still flying.

The pilot, Charlie Brown, is for me, as precious as my brother was.

Thanks Charlie.
Your Brother,

Blake, John. Two enemies discover a 'higher call' in battle. http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/09/living/higher-call-military-chivalry/index.html, March 9, 2013.


By Marge duMond

A CALL (Cont'd) TO ACTION (Cont'd)

Women Won the Elections!

“President Obama won, the people spoke,” is how Rep. Barbara Lee of California put it. It seems so long ago, what with December’s “fiscal cliff” drama and then the dumb sequester, but it’s worth reviewing. The Democrats increased their House minority by eight seats, and their Senate majority by two seats.(1) The Senate now includes 20 women—more than ever in history. Massachusetts sent its first woman to the Senate—and she’s Elizabeth Warren, the consumer-rights champion. New Hampshire’s governor, senators, and representatives are all women. The first openly gay senator (Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin) and the first Asian-American woman senator (Mazie Hirono, Hawaii) have been sworn in. Two Republican men who made ill-informed, misogynistic statements about rape lost their Senate bids, and another lost his seat in the House.(2)

“If this election showed anything,” Gloria Steinem said the next day, “it’s this: You can’t have democracy without feminism.” Steinem had spent a year campaigning for President Obama, right up through Election Day. “It had to be done,” she said; “just think of the opposite election results.”(3)

Stay Engaged

This kind of victory is what happens when people speak out, stand up for what they believe, and take part in government. The votes of minorities and women put Obama over the top.(4)

The urgent need now is for progressive voters to stay involved. From the start of the 2008 campaign, people saw Barack Obama as the savior. But he warned us on Inauguration Day in 2009: “I can’t fix it alone. I need you to stay engaged.” He has said the same thing after winning re-election, and it’s true now more than ever.

Now that President Obama has been reelected, we may be tempted to think we can relax.  But the right wing is regrouping for the next effort—whether it’s a special election to fill a congressional seat, or the crucial midterms in 2016. Therefore, watch your local contests. Town, city, and county councils are important; your local Board of Education is key.  Right-wing extremists are highly organized at these levels, and it’s easy for liberals to lose ground through complacency or hopelessness. For example, after Roe v. Wade, liberals thought “Abortion is legal now. We won.” But GOP-controlled legislatures, in many states, went chip-chip-chipping at women’s reproductive rights, with scores of new laws restricting access. In just the past two years, we’ve seen renewed attacks on women’s reproductive rights, and liberals found themselves saying, “Oh, no, is this an issue again?!”(5)

Poverty Amid Plenty

Another issue making an unwelcome return, and far too quietly, is child poverty. President Johnson declared his “War on Poverty” in 1964(6) and poverty declined, but it hangs on stubbornly.(7) The recent economic downturn brought a four-year spike in poverty,(8) and according to a recent Frontline report, 20 percent of all U.S. children were living below the poverty line in 2011.(9) The poverty rate among children is higher than for any other demographic.(10) Even more shocking, nearly half—48 percent—of the children of single mothers live in poverty.(9) Yet child poverty doesn’t show up much in the news. In this richest of all countries, how can this much misery go unremarked? Who, and what, will fix it?

Stuck in Neutral

It’s been said that the best policy solutions generally come, not from the left or the right, but from somewhere in the middle. In recent years, though, the Republican Party, by adopting extreme, regressive positions, has moved the “center” of the policy landscape rightward.(11) For instance, during the Obamacare discussions, “single payer,” the “leftist” kind of national health plan found in all other industrialized nations, was not even part of the discussion, and activists trying to raise the issue were ejected from Senate hearings (chaired by a Democrat) and arrested.(12) And they were only advocating for a system that a majority of Americans say they want.(13) Our country is so saturated with the capitalist viewpoint that we are astonished to hear of the Brazilian city that declared good food a right for all its citizens, even the poorest.(14)

The reelection of Barack Obama resembles Bill Clinton’s reelection (1996) in this: Democrats gained some House seats, but not enough to regain control of the chamber. Gerrymandering (redrawing the shapes of congressional districts for partisan advantage) has worked very well for the Republicans. Artful redistricting in many cases has split Democratic strongholds and roped the fragments into majority-Republican districts. One result is that again in 2012 (as in 1996), the Democratic Party was denied control of the House even though the citizens of the United States cast enough Democratic votes to elect a House majority.(15)

