The Graduation Speech We’d Like to Give (Part I)

graduation

It's that time of year, when millions of students "graduate" to a new stage of their education or life. During the ceremonies they will hear representatives of their classes share about what they have learned and then listen to graduation speakers talk about what they will need as they move into the future. Here's the graduation speech we'd like to give -- offering "wisdom to go" in the form of spiritual practices for everyday life. (This is Part I; we'll have more wisdom to go next … [Read more...]

The Spiritual Value of Repetition and Routine

routinelrg

Variety is the spice of life. We've been taught that by our consumer culture since we were very young. Think of all the movies in which immigrants experience for the first time the incredible diversity of brands in a supermarket. Our stores are stuffed with variations on the same things. All this feeds our need to constantly seek new foods, clothing styles, appliances, technological toys, and other objects of our desires. We are also programmed by our culture to look down upon the drudgery of … [Read more...]

12 Practices to Honor the Earth

earthday

Spiritual practices are the best ways we know to demonstrate kindness and courtesy toward the Earth, to express our gratitude and wonder, to yield to the mystery and the beauty of it all. In observance of Earth Day we offer a set of practices (from the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy) you can do to honor the Earth over the next months. 1. Attention The great Catholic writer Ernesto Cardenal in Abide in Love observes: "Everything in nature has a trademark, God's trademark: the stripes on a … [Read more...]

Easter: Resurrection as a Spiritual Practice

resurrection

On Easter Sunday, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, an event many consider to be the centerpiece of their faith. But Easter is more than just a day. What happens when we think of it as a verb? Then the resurrection becomes a spiritual practice in daily life. Megan McKenna, the prolific and profound Catholic writer, saw it this way when she was leading a Bible study. She shares the following vignette in her book Not Counting Women and Children: Neglected … [Read more...]

Spring: 6 Ways to Inaugurate the Season

earthday

"Just as there are seasons in the world around us, so there are in our interior life," Teresa of Avila wisely observed. "We cannot expect it to be otherwise." Spring is a season of renewal and rebirth. It's a time when buds become leaves and flowers, when healing rain washes city streets and falls like grace on parched country fields, when the hard ground beneath us softens to allow shoots of new life to emerge. As outside, so inside. Spring is a time for cleaning out and making way for … [Read more...]

Transition Times and Spaces

4seasons

One day it snows. The next day it's 50 degrees and people are filling the park down the street. Of course, we say, it's March, one of those transition times of the year when it's not quite winter and not quite spring. March always gets us thinking about other transition times and spaces. Our days are punctuated by transitions. For example, we go through three entrances and use three sets of keys to get into our home. First, we open the entrance to our building from the street and walk into a … [Read more...]

Keeping Silent

12silencehome

The world is noisier than ever - at least on our street. New York's one of those places that would be really, truly great if they ever finished it. The building next door is undergoing construction, which means pieces of its former insides are being ground up and compacted into garbage dump-trucks outside our windows. Many people see noise as a good thing signaling progress, energy, and excitement. "Make a joyful noise," they cry. Others prefer the caution: "The Lord is in his temple; let all … [Read more...]

Snow Day/Practice Day

snowman

The great Christian monk Thomas Merton once compared the spiritual life to the search for a path in a field of untrodden snow: "Walk across the snow and there is your path." This thought came to mind this weekend as snowstorm Nemo blanketed the Eastern U.S. with deep snow. How can we make a walk across the snow into a spiritual practice? Here are some ways. Be Grateful. The day after the storm, we went over to our neighborhood park in New York City. The sidewalks and streets were already … [Read more...]

How Not to Worry

worry

In her wonderful book It's Easier Than You Think Buddhist teacher Sylvia Boorstein calls herself "a recovering worrier." She admits to being one of those people who is continually making up negative stories about what might happen, but she tries not to believe them. We can identify with that. We, too, quickly forget Mark Twain's sage comment that most of the things we worry about will never happen. We suspect the worry machine is chugging along in a lot of other people's lives as well. We are … [Read more...]

Learning to Be Content

contentment

We've decided that a good goal for 2013 is contentment. We sure see plenty of discontentment around us. Our consumer culture runs on it! Advertising pitches are designed to make us always want something more, better, or different. Every day we face moments when we can choose to be happy and satisfied or we can fall into a pattern of discontentment. We eat breakfast and wonder why our usual cereal tastes bland. We listen with some jealousy as a friend describes her weekend activities when we … [Read more...]


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