The humane sense of community envisioned by Confucius beholds society as a structure of human relationships that can be maintained and renewed through daily rituals. Believing that a healthy society is based on a healthy individual, Confucius said, “To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order; we must first cultivate our personal life; we… Read more

Despite all our differences, the unity of [hu]mankind will assert itself irresistibly. —Carl Jung   In my thirties, I almost died from a rare form of lymphoma. During that time, I encountered a strange and potent inversion of how we claim to care for each other in America. While it’s widely known in the province of law that we are innocent till proven guilty, once ill, we find ourselves in the province of medicine where we are sick till proven… Read more

As pollen gathers and disperses, as inlets form and wash away, instances of meaningful community cannot last. Eventually, they will disperse, not because there is something wrong with them, but because all forms are impermanent and run their cycle. Whether they form for a day or three hundred years, they surface from the reservoir of life-force and eventually join other confluences further downstream. However long, short, wide, or deep a true community might be, its impact is timeless. So the… Read more

We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results. —Herman Melville The sympathetic fibers that Melville refers to can become visible—but only to those who open their hearts. The Diné (Navajo) say that seeking wholeness is personal, an individual journey, while seeking harmony is transpersonal, a communal journey. The Diné word Ahyo-oh’-oh-ni means to bring one into harmony… Read more

An old friend drove me into the Santa Fe National Forest so we could walk the aspen grove. Walking among them, touching them, listening to their creak and sway, I could feel their connectedness. Above ground, aspen grow as individual trees, but belowground they’re enlivened by one interconnected set of roots. They are the most expansive growth of trees to share a common root system. This means they are one living organism and one living community—at the same time! This… Read more

I was in Vancouver at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia when I entered a rotunda whose seats are scalloped like ripples in a deep lake. At the center of the ripples, where the stone would have dropped, is an enormous wood sculpture of a large bird on a half-open shell in which humans are waking. Some of the waking figures are eager to come out, while others are hesitant. The larger than life carving is… Read more

My neighbor and I wave to each other through the trees, though we don’t even know each other’s name. After a snowstorm, we worm our way out. I admit it’s comforting to see another in the open, leaning on his shovel, his breath clouding as he looks again to the sky. There’s something primal in knowing that we each have a fire we huddle around. I love clearing the path to our door and leaving the light on. But if… Read more

In the Hindu Upanishads, there’s a passage that speaks to how those who become wise lose their names in the Great Oneness, the way rivers lose their names when they flow into the sea. In this transformation from the solitary to the communal, there’s a mysterious physics that each generation has to relearn regarding what is possible when we can work together. Time and again, we’re asked to discover, through love and suffering, that we are at heart the same…. Read more

I’m drifting today between the delicate and the harsh, between all that has passed and all that is yet to come. I think of my father now gone, and your mother now gone, and George’s mom who just died at ninety-nine. I feel stretched between the peace and tension that dilates and constricts for Eternity. When the Universe constricts, we are tense and conflicted. When the Universe dilates, we are still and at peace. I think of Joel who died… Read more

how little time there is, I’m falling in love with everything: the stranger whose name I’ll never know, and the crow pecking at the half bagel she left for him.   Now that the walls I didn’t know were walls have come down, I want to care for everything. And the sun warming in all directions without preference is showing me how.   Today my heart aches, not because something is lacking, but because the love I’ve carried all along… Read more

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