The point is: the GOP works toward its longtime goal of becoming our country’s “permanent majority” on all fronts, from gerrymandering (when it controls a state legislature) to union-busting to voter suppression. The party’s overarching ideology—or, in other words, the net result of its policies ever since 1935, when President Roosevelt signed Social Security into existence(16)—is to deliberately reserve wealth, power, and rights for the select few. The GOP and the “conservative movement” have been following a long-term plan, one calling itself “a broadly based combination of education and political action”Cite the reference for the quote. to defend corporations and the “free enterprise system” against a “massive assault” from their critics.

Spelled out in a 1971 confidential memo(17) to the pro–Big Business U.S. Chamber of Commerce, this plan, known as the Powell Manifesto, has spawned the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and other think tanks producing books, position papers and traveling experts, all touting right-wing ideas and policies. And of course, there’s Fox News. The message machine works so well that millions of non-rich people now vote against their own economic interests.(18) Consider the right-wing propaganda that gets poor people all steamed up about the unfairness of the “death tax”—even though inheritance taxes affect only the very richest of taxpayers.(19) Progressives have responded with entities like Americans for Democratic Action, MoveOn.org, Democracy Now!, and People for the American Way, but are still far out-funded and out-talked by the right.

Increasing the Light

Liberals and their causes would benefit from a similarly unified response to threats from the conservative propaganda machine. By looking past the particular and seeing the underlying unity of their “separate” causes, progressives could work together as one movement. Marriage equality and reproductive choice are both about rights and how to expand or protect them. The same goes for environmental causes, if you believe people have a right to clean air and clean water—and to a livable planet for their grandchildren. A child’s right to a childhood free from poverty should be a non-partisan issue, crossing the aisle to engage Republicans as well as Democrats. Healthy children, after all, grow up to pay taxes and to vote.

At least this past election solidified Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act, freed now from major GOP attempts to repeal it,(20) should get almost everyone under some kind of health-insurance coverage by 2014.(21) This is especially crucial for women of child-bearing age—and for children. But that’s not enough. What else can we do to address and relieve poverty, and the effects of poverty, in our country?

When people come together on the basis of their core values, their actions have a solid foundation, and plenty of positive energy. The most effective way to focus the positive energy is not to ask, What do we oppose, but to ask, What do we want to see? We succeed, not by fighting the dark (“What you resist persists”), but by increasing the light. What are some ways that we can act, as neighbors or as a nation, to help the children living in poverty? How can we put into action our core values to stand up for the women, children, and families who are just fighting to survive for another day?

Consulted Works:

(1) “Balance of Power: 113th Congress,” Danny Dougherty and Alex Tribou, Bloomberg.com, updated November 29, 2012. http://go.bloomberg.com/multimedia/the-balance-of-power-for-the-113th-congress/. Accessed December 7, 2012.
(2) “Women Make Historic Gains in the U.S. Senate,” Suzi Parker, Washington Post online, posted on November 7, 2012; accessed December 7, 2012. “Duckworth Defeats Walsh in Congressional Contest,” Monique Garcia and Duaa Eldeib, Chicago Tribune, November 7, 2012. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-11-07/news/chi-duckworth-walsh-election-results-illinois-8th-district-20121106_1_kaitlin-fahey-duckworth-campaign-manager-democrat-tammy-duckworth. Accessed December 7, 2012.
(3) Gloria Steinem, remarks at Ms. magazine 40th anniversary party, Landmark on the Park, New York, N.Y., November 7, 2012.
Where are these remarks recorded? Landmark on the Park is a venue.
(4) “Election Results 2012: Role of Women Voters,” Nicolle Wallace, Donna Brazile, and Cokie Roberts, ABC News, Good Morning America, November 7, 2012. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/election-results-2012-role-women-voters-presiden-barrack-17663286. Accessed December 7, 2012. “Election Results 2012: Who Won It for Obama?” Peter Grier, Christian Science Monitor, November 7, 2012, accessed December 8, 2012. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/Decoder-Wire/2012/1107/Election-results-2012-Who-won-it-for-Obama-video
(5) “Why Sexual Fundamentalists Dominate Politics and How We Can Stop Them,” Mandy Van Deven,  AlterNet, posted September 25, 2012. http://www.alternet.org/why-sexual-fundamentalists-dominate-politics-and-how-we-can-stop-them; accessed December 7, 2012.
(6) “Modern History Sourcebook: President Lyndon B. Johnson: The War on Poverty, March 1964,” http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1964johnson-warpoverty.html, accessed December 7, 2012.
(7) “Poverty in the 50 Years Since ‘The Other America,’ in Five Charts,” The Washington Post Wonkblog, Dylan Matthews, posted July 11, 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/07/11/poverty-in-the-50-years-since-the-other-america-in-five-charts/. Accessed December 7, 2012.
(8) “Child Poverty Holds Steady for the First Time in Years, Census Bureau Finds,” HuffPost Parents, posted September 9, 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/child-poverty-census_n_1878834.html.
(9) “By the Numbers: Childhood Poverty in the U.S.,” Jason M. Breslow, PBS.org, November 20, 2012. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/social-issues/poor-kids/by-the-numbers-childhood-poverty-in-the-u-s/. Accessed December 7, 2012.
(10) Poverty, “Highlights,” U.S. Bureau of the Census, http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/overview/index.html. Last Revised: September 12, 2012; accessed December 7, 2012.
(11) “Only One Party’s to Blame? Don’t Tell the Sunday Shows,” Greg Sargent, The Washington Post online, posted May 14, 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/only-one-partys-to-blame-dont-tell-the-sunday-shows/2012/05/14/gIQAXOcPPU_blog.html. Accessed December 7, 2012.
(12) “Make It the Baucus 13,” russell, Single Payer Action, May 12, 2009. http://www.singlepayeraction.org/blog/?p=690. Accessed December 7, 2012.
(13) “If the Health Care Mandate Is Struck Down, Single-Payer Becomes the Best Choice,” Sarah van Gelder, Yes! magazine, April 11, 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-van-gelder/single-payer-healthcare_b_1416387.html. Accessed December 7, 2012.
(14) “The City That Ended Hunger,” Frances Moore Lappé, Yes! magazine, February 13, 2009. http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/food-for-everyone/the-city-that-ended-hunger. Accessed December 7, 2012.
(15) “Most Americans Elected a Democratic House, but We Got a Tea Party Congress,” Mark Karlin, BuzzFlash at TruthOut, November 26, 2012. http://truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/item/17656-most-american-voters-elected-a-democratic-house-but-we-got-a-tea-party-congress. Accessed December 8, 2012. “Fiscal Cliff Is Latest Symptom of Unfair Redistricting,” Hedrick Smith, Daily Beast, December 8, 2012. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/12/08/fiscal-cliff-is-latest-symptom-of-unfair-redistricting.html. Accessed December 8, 2012.
(16) “Social Security: FAQs,” The Official Website of the U.S. Social Security Administration, last reviewed November 12, 2012. http://www.ssa.gov/history/hfaq.html.
(17)“The Powell Memo (Also Known as the Powell Manifesto),” Reclaim Democracy!, http://reclaimdemocracy.org/powell_memo_lewis/.
(18) “Why Do People Vote Against Their Own Interests?” BBC News, Turkeys Voting for Christmas, updated January 30, 2010, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8474611.stm. Accessed December 7, 2012.
(19) “Potential ‘Death Tax’ Increase Makes 2013 a Very Bad Year to Die,” Christopher Bedford, Daily Caller, July 20, 2012. http://dailycaller.com/2012/07/20/potential-death-tax-increase-makes-2013-a-very-bad-year-to-die/ Accessed December 7, 2012.
(20) “Repeal by a Thousand Cuts,” Lachlan Markay, The Washington Free Beacon,
March 5, 2013. Accessed March 8, 2012. (“Repeal is a distant goal for the time being; but defunding, dismantling, cannibalizing—these are all achievable, with smart tactics,” said Dean Clancy, vice president for health care policy at FreedomWorks.)
 (21) “What’s Changing and When: Promoting Individual Responsibility,” HealthCare.gov. http://www.healthcare.gov/law/timeline/. Accessed December 7, 2012.


