Resident Profile: Clare Morris

By Barbara Hodgkinson–

When you first meet Clare, you sense a quiet, calm, spiritual strength, although her life has often been a whirlwind of activity.

Born legally blind with a rare retinal syndrome, Clare has always seen life as though she were watching a black-and-white, over-exposed, out-of-focus film. Her parents were told she would never read but she learned to do so with her classmates, and reads now with the help of contacts, glasses and magnifiers. Her constant companion these days is a Labrador retriever guide dog named, Joy.

Although Clare’s family has been Quaker for generations, when she was a sophomore at Mills College, she was introduced by a friend to the Roman Catholic Church. She was immediately drawn to its mystical life. After studying church teachings, she was baptized and four years later entered a community of Ursuline nuns, where she remained for twenty-five years.

While an Ursuline, Clare taught in the Order’s high schools for eight years before focusing on Peace Education. She worked full-time for several years in this field, and was the first Coordinator for the Ecumenical Peace Institute of Northern California.

Following these years, Clare, on sabbatical, traveled through the Far East, Middle East, Europe, and the Eastern United States, in addition to living in Rome for six months for an intense program of study and prayer. While out of the U.S., she experienced an understanding that social activists and spiritual contemplatives needed each other. People tended to live one of these life choices. Clare thought the two belonged together. She was determined to do something about it. Coincidentally, when she returned home, the Ursulines’ Santa Rosa center for training new members was nearly empty. She was asked to organize a retreat and conference program there. With help from many Sonoma County residents, she developed the Angela Center; its programs integrated social responsibility, spirituality, depth psychology and the arts.

After having lived and worked at the Center for nine years, Clare moved to San Francisco, where she intensified her leadership training with the Guild for Psychological Studies, whose seminars attempted to inspire an expanding consciousness through the study of Jesus, Jung, mythology and the arts. At the California Institute of Integral Studies she earned a Master’s and Doctorate in Counseling Psychology and became a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She then developed a private practice in the Jungian tradition.

In 2008 Clare moved to Friends House. Here, surrounded by a wise and caring community, she continues to see clients, though now on a pro bono and occasional basis, and focuses on her love for writing. She has published two books of poetry—In Transit: Love Poems to the City and Child of the Longest Night. Her memoir, Falling Into Light: A Mother and Daughter Give Birth to Each Other, will be available in the spring.