When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.
― Thich Nhat Hanh from At Home in the World: Stories and Essential Teachings from a Monk’s Life
The way I define spirituality is a deeply held belief that we are inextricably connected to one another by something bigger than us, and something that is grounded in love. Some people call that God …
— Brené Brown
Continue reading “Empathy …”
Hoping against hope, he believed.
Hope where we had ceased to hope.
Hope amid what threatens hope.
Hope with those who feed our hope.
Hope beyond what we had hoped.
Hope that draws us past our limits.
Hope that defies expectations.
Hope that questions what we have known.
Hope that makes a way where there is none.
Hope that takes us past our fear.
Hope that calls us into life.
Hope that holds us beyond death.
Hope that blesses those to come. Continue reading “Hope Nonetheless …”
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 …”
For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfil themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree.
— Herman Hesse from Bäume. Betrachtungen und Gedichte
We’re all — trees, humans, insects, birds, bacteria — pluralities. Life is embodied network. These living networks are not places of omnibenevolent Oneness. Instead, they are where ecological and evolutionary tensions between cooperation and conflict are negotiated and resolved. These struggles often result not in the evolution of stronger, more disconnected selves but in the dissolution of the self into relationship. Continue reading “Our Ethic Must Therefore Be One Of Belonging (Earth Day) …”
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 …”
You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.
— Mahatma Gandhi
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
— Romans 12: 9-18, 21
It speaks of the very essence of being human. When we want to give high praise to someone we say, Yu, u nobuntu; hey, so-and-so has Ubuntu. Then you are generous, you are hospitable, and you are friendly and caring and compassionate. Continue reading “We Can Only Be Human Together (A Prayer for World Peace) …”
When we are stuck in our convictions and personas, we enter into the disease of having good ideas and being right… We think we have a lock on truth, with our burnished surfaces and articulation, but the bigger we pump ourselves up, the easier we are to prick with a pin. And the bigger we get, the harder it is to see the earth under our feet.
We all know the horror of having been Right with a capital R, feeling the surge of a cause, whether in politics or custody disputes. This rightness is so hot and steamy and exciting, until the inevitable rug gets pulled out from under us. Then we get to see that we almost never really know what is true, except what everybody else knows: that sometimes we’re all really lonely, and hollow, and stripped down to our most naked human selves.
It is the worst thing on earth, this truth about how little truth we know. I hate and resent it. And yet it is where new life rises from. Continue reading “This Very Moment Is the Perfect Teacher …”