March 29, 2016

By Barbara Falconer Newhall Were those wildflowers purple? Indigo? Cerise? Or what? It was impossible to tell for sure. I had spotted a tall stand of fireweed growing on the edge of a woodlet in the Pacific Northwest, and I was walking around and around it, trying to get a bead on the flowers’ elusive color. I took photos, lots of them, and, sure enough, when I pulled the captured images up on my monitor back home, I still couldn’t tell what color they were…. Read more

March 22, 2016

By Barbara Falconer Newhall Want to experience a miracle? Take a walk on one of Washington state’s San Juan Islands. Beach, forest, wetland, meadow — