Brené Brown on Vulnerability and Suicide

For soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, coming home is more lethal than being in combat. From the invasion of Afghanistan to the summer of 2009, the US military lost 761 soldiers in combat in that country.  Compare that to the 817 who took their own lives over the same period. And this number doesn’t account for deaths related to violence, high-risk behaviors, and addiction… The situation may be at its most extreme in the military, but if you look at the mental and physical health statistics of police officers, you’ll find the same thing.

Take away the guns, in fact, and we find outcomes similar to those for soldiers and police in corporate America.  Lawyers—an example of a profession largely trained in win or lose, succeed or fail—have outcomes that aren’t much better. The American Bar Association reports that suicides among lawyers are close to four times greater than the rate of the general population.

–Brené Brown, Daring Greatly, pg 154-155

Brené Brown on Faith and Vulnerability

When religious leaders leverage our fear and need for more certainty by extracting vulnerability from spirituality and turning faith into “compliance and consequences,” rather than teaching and modeling how to wrestle with the unknown and how to embrace mystery, the entire concept of faith is bankrupt on its own terms.  Faith minus vulnerability equals politics, or worse, extremism. Spiritual connection and engagement is not built on compliance, it’s the product of love, belonging, and vulnerability.

–Brené Brown, Daring Greatly, pg. 176-177

A Return to the Poor In Spirit

For a long time, I sought safety and security among the wise and clever, hardly aware that the things of the kingdom were revealed to “little children”; that God has chosen “those who by human standards are fools to shame the wise.” But when I experienced the warm, unpretentious reception of those who have nothing to boast about, and experienced a loving embrace from people who didn’t ask any questions, I began to discover that a true spiritual homecoming means a return to the poor in spirit to whom the kingdom of heaven belongs.

Henri J. M. Nouwen

Let Us Not Be Too Troubled By Our Weaknesses

Let us go forward quietly, forever making for the light, and lifting up our hearts in the knowledge that we are as others are (and that others are as we are), and that it is right to love one another inthe best possible way – believing all things, hoping for all things, and enduring all things.…And let us not be too troubled by our weaknesses, for even he who has none, has one weakness, namely that he thinks he has none, and anyone who believes himself to be so perfect or wise would do well to become foolish all over again.

–Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

 

To Brooklyn Bridge

How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,
Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
Over the chained bay waters Liberty—

Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes
As apparitional as sails that cross
Some page of figures to be filed away;
—Till elevators drop us from our day . . .

I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene
Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;

And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced
As though the sun took step of thee, yet left
Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,—
Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!

Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,
A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene;
All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn . . .
Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.

And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,
Thy guerdon . . . Accolade thou dost bestow
Of anonymity time cannot raise:
Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.

O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,—

Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
Beading thy path—condense eternity:
And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
The City’s fiery parcels all undone,
Already snow submerges an iron year . . .

O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.

–Hart Crane

Loving to the Point of Folly

Here is a letter we received today: “I took a gentleman seemingly in need of spiritual and temporal guidance into my home on a Sunday afternoon. I let him have a nap on my bed, went through the want ads with him, made coffee and sandwiches for him, and when he left, I found my wallet had gone also.” I can only say that the saints would only bow their heads, and not try to understand or judge.…These things happened for our testing. We are sowing the seed of love, and we are not living in the harvest time. We must love to the point of folly, and we are indeed fools, as our Lord himself was who died for such a one as this.

Dorothy Day, Called to Community