God's Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World
by Cullen Murphy

“Established by the Catholic Church in 1231, the Inquisition continued in one form or another for almost seven hundred years. Though associated with the persecution of heretics and Jews — and with burning at the stake — its targets were more numerous and its techniques more ambitious. The Inquisition pioneered surveillance, censorship, and “scientific” interrogation. As time went on, its methods and mindset spread far beyond the Church to become tools of secular persecution. Traveling from freshly opened Vatican archives to the detention camps of Guantánamo to the filing cabinets of the Third Reich, the acclaimed writer Cullen Murphy traces the Inquisition and its legacy, showing that not only did its offices survive into the twentieth century, but in the modern world its spirit is more influential than ever.”
~From Amazon.com



Two substantial properties, totaling 60 acres, have been purchased in the mountains of central Vermont for the purpose of establishing the first full-time Laconneau community in the United States. The building of this community in Vermont represents the completion of the first stage in a five-year plan which, after the expansion of other such communities around the USA, will culminate in the establishment of a Laconneau community in the Languedoc region of southwestern France.

News from the Carolinas:
In January, the Greenville circle hosted The Gospel of the Beloved Companion: An Introduction seminar as well as a Level I Introductory course.  Both were well attended by enthusiastic participants.

In early February, the Greenville community embarked on a day hike near Falkland among the trails of the local mountain bike club.  Despite a little rain, it was a great outing and a good opportunity to loosen our stiff winter muscles.

In late February, several members of the Greenville circle traveled north to participate in the Sentier de Vermont.  There was much excitement surrounding the trip and it was the ideal opportunity to explore the area for the development of a Laconneau community.

The Laconneau Chapelle is open every Friday evening, from 5:30PM to 7:30PM for those who have completed a Level I class.  There is no need to contact us before arriving.  Women wishing to meditate at others times may call and request that it be opened for them.

The Greenville circle continues its community outreach by collecting food at all Laconneau events to help stock the food pantry at First Born Community Development Center in Grimesland, NC.

The Greenville Circle hosts regularly scheduled film screenings, classes, seminars, day hikes, and similar activities to which all are welcome.  Please refer to the North Carolina calendar for specific event and date information.

For more information about Laconneau events in the Carolinas, please contact Kathy by email at the.carolinas@laconneau.org or by phone at 703.819.7986.

Georgia News:
This quarter, the Georgia circle has continued to have various events; including book discussions, film reviews, seminars and classes.

In January we held a film screening of The Peaceful Warrior.  This was the first time that this film had been viewed by some of the attendees.  Attendees felt that the film was relevant in their daily lives. For those who had seen the film it was agreed that there was always new knowledge that they obtained.

In February the circle hosted the seminar, The Teachings of the Beloved Companion: Simple Principles from an Enlightened Life.  The following day the circle hosted a Level I Introductory Course.  Both classes were well received, with lively discussions that continued through lunch and after the classes ended.

Several members of the Georgia circle participated in the Sentier de Vermont.  Those who participated said that they had a wonderful time listening to the teachings, enjoying great food, spending time with other Laconneau members.

On Saturday, June 1 2013, the Georgia circle will host the seminar entitled Enlightenment: The Magdalene’s True Legacy?.  On Sunday, June 2, 2013 the circle will host the Level III Advanced Course.  For more information and to register for one or both of these remarkable courses, please contact Elaine by email at GA@laconneau.org.

The Georgia circle will begin working with My Sister’s House, a program that works with homeless women to help them to become self-sufficient.  The circle is in the planning stages of meeting with staff to find the organization’s greatest needs and how we can be most helpful. 

The Georgia circle continues to welcome all women and men who desire to meditate and work together to heal themselves, their communities and the world.  We welcome all who want to participate in our regularly scheduled Community Circles.

For more information about Laconneau events in Georgia, please contact Elaine by email at GA@laconneau.org or by phone at 252.258.0495.

Pennsylvania News:
On Saturday, April 13 the Philadelphia circle hosted the seminar entitled The Gospel of the Beloved Companion: An Introduction.  We invite both women and men to attend this remarkable seminar.  Then, on Sunday, April 14 the Philadelphia circle hosted a Level I Introductory course to which all women are welcome.  If you are interested in attending one or both of these courses, please contact Anna by email at PA@laconneau.org or by phone at 301.275.4054.

