We experience the physical world around us through our five senses. Through our imagination and our intelligence, we recall, organize, conceptualize, and meditate. What we meditate upon is never shapeless or filled with alien emotion—it is filled with all the precise earthly things that we have ever encountered and all of our responses to them. The task of the meditation is to put disorder into order. No one could think, without first living among things. No one would need to think, without the initial profusion of perceptual experience.
–Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook, pg 105
Light splashed this morning
on the shell-pink anemones
swaying on their tall stems;
down blue-spiked veronica
light flowed in rivulets
over the humps of the honeybees; Continue reading “The Round”
I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn’t fight.
He hadn’t fought at all. Continue reading “The Fish”
Poems are “imaginary gardens with real toads in them,” said Marianne Moore.
–Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook, pg 92
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
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
The ‘mobile, shifting, hedonistic, technicist’ mentality that one encounters in the dominant metropolitan culture today ‘has no sense of personal guilt and yet possesses an excoriating sense of collective sin.’
–Charles Taylor citing David Martin, A Secular Age, pg 618