“See the world through the eyes of your inner child. The eyes that sparkle in awe and amazement as they see love, magic and mystery in the most ordinary things.” ― Henna Sohail
When I was young and impressionable and just learning about spiritual matters in my church youth group, someone offered me this acronym: Joy = Jesus, Others, Yourself. In that order. This translates (I was told) to: Jesus before others and others before yourself. I tried to embrace this thrilling hidden code of spiritual wisdom but, alas, it did not add up to joy. Instead, it weighed down my youthful spirit, separated things that should not be separated, and put me in my place: last.
Now that I am older and wiser, I still don’t like the acronym; however, I recently ran across another gem of “joy” wordplay that I do like. . . Read More
“How shall we live? Welcoming to all.” — Mechtild of Magdeburg
Preaching to Birds and Squirrels
A new sculpture called “Saint Francis and the Birds” was recently celebrated among neighbors at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California, a senior community committed to justice and peace. Commissioned by Mary Ann and Frederic Brussat, co-founders of Spirituality & Practice, this sculpture was born of art templates from the late artist Frederick Franck.
This fresh interpretation of the saint sweeps the eye upward in a feeling of celebratory movement, gratitude, and hospitality. Here Saint Francis welcomes a panoply of birds circling and hovering about his uplifted arms. You can almost hear the saint preaching to these exuberant birds, calling out to them, “My little sisters the birds . . .” Click here to read more
On a soft, snowy morning I read a poem by Mary Oliver. And in the afternoon, it came to me, a notice of her death. Too soon! I thought. Too soon to lose a talent of this magnitude. My heart rocked in grief for several minutes. But then I re-read the poem from the morning called “Bazougey” (Dog Songs, 2013), about the death of a beloved dog. It begins,
Where goes he now, that dark little dog who used to come down the road barking and shining? He’s gone now, from the world of particulars, the singular, the visible.
So, that deepest sting: sorrow. Still, is he gone from us entirely, or is he a part of that other world, everywhere?
I now think of Mary Oliver as in this poem, no longer part of the singular, the visible, the world of particulars, but rather “a part of that other world, everywhere.” . . . . read more
The Adventurer of the Universe starts with the dream and reaps tragic Beauty.— Alfred North Whitehead
I have a friend named David who can see things others can’t. He has visions. I don’t mean David has “second sight” or any psychic ability; rather, it’s more of an artist’s vision of seeing things that are not there, but that might be. With a gestalt sensibility, he can see something whole that is now in parts, broken, and crying out to be either put out of its misery or loved back into life. David is a woodworker, restorer, and artist. He mainly works with discarded and unwanted pieces of furniture, like the lonely chair left out on the curbside by someone in a rush to move, or the abandoned table at the side of the dumpster, or a battered antique trunk hoping to be discovered on the last day of an estate sale when everything is 75% off. David grabs what others pass up, or gathers odd pieces and makes something completely novel like the “Frankenstein” table as he jokingly called it: a stunning dining set created from disparate parts he found “here and there.”
What a gift! To see possibility among the discarded, to save the landfills by remaking something that lasts, and to add beauty to the world.
“And that’s why it is so important today that we reaffirm our character as a nation — a people drawn from every corner of the world, every color, every religion, every background — bound by a creed as old as our founding, e pluribus unum. Out of many, we are one. For we know that our diversity — our patchwork heritage — is not a weakness; it is still, and always will be, one of our greatest strengths.” — President Barack Obama, September 11, 2016
Shortly after I moved back to the United States after living abroad for five years, I began seeing bumper stickers with the motto, “In God We Trust.” It seemed to hold a special significance for some of my neighbors. But why? After a little research and reorientation into my home culture, I realized that for many, this motto serves as a counterpoint — and even a rebuff — to our founding fathers’ 1782 motto, e pluribus unum, “out of many, one.”
If you study any coin from your pocket closely, you can see “In God We Trust” on one side and e pluribus unum on the other. The social context of each motto is telling. . . . (to continue reading, click here to read my post “U is for Unity“).
Often, the most intense forms of beauty rise from the ashes of tragedy. Such is the story of how a bombed-out church from the London Blitz ended up in my town in Missouri—restored, renewed, rehallowed. Her name is St. Mary, Aldermanbury, and she’s got quite a story to tell. . . Read More
“Silence is like a flame, you see?”
As a lover of words, I wonder why I am so drawn to the wordless worlds of music and dance and art. And then, there is mime, that peculiar silent art form, perhaps brought to its highest expression in the work of Marcel Marceau. After viewing some of his mime masterpieces, such as The Cage and Youth, Maturity, and Old Age, I asked myself: Why does this master of silent storytelling move me so much?