Then, on Sunday, June 16 the Philadelphia circle will host the Level II Intermediate course.  Women and men who have completed the Level I Introductory course, “Enlightenment” seminar or “Teachings” seminar are invited to attend.

To help address the problem of hunger in Philadelphia, the circle collects non-perishable food at all events to donate to the Hunger Coalition.  Please remember to bring non-perishable food items to any Philadelphia Laconneau events that you attend.  In addition, we are organizing to volunteer for the Philabundance program, “Fresh for All”.  The “Fresh for All” program is a mobile food market that sells fresh produce, which is one of the most expensive types of food for low-income families.  If you are interested in participating in this volunteer effort, please contact Dana at dlh0906@gmail.com.

The Philadelphia circle hosts regularly scheduled meditations, film screenings, discussion evenings, Women’s Circles and Community Circles. Please refer to the Philadelphia calendar for more detailed information about our upcoming events.

For more information or to attend any Laconneau events or courses in Philadelphia, please contact Anna by email at PA@laconneau.org or by phone at 301.275.4054.

Washington, DC News:
The Washington, DC circle is pleased to announce that on Saturday, June 22, 2013 the circle will host the seminar entitled The Gospel of the Beloved Companion: An Introduction.  Then, on Sunday, June 23, the circle will host a Level I Introductory course.  Both classes will begin at 10:00AM.  For more detailed information about these classes, or if you would like to attend, please contact Rebecca by email at WashingtonDC@laconneau.org.

The Washington, DC circle invites new and returning participants to attend its classes and events.  For more information or to attend any Laconneau events or courses in Washington, DC, please contact Rebecca by email at WashingtonDC@laconneau.org or by phone at 703.987.0513.


APRIL 2013

Saturday, April 13, 2013
The Gospel of the Beloved Companion: An Introduction 10:00AM
Philadelphia, PA 

Sunday, April 14, 2013
Level I Introductory Course 10:00AM
Philadelphia, PA

Friday, April 26 – Sunday, April 28, 2013
Spring Festival
Greenville, NC

Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Level I Introductory Course 7:30PM
Greenville, NC

Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Level I Introductory Course 7:30PM (Continued)
Greenville, NC

MAY 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013
Community Evening 7:30PM
Atlanta, GA

JUNE 2013

Saturday, June 1, 2013
Enlightenment: The Magdalene’s True Legacy? 10:00AM
Atlanta, GA

Sunday, June 2, 2013
Level III Advanced Course 10:00AM
Atlanta, GA

Saturday, June 15, 2013
Level II Intermediate Course 10:00AM
Philadelphia, PA

Saturday, June 22, 2013
The Gospel of the Beloved Companion: An Introduction 10:00AM
Washington, DC

Sunday, June 23, 2013
Level I Introductory Course 10:00AM
Washington, DC

To view the upcoming Laconneau classes and seminars by date, please visit: http://www.laconneau.org/CalendarClassTitle.html

To view the upcoming Laconneau classes and seminars by location, please visit: http://www.laconneau.org/CalendarClassLocation.html


To view the calendar of Laconneau events in your area, please refer to your regional calendar online.

For events in Georgia, visit:

Georgia Region Coordinator: Elaine - GA@laconneau.org

For events in North Carolina, visit:

Carolinas Region Coordinator: Kathy -- the.carolinas@laconneau.org

For events in Pennsylvania, visit:

Philadelphia Region Coordinator: Anna - PA@laconneau.org

For events in South Carolina, visit:

Carolinas Region Coordinator: Kathy -- the.carolinas@laconneau.org

For events in Washington, DC, visit:

Washington, DC Region Coordinator - Rebecca - WashingtonDC@laconneau.org


Please contact your coordinator with questions or updated regional information.

In France: Jehanne - jehannedeq@laconneau.org

Laconneau Adminstrator: Alex - alexg@laconneau.org

In the Carolinas: Kathy - the.carolinas@laconneau.org

In Georgia: Elaine - GA@laconneau.org

In Pennsylvania: Anna - PA@laconneau.org

In Washington, DC: Rebecca -WashingtonDC@laconneau.org

Contact Information Online:

Please visit our website, http://www.laconneau.org, for the complete calendar, further articles, Laconneau’s history and additional information.