We receive quite a few responses from people who are spurred to create or make something, to act or make a decision after listening to one of our shows. Renee Yates, a woman with multiple degrees in advertising, marketing, and theology living in Evanston, Illinois, wrote this poem “after listening to Ms. Tippett’s interview with the Dalai Lama”:
A story of learning and friendship and circles of learning in which each person is a teacher — of learning how to live with death and learning how to live.
Photo by Katie Harris/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0
Don’t worry. The article you are about to read has nothing to do with what you should or shouldn’t put on your Thanksgiving dinner plate. There’s nothing worse than having your hopes for the perfect holiday meal dashed by someone telling you that you might want to think twice before choosing this or that side dish.
No, this article is about the undeniable health benefits of thanksgiving — that is, the conscious expression of gratitude — itself.
Gratitude is extolled by every religion on earth as an essential virtue. Cicero, the renowned Roman orator, called it “not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.” Only recently, however, have medical researchers begun delving into the impact gratitude has on our mental and physical health.
In his new book, Parker Palmer takes a deep and wise look at the loss of values that have impoverished American democracy and public life. He discusses healing the heart of democracy and the five habits necessary in moving forward. Our extended correspondence interview with the Quaker elder and educator.
On a morning, sharp with winter, fresh with cold, I rise and walk on mesa paths,
red with longing-mine, red with loving-mine.
In slivers of air, here and there, smells of sage come and go. But their memory always lingers.
Bluejays dart through juniper without even a hello. But ravens stop and chat.
From the tops of topmost branches, they say: one day, you’ll understand our conversation.
And it maddens me. By which I mean, it gladdens me beyond belief. Or rather, into it.
Every day is the anniversary of something. The date on the calendar ripples with other dates, other stories.
For one woman with MS, a tree reminds her to make t'shuva — to turn inward, to return to goodness and godliness in preparation for the High Holy Days. A guest reflection for all to ponder.
During the month before the High Holy Days, it's Jewish tradition to read Psalm 27, writes our guest contributor. She reflects on turning inward and the struggle of preparing for quiet reflection.
I’m from the fire my father had for life and the fire my mother had for living. His was fueled by parties, drugs, wit, and self-involvement, hers by longing, anger, spite, and sweat. He was vivid.
When a poet is assaulted in a grocery parking lot for the length of his shorts, what does he do? Write a poem. A guest post from Luke Hankins.
In addition to providing me with a least a decade’s worth of entertainment, J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series has also given me a fresh and hopefully meaningful way to explain my not-always-easy-to explain religion to others. And given that practically half the world has either read or seen the last installment of this epic series, I feel comfortable doing so without fear of spoiling the ending.
But first a little background…
When I moved to Jerusalem two years ago, I thought for sure that I would continue my yoga practice, especially after having yoga present in my life in so many ways for so many years. And I thought that I would even find others in this holy city to practice with. A sangha, a space, a teacher.
If there is one tangible object that represents my mother, it would be a quilt. She spent my childhood making beautiful patterns: lone stars, flying geese, double wedding rings. Each stitch was exactly even and the corners of the fabric joined together just right.
photo: C. Jill Reed/Flickr, cc by-sa 2.0
In honor of the 60th National Day of Prayer today, I thought it fitting to share a bit about what prayer means to me.
Most recently I’ve been thinking of prayer as an unmistakable reminder from God that I’m not helpless and alone in this world. These reminders come not just during moments of peaceful reflection but during even the busiest of days as I find myself appreciating qualities of God I see expressed by others — qualities such as patience, compassion, grace, wisdom, order, intelligence, and joy.
A balloon flies over Eisenmann Memorial in Berlin. (photo: Danny/Flickr, cc by-nc-sa 2.0)
Our household was a heavy one. I always felt the presence of sadness and loss; those emotions were part of everything that took place in our family, including birthdays and personal achievements. I knew where the sadness and sense of loss came from, to an extent, from stories that Aba (my father Yehoshua) told — and from his writings.
Growing up, I did not want to touch those places where the sadness and loss came from. Ouri, my oldest brother, calls these hard to touch places hamekomot harotetim, “the trembling places” inside of us.
By acknowledging our shared humanity, we can begin to build bridges, friendships, and relationships — and heal past memories and create new ones.
A sign hangs on the wall of a Taizé community in Burgundy, France. (photo: forteller/Flickr, cc by-nc-sa 2.0)
It is Easter week. This week, we remember the events from Thursday’s meal to Friday’s torture to Saturday’s silence and Sunday’s mystery.
Years ago, 13 years ago in fact, I fell apart. I was 22 and I had already been sick for a year. It had started with a bad flu that had never gone away. After 12 months, I was bewildered and dizzy and achy, confused with a fatigue and an illness that would take a further five years to diagnose and a total of nine years to recover from.
by Jill Schneiderman, guest contributor
Japan has been on all our minds and in all our hearts. There doesn’t seem to be enough capacity in the human soul to witness nature unleash its force on man in this way. Helplessness still sits with us even after the contributing of funds to relief efforts.
The magnitude of the disaster and continuing saga has made us all feel vulnerable to the uncertainty of life. We can’t fathom how recovery can possibly follow such devastation.
Then there’s me here in my studio just painting clouds and wondering how what I do could possibly matter. And then today I happened upon this Rilke poem after I finished the painting shown above. And the words could not be more profound and with them my painting feels right again.
Threshold of Spring
Harshness gone. All at once caring spread over
the naked gray of the meadows.
Tiny rivulets sing in different voices.
A softness, as if from everywhere,
A magical description of the primordial silences of people and places outside urban corridors by Taline Voskeritchian.
“The Platform of Surrender” (photo: Anna Gay/Flickr, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
While going through the process of divorcing my husband, living as a single mother with my daughter, working full time in a classroom for severely physically and cognitively disabled children, and going to college full time in the evenings, I began to ponder what true love is. It was during this time that I had the following experience with a wonderful lady, Ms. Fran.
(photo: Scott Jungling/Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons)
I so enjoyed your show with the poet Ms. Alexander. It emboldened me to forward one of my poems. “Twisted” is a biographical and personal reflection of God’s grace unfolding in the life of someone (myself as well as others), who with the benefit of years of hindsight, can agree with those before them who said, “My soul looks back and wonder, how I got over!”
By Empty Tomb
A bastard born,
Not meant to be,
No concept of my father’s tree.
Without a compass, adrift at sea,
Another brother … twisted.
by Jessica Kramer, guest contributor
“Mom’s birthday breakfast” (photo: Jessica Kramer/Flickr)
Christmas is almost upon us. In seeking God during this time, I have sought renewal in the darkness of winter, in the stillness in which to hear God. This fourth week of Advent brings promise of harmony, that the (often disjointed) pieces of our lives, hearts, and emotions might be joined into a single, but rich and layered, sound of joy.
“Human Tapestry” is a three-dimensional painting running on and off the canvas that measures 6 feet high by 16 feet wide by 24 inches deep. The work is visual prospect for international peace and the continuation of life on our shared planet.
Eleven life-sized figures represent various countries and political ideologies. Each is draped in her own flag, her own nationalism, seemingly separate and distinct from that of any other country. While each flag is a symbol of a reciprocal system of language and customs of the people of an individual nation, it also serves to define geographic boundary lines on the earth.
The flag then becomes a symbol of separatism rather than alliance. Instead of recognizing our common human bonds and celebrating our universality, we see ourselves as isolated and often superior to one another.
A guest contributor reflects on how being still with life's deaths and resurrections connects her to the universe.