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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 Omid Safi November 27, 2015

The recent atrocities in Paris and elsewhere in the world may be the new normal. We need to anticipate healing, our columnist says, before, during, and after these attacks in order to be whole and carry on with hope.

By Courtney E. Martin November 26, 2015

Genuine gratitude isn't necessarily about happiness or a soft, warm glow. It's messy and gritty and physical. From appreciating the glowing moon to marveling at the strange miracle of the human body, a celebration of thankfulness.

By Chris Martin November 25, 2015

With the gift of a poem, a father marvels at the infinities embodied by his young son in this lyrical moment of parental reverence.

By Parker J. Palmer November 25, 2015

American democracy is illumined by multiple voices calling us to pursue questions of personal, communal, and political meaning. A Quaker reminds us to vigorously question those who say the U.S. is a Christian nation.

By Trent Gilliss November 24, 2015

Recovery in the wake of trauma is a struggle, one we must sometimes work through collectively. Some guiding voices on thinking about grief and hardship with complexity — and move forward in a constructive and compassionate way.

By Georgia Travers November 24, 2015

The joy that we might normally feel in this season of Thanksgiving is tempered by sadness in the wake of violence. But the privilege and responsibility of gratitude may be the most powerful counter to these negative forces — whether embodied in a loving gesture, or through the appreciation of art.

By Trent Gilliss November 23, 2015

The hope for the future lies in the lyrics and the spoken words of Prince EA. See how wise and beautiful we are capable of becoming.

By Sharon Salzberg November 23, 2015

What happens when our icons are turned to rubble? Would their meaning still hold? Drawing on the Hindu tradition of ishta devata, Sharon Salzberg contemplates the Paris attacks and the Syrian refugee crisis through her favorite icon, the Statue of Liberty.

By Parker J. Palmer November 22, 2015

Parker Palmer pens an elegy to mark the anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination — a balm for a hurting world.

By Jane Gross November 21, 2015

Thanksgiving is the one holiday when our columnist's family spent the day together. In her imperfect efforts to revive the tradition of her childhood Thanksgivings, Jane Gross discovers that even small gestures — like keeping a set of gaudy dishes — can be all the tradition she needs.

By Courtney E. Martin November 20, 2015

What are the mysteries that remain once our well-crafted lives take a detour down uncharted narratives? A reflection on the messiness of a life less authored and more lived.

By Chris Heagle November 18, 2015

Watch our live video stream for an evening of music and conversation with ethnomusicologist Sowah Mensah, percussionist Marc Anderson, and composer Chris Beaty — exploring music through the cartography of their own lives.

By Parker J. Palmer November 18, 2015

In the wake of the Paris attacks, Parker Palmer highlights the importance of "wounded healers" and what we can do to let heartbreak open ourselves to suffering and the kindness necessary for social change.

By Becky LeBlanc November 17, 2015

When the complexities of life challenge us, we find ourselves longing for simplicity. A poetic rumination on the desire to bolster belief with understanding.

By Ananya Vajpeyi November 17, 2015

The daughter of the renowned Hindi poet Kailash Vajpeyi turns to ancient rivers and archaic rituals to find comfort in the uninterrupted thread running through her past, present, and future.

By Sharon Salzberg November 16, 2015

The harmful cycle of guilt can devolve into cycles of self-hatred. Guiding words on the constructive work of remorse, which can be especially powerful when directed toward forgiving ourselves.

By Chris Beaty November 16, 2015

A composer's song for the background noise of a family living room — a soundtrack for the ordinary work of cooking, cleaning, and growing up.

By Omid Safi November 15, 2015

How should we receive the news from Paris? Omid Safi shares a few thoughts on the attacks after spending a day of silence.

By Robert Inchausti November 14, 2015

Confronted with the separate, psychological worlds of our thoughts, Syd Banks' mysticism influenced a generation of psychiatrists and offers an alternative to the chaos of individual thoughts.

By Trent Gilliss November 13, 2015

It's important to feel gratitude for the small things in life: moments of calm, the love we experience and witness, the qualities that make us and our children unique — and well-designed book covers! A collection of writings on how we can more wisely approach the highs and lows of the daily journey.

By Courtney E. Martin November 13, 2015

Being a mother is an act of transformation and discovery. Courtney Martin examines the gifts of obliteration of motherhood, and the maternal love that rushes in as responsibility beckons.

By Omid Safi November 12, 2015

There are many connections most of us do not see. Stories of hope about educating the "whole child" in North Carolina and a village in Afghanistan using pizza party donations and Rumi's poetry as a bridge.

By Parker J. Palmer November 11, 2015

There are those people who know how to get ahead of the train wreck and those folks who are called to their senses after the collision has happened. But, catastrophe, too, can be a contemplative path if you choose to accept it.

By Sherry K. Watt November 11, 2015

What if we acknowledged racism as a disease, and treated it accordingly? A cancer survivor asks and ponders the lessons she's learned from battling the illness as she watches recent events at the University of Missouri unfold.

By Carina Devera November 10, 2015

A photo essay on the humbling privilege of climbing the highest mountain in the continental United States — and the value of persistence.