If we are stretching to live wiser and not just smarter, we will aspire to learn what love means, how it arises and deepens, how it withers and revives, what it looks like as a private good but also a common good. I long to make this word echo differently in hearts and ears—not less complicated, but differently so. Love as muscular, resilient. Love as social—not just about how we are intimately, but how we are together, in public. I want to aspire to a carnal practical love—eros become civic, not sexual and yet passionate, full-bodied. Because it is the best of which we are capable, loving is also supremely exacting, not always but again and again. Love is something we only master in moments. It crosses the chasms between us, and likewise brings them into relief. It is as captive to the human condition as anything we attempt. Continue reading “Love Is The Superstar Virtue Of Virtues …”
There are two ways to be holy.
There are people who labor all day in the worst of conditions, for instance, for the neediest people in the world. Other people love them for it. Call them saints; call them courageous; call them the “salt of the earth.” Indeed they are. Then there are other people who see the conditions in which the neediest people in the world are left to live and they work to see that those conditions are changed. And people denounce them for it. Call them unrealistic. Call them enablers. Call them unfaithful to their country—and even to their church. Continue reading “Uncommon Generosity, Uncommon Courage …”
We want life to be as dazzling and painless as possible. Life, on the other hand, has a way of humbling us, and heartbreak is built into its agreement with the world. We’re young, until we’re not. We’re healthy, until we’re not. We’re with those we love, until we’re not. Life’s beauty is inseparable from its fragility. One of the greatest human triumphs is to choose to make room in our hearts for both the joy and the pain, and to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This means seeing feelings not as being “good” or “bad” but as just “being.” Yes, there is this relentless assumption in our culture that we need to do something when we have inner turmoil. We must struggle with it, fix it, control it, exert brute-force willpower over it, remain positive. What we really need to do, though, is also what is most simple and obvious: nothing. That is, to just welcome these inner experiences, breathe into them, and learn their contours without racing for the exits. Continue reading “Courage Is Fear Walking …”
Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go …
― John O’Donohue from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
Learning How To Float
When first learning how to swim, I didn’t trust the deep. No matter how many assuring voices I heard from shore, I strained and flapped to keep my chin above the surface. It exhausted me, and only when exhausted did I relax enough to immerse myself to the point that I could feel the cradle of the deep keep me afloat.
I’ve come to understand that this is the struggle we all replay between doubt and faith. When thrust into any situation over our head, our reflex is to fight with all our might the terrible feeling that we are sinking. Yet the more we resist, the more we feel our own weight and wear ourselves out. Continue reading “Choose The Deep Again & Again In Order To Live Fully …”
in time of daffodils (who know
the goal of living is to grow)
— e.e. cummings from Selected Poems
Sleeping In The Forest
I thought the earth remembered me, she
took me back so tenderly, arranging
her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds. I slept
as never before, a stone
on the riverbed, nothing
between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated
light as moths among the branches
of the perfect trees. All night
I heard the small kingdoms breathing
around me, the insects, and the birds
who do their work in the darkness. All night
I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling
with a luminous doom. By morning
I had vanished at least a dozen times
into something better. Continue reading “Mud and Miracle (A Springtime Meditation) …”
Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.
— Augustine of Hippo from Spirituality and Liberation: Overcoming the Great Fallacy
May you know the presence
of those who have passed
through the desert before you.
May they point the way
and sustain you
with their stories.
In the wilderness,
may there be wellsprings.
May there be wings.
— Jan L. Richardson from In the Sanctuary of Women
Chutzpah and Humility
In Healing the Heart of Democracy I talk about five habits of the heart. But when I give talks about it, I say, “If five is too many for you to hold onto, you really only need two. You need chutzpah and humility.”
All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well …
— Saint Julian of Norwich from Revelations of Divine Love
Maybe our world will grow kinder eventually.
Maybe the desire to make something beautiful
is the piece of God that is inside each of us.
Now all four horses have come closer,
are bending their faces toward me
as if they have secrets to tell.
I don’t expect them to speak, and they don’t.
If being so beautiful isn’t enough, what
could they possibly say? Continue reading “Maybe The Desire To Make Something Beautiful Is The Piece Of God That Is Inside Each Of Us …”