The Story Behind the Story

The great sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) is a moving example of how an artist was shaped by his unwavering commitment to find the story behind the story. In 1891, Rodin was commissioned by The Society of Men in Letters in Paris to create his now legendary sculpture of the eminent French novelist Balzac (1799-1850). Rodin immediately immersed himself in understanding who Balzac was. The sculptor researched the character and personality of Balzac, and read all the author’s books. He traveled… Read more

Taking Turns

Our sweet dog Mira has an eye infection and so each day for a week, three times a day, we take turns, calling her to the kitchen where she sits against the cabinet as we hold a warm compress to her sore eye. Today, it’s my turn. The sun is rising and I’m on my knees, holding her head, as she looks up at me with her other eye. This is what ailments do: they bring us to our knees… Read more

Finding What Can Last

Dr. Leonard was about to trim down an old tooth for a crown and I was all numbed up, listening to the Beatles—Abbey Road—on small headphones. About halfway through, I began to feel the drilling. It wasn’t bad, but I was afraid the drill would hit the nerve and get much worse. Nerve pain in a tooth is such a piercing thing. There it was—a sudden jolt of sharp pain overcame my whole being, radiating out. You can never see… Read more

The Secret is Burning

but I can’t tell if it’s using us up or lighting the way. Back from Prague, I tell my father of the Jewish Cemetery so strangely full of life and ask if he had to hide being a Jew. He says, “Of course. A nail sticking up will get hammered.” At 89, he can barely walk, has set up chairs in all the rooms, so he can look for where he left the secret. He says, “The places get shorter…. Read more

She’s Been Gone a Month

I’m teaching in Santa Barbara. The sun is setting. The group is having dinner. Someone from Alaska asks me what kind of dog Mira was. How can I possibly say? I start but stop and close my eyes. Another woman offers softly, “I understand.” In the morning, there’s a man in a wheelchair in our group. He has a service dog, Forest, a golden retriever. Forest is beautiful but I can’t pet another dog, not just yet. I’m afraid, if… Read more

At the Window

I was at the window when a fly near the latch was on its back spinning— legs furious, going nowhere.   I thought to swat it but something in its struggle was too much my own.   It kept spinning and began to tire. Without moving closer, I exhaled steadily, my breath a sudden wind, and the fly found its legs, rubbed its face and flew away.   I continued to stare at the latch hoping that someday, the breath… Read more

Things No One Asks About

I have been called heroic for merely surviving, which is like championing an eagle for flying to its nest   and I have been condemned as selfish for following the call of truth, which is like blaming a turtle for finding the deep   and I have escaped death more than once but not the dying.   x   I have been worn slowly by experience and torn apart instantly by crisis and revelation and all I can say is… Read more

Our Spirit Path

After four months of aggressive chemo, I had to have a test known as First Pass, in order to determine if the chemo had damaged my heart. Through an IV, I was injected with a radioactive dye, which made me feel flush and hot. Then I watched the screen as the first pass of blood moved through the chambers of my heart. It was the only time I’ve seen my physical heart. Ever since, the heart and how it works… Read more

Issues of Control

Chapter 24 of the Tao te Ching by the legendary Lao Tzu offers helpful direction about the difference between self-awareness and self-deception. Let’s look at this one couplet. He who has power over others can’t empower himself. Lao Tzu suggests that we participate in life, we can’t control it. The effort to have power over others is a timeless form of denial of this great fact. Feeding the illusion of control diverts us from facing the truth of life, which… Read more

Earth Prayer

O Endless Creator, Force of Life, Seat of the Unconscious, Dharma, Atman, Ra, Qalb, Dear Center of our Love, Christlight, Yaweh, Allah, Mawu, Mother of the Universe…   Let us, when swimming with the stream, become the stream. Let us, when moving with the music, become the music. Let us, when rocking the wounded, become the suffering.   Let us live deep enough till there is only one direction, and slow enough till there is only the beginning of time,… Read more