October 8, 2018

He was thirteen before he knew what a hand drill was. His father saved and bought him one for 75 cents. Before that, he made holes in wood by twisting coal-fired nails into the grain. It was his job to throw wood in the fire after school. When red hot, he’d pinch a nail with a pair of pliers and twist it through the wood, which went soft and dark until there was an opening. Now his skin is thin… Read more

October 1, 2018

Maybe all my sufferings have been carving me into a statue of Ganesh that someone will find in the next life in a small store in New York, when they rush in to get out of the rain. Maybe all I’ve been through will draw them to pick me up and touch my long trunk or one of my four, giving hands. And though they can’t afford to take me home, they might circle the store three times before putting… Read more

September 24, 2018

The first big storm of winter cancelled all the flights. Like refugees, we lined up for word of any way out. I felt you struggling 140 miles away. In your grief, you’d been alone too long. I had to get to you. By the time I reached the counter, no more rental cars. I called around and found a service to drive me through the drifting dark. You’d left the lights on but he couldn’t get up our driveway. He… Read more

September 17, 2018

Everywhere I go, I meet people who’ve traveled on. Like the young man who grew up outside of Dubai. He now drives a taxi in Seattle and tells me that all roads lead to each other. And the mother of three whose father raised cattle in Nebraska. She now owns an apartment building in Austin. She tells me that when she closes her eyes, the openness of all those acres returns to her. Wherever I go, I listen to their… Read more

September 10, 2018

The old painter tells me that he loves to drive through small towns, so he can sketch the light and strike up conversations with the young woman who pumps his gas and the lobster fisherman who lets him bait his traps. He loves to meet life as it bubbles up between troubles. Last summer, he wanted to meet that poet from Nebraska, the one who speaks so simply of all that matters. He didn’t want to bother him, just to… Read more

September 3, 2018

In many ways, writing is listening and simply taking notes. One of the reasons I love the process of writing is that it enables me to listen until my loneliness opens into a blessed sense of aloneness. The gift of deep silence is that it allows us to let go of what we want so we can receive what we have. I’ve always been a learner of the heart, not a specialist of the mind. I can dissect and hone… Read more

August 27, 2018

Access to knowledge is a major step in deepening community, because it welcomes individuals into the ongoing conversation that is the life of community. A compelling example took place in Hanyang, Korea (now Seoul, South Korea), in 1443, when Sejong the Great (1397-1450) had a new phonetic alphabet, Hangul, created for the people of Korea. This extended literacy beyond the ruling class. With the creation of Hangul, knowledge and the conversation it opens became available to everyone. Now everyone had… Read more

August 20, 2018

When overwhelmed by the suffering, bring water to the first you find. When you can’t grasp, embody.   All life depends on water. As such, access to water has become a universal right in the world, regardless of faith, country, privilege, or poverty. Throughout the world, in a legal and common law way, people, corporations, and countries have access to water, but no one owns the water. What this means is that if a river passes through your land, you… Read more

August 15, 2018

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. —William James I was at the airport, traveling to New York, waiting to go through security with my passport out, when I noticed for the first time that each page has a quote on it. And two of them, back to back, capture the way we work with and against community in our American culture. On page 20, Lyndon Johnson says, “This is what America… Read more

July 23, 2018

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

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