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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 Courtney E. Martin October 09, 2015

We often think of "genius" as a belonging to individuals, not as something nurtured by community. Courtney Martin challenges this idea, thinking back on the writers group that continues to inspire her work today.

By Siri Liv Myhrom October 08, 2015

The winter years of life can be oppressively lonely. But the smallest gestures can bring back light and warmth, even a bit of friendliness from a stranger in a coffee shop.

By Helen Moore October 08, 2015

An expression of gratitude for this fine day. A morning murmuration, if you will, for all the things we may take for granted in performing our daily rituals and taking stock of life's simple pleasures.

By Parker J. Palmer October 07, 2015

The metaphors we use matter. Parker Palmer claims the metaphor of seasons to gently remind us that we're not in charge, that we're not alone, that it's possible to transform and be transformed in this world.

By Trent Gilliss October 06, 2015

To inscribe the names of the lives lost in Roseburg, Oregon is an act of remembrance. And so we do. Some reminders that we can still find hope in empathy, community, and lovingkindness, despite the immense physical and emotional pain that sometimes befall us.

By Jeff Severns Guntzel October 05, 2015

A classic love song takes on new meaning in the light of darkness. A war correspondent hears Ry Cooder's version of "Dark End of the Street" as an ode to suffering and the light that shines on.

By Sharon Salzberg October 05, 2015

When asked about love, people frequently use the word "need." Sharon Salzberg analyzes this intermingling and why we should find a way to disentangle them to better understanding of real need, and real love.

By Jane Gross October 04, 2015

Many people may only attend services on special holidays or days of sacred obligation. Jane Gross, a single New Yorker now in her 60s, relays her own story of trying to reconnect with community for the Days of Awe and finding new comfort in her solitude on Yom Kippur.

By Heather McRae-Woolf October 03, 2015

In an increasingly frenetic world, emptying the mind in intentional silence can feel impossible. By returning to the Quaker tradition, one mother rediscovers the solace of communal stillness and embracing the busyness of her thoughts.

By Courtney E. Martin October 02, 2015

The once thick, black line between personal and professional connections appears to be fading. Its replacement is a new kind of network rooted in our relatedness and built on the generosity authentic friendships.

By Omid Safi October 01, 2015

When teaching about 9/11 and the dignity of all lives, a professor encounters a student in class who lost her father in the World Trade Center attacks. Her kind response is a reminder that we must sometimes reconcile our advocacy for, and anger towards, others with compassion for our fellow human beings.

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.

By Trent Gilliss September 29, 2015

A medley for the mind with words from F. Scott Fitzgerald, Teju Cole​, Adam Gopnik​, and other thoughtful writers on embracing change around and within us, and the enduring power of hope and love.

By Janie Brown September 29, 2015

For the end of Suicide Awareness Month, an elegy for a vibrant but fragile life unraveled by mental health — and one woman's challenge to recognize love in the presence of desperation.

By Sharon Salzberg September 28, 2015

If kindness, especially towards ourselves, is not our habit, where will it come from? Sharon Salzberg tells of her first encounter with lovingkindness and how we use can this practice to look upon ourselves differently — and with those we most want to ignore.

By Annie Parsons September 28, 2015

The joyous festival of Sukkot calls to mind a song by the Wailin' Jennys, a melodic demonstration of unity in the midst of diversity, not to mention a transportive listen.

By Paul Anderson September 27, 2015

Hand-scribed illuminations with superb calligraphy and embossed with gold leaf adorn the The Saint John's Bible, the first one of its kind to be commissioned in half a millennia. Drawing on key parables from the gospel of Luke, a theologian reflects on the enduring, prophetic message of mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation, and being a good neighbor.

By Andréana E. Lefton September 26, 2015

Like Nature herself, our untamed “inscape” may be fearsome and sublime, but it is also playful. A writer experiences the world, vivid and vibrant — and laced with a sacred vitality.

By Courtney E. Martin September 25, 2015

What if we stopped focusing on scale so much, stopped equating size with success? Courtney Martin looks to a new better off where we invest in people and businesses within walking distance for a more stable economy and community.

By Omid Safi September 24, 2015

"In their love, their tenderness, and their hope, there is hope for all of us." Inspired by a moving photo of a pair of Syrian refugees, Omid contemplates how love can motivate us to take a treacherous path in hopes of reaching a brighter future.

By Parker J. Palmer September 23, 2015

Summer's passing and earth's decay can elicit a deepening melancholy for some. A pondering on the "paradoxical dance" of darkness and light and giving oneself over to its endless interplay — with lyrical assists from Rainier Marie Rilke and Thomas Merton.

By Dave Joseph September 22, 2015

Atoning for one's shortcomings can be a challenge, especially as a child. A conflict mediator tells his story of moving from feelings of self-castigation to an opportunity for healing confession on this solemn Day of Atonement.

By Trent Gilliss September 22, 2015

From allowing ourselves to move on from the ephemeral to refreshing our relationships with our loved ones, colleagues, and ourselves, writings on embracing change and allowing ourselves to grow.

By Mohammed Fairouz September 21, 2015

Two sacred celebrations coincide this year. Through the ancient story of Joseph, Mohammed Fairouz reimagines a world bound together in a common family and a common future.

By Annie Parsons September 21, 2015

As the days grow shorter and the sun sinks lower, for some the internal darkness can become all too real. An Austin-based singer-songwriter shares a song of hope only gained from struggle.