Kristin Penn, MA, LMHC

Counseling and Psychotherapy
Seattle and South Whidbey Island


The path of self discovery and the acceptance and healing of one’s suffering is a mysterious journey into the depths of the heart. Throughout human existence many have found themselves with no choice but to make the rocky descent. Their words are like a light in a distant window, offering a comforting sign, or encouragement when one can hardly see the map and all around it seems like such uncertain terrain. Their words let you know that you are not lost, that you, too, can make it home to the truth of your heart.


It may be when we no
longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.

Wendell Berry


When the old ghosts come back
To feed on everywhere you felt sure,
Do not strengthen their hunger
By choosing to fear;
Rather, decide to call on your heart
That it may grow clear and free
To welcome home your emptiness
That it may cleanse you
Like the clearest air
You could ever breathe.

John O’Donohue
To Bless the Space Between Us, 2008


... No matter how fast
you run, your shadow keeps up. Sometimes it's
in front! Only full overhead sun diminishes
your shadow. But that shadow has been serving
you. What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is
your candle. Your boundaries are your quest.
I could explain this, but it will break the
glass cover on your heart, and there's no
fixing that. You must have shadow and light
source both. Listen, and lay your head under
the tree of awe...

The Soul of Rumi by Coleman Barks


We further dissolve the boundaries, letting ourselves enter into the pain and the pain enter into us, we can see the possibility of going beyond it to where the heart is freer. We’ve never been so vulnerable, so defenseless and yet somehow, so safe. The surrender we were so frightened of turns out to be not defeat, but a kind of victory.

Ram Dass
How Can I Help, 1985


I make medicine out of your pain.
From your chimney smoke I shape new constellations.

I tell everything, but I do not say it,
because, my friend, it is better
your secret be spoken by you.



The beauty of the world has two edges, one of laughter, one of anguish, cutting the heart asunder.

Virginia Woolf


I hold my face in my two hands.
My hands, hollowed to catch what might
fall from within me
deeper than crying.

Thich Nhat Hanh


One way to love myself is to stand still
when sadness comes sweeping in
like a storm. This means not judging
the storm, and not condemning myself
for getting drenched; three quarters of
the world is covered in water.

Sy Stafransky


The House

It grows larger
wall after wall
on some miraculous arrangement
of panels,
blond and weightless
as balsa, making space
for windows,alcoves,
more rooms, stairways
and passages,all
in light,with here
and there the green
flower of a tree,
breaking through-
what a change
from the cramped
room at the centre
where I began,where I crouched
and was safe,
but could hardly
breathe! Day after day
I labour at it;
night after night
I keep going-
I'm clearing new ground
I'm lugging boards
I'm measuring,
I'm hanging sheets of glass
I'm nailing down the hardwoods
The thresholds-
I'm hinging the doors-
Once they are up they will lift
their easy latches, they will open
like wings.

Mary Oliver
Dream Work, 1986


The Uses of Sorrow

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too was a gift.

Mary Oliver
Thirst, 2006