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By Parker J. Palmer September 30, 2015

Politics can divide more often than unite. But, deep involvement in the civic sphere doesn't mean we have to sacrifice empathy and civility.

A Charm Against the Language of Politics

Say over and over the names of things,
the clean nouns: weeping birch, bloodstone, tanager,
Banshee damask rose. Read field guides, atlases,
gravestones. At the store, bless each apple
by kind: McIntosh, Winesap, Delicious, Jonathan.
Enunciate the vegetables and herbs: okra, calendula.

Go deeper into the terms of some small landscape:
spiders, for example. Then, after a speech on
compromising the environment for technology,
recite the tough, silky structure of webs:
tropical stick, ladder web, mesh web, filmy dome, funnel,
trap door. When you have compared the candidates’ slippery
platforms, chant the spiders: comb footed, round headed,
garden cross, feather legged, ogre faced, black widow.
Remember that most short verbs are ethical: hatch, grow,
spin, trap, eat. Dig deep, pronounce clearly, pull the words
in over your head. Hole up
for the duration.

On the Blog

By Trent Gilliss August 11, 2015

In this Letter from Loring Park, our executive editor lists three compelling reads under five minutes and some of our most popular columns. Enjoy the journey.

By Eric Nelson August 11, 2015

The task of the healthy is to be willing to see the same wholeness in those who aren't, to help them understand that they are needed and wanted and complete. A documentary film helps one man ponder how Jesus might frame our understanding of our potential role in modern-day healing.

By Sharon Salzberg August 10, 2015

Change is undeniable. Yet, we expend an immense amount of time and energy trying to alter this basic principle with rigid categorizations. This essay reminds us to embrace the dynamism before us.

By Muhammad Asadi August 09, 2015

Dogs and humans have lived alongside each other for thousands of years. Could it be that each species has impacted the evolution of the other? And could dogs be an essential element in human self-actualization?

By Paul Singleton, III August 08, 2015

With the near-constant news of extra-judicial police killings and mass shootings, it would be easy to live in a constant state of fear. Faced with his own fragile mortality, a Buddhist contemplates our collective fear and grief. For him, meditation is not about relaxation but about awakening to life — in its wonder and in its sorrow.

By Courtney E. Martin August 07, 2015

Rituals provide structure for the full spectrum of our emotional lives - but for those who don't identify with an organized religion, how are rituals developed? Courtney Martin ponders the "muddy, sacred" experience of creating rituals.

By Omid Safi August 06, 2015

The prophetic voice is one that challenges, adapts, and evolves alongside history. Omid Safi reminds us of the sermon Dr. King never gave and invites us to live up to his hopeful invitation to create an America that is yet to be.

By Parker J. Palmer August 05, 2015

External "oughts" and "shoulds" can create impossibly high aspirations — and equally high levels of guilt about falling short. A personal exploration sharing the delicate experience of "befriending" depression and ways of reframing our expectations of self.

By Trent Gilliss August 04, 2015

Compelling listening on trauma and resilience as it crosses generations, and the world around us.

By Sande Ramage August 04, 2015

When faced with the inner void, the fear of emptiness can tempt us to refill and restock as quickly as we can. Could an emptying clear the space to experience something else? Set against the background of opera, one woman's gorgeous account of truth breathed into the void.

By Sharon Salzberg August 03, 2015

So often we dwell on our mistakes. Sharon Salzberg helps us step away from this routine and walk a different terrain — with the practice of lovingkindness that develops a flexibility of looking at our own lives.

By Elizabeth Ayres August 02, 2015

Spirit intersects matter everywhere. A poet living in Chesapeake Bay meditates on the sacredness of location and the sense of place reinstated after returning to her childhood landscape.

By Maia Duerr August 01, 2015

To "prioritize intention rather than form" is a the heart of a contemplative practice, whatever that may be. A lay Buddhist monk tells the story of creating a "tree" that's liberated us from narrow ideas of what contemplative practice is and find one (or more) that truly works for us.

By Courtney E. Martin July 31, 2015

We acquire and we accumulate. But why? What is the story we're trying to tell through the possessions we own. Our columnist Courtney Martin considers the multiple philosophies of ownership — and points toward that which is truly valuable.

By Omid Safi July 30, 2015

Extraordinary images of Pluto reveal the vastness and mystery that lies beyond. Omid Safi revels in it all, weaving together the poetry of Rumi and Rabi'a with the "celestial realities mirrored in the human heart."

By Parker J. Palmer July 29, 2015

How might we summon “the better angels of our nature" as political shenanigans ensue? The ever-wise Parker Palmer offers a few suggestions (and a poem, of course!) to reclaim our commons — and our humanity — during this election season.

By Trent Gilliss July 28, 2015

Words that shimmer, poetry to ponder, relationships to reexamine, prose that rivets, and photos that hide as much as they reveal — our executive editor's weekly missive.

By Meridian Johnson July 28, 2015

How do we come to truly "know" ourselves? Through a host of childhood memories, and using a George Oppen poem as her guide, a health practitioner suggests a starting place: "Become intimate with discomfort. Pull it closer. Mend nothing first."

By Sharon Salzberg July 27, 2015

In our utilitarian age, meditation is often discussed as a means to increase focus, productivity, and cognition but what about meditation as an engine for kindness? Sharon Salzberg explores the power of compassion and kindness to meet with abundance the suffering of the stranger.

By David Miah July 26, 2015

In a culture of perfectionism, it's rare to be told it's okay to fall short. But what if, as a community, we were to embrace our imperfections? From the vulnerable vantage of a karaoke stage, one man celebrates the connective, communal laughter of missing the mark.

By Mohammed Fairouz July 25, 2015

For the world-weary, cynicism may feel safe. But, in our efforts toward self-protection, what might we be missing? A Millennial reflects on the doubt and distrust he sees in his generation, and suggests a courageous counterpoint: sincere and hopeful optimism.

By Courtney E. Martin July 24, 2015

In a culture of accumulation and hoarding, many are experiencing a growing exasperation with owning things that, as it turns out, aren't necessary. Could the "sharing economy" help restore spiritual calm?

By Omid Safi July 23, 2015

Sometimes we need to be cut open in order to share our sweetest layers.

By Parker J. Palmer July 22, 2015

The imprint a father leaves on his child remains. Parker remembers his deceased Dad and the values he imparted with a poem.

By Trent Gilliss July 21, 2015

On searching inside yourself, cultivating deep curiosity, and acknowledging women's talents as we flow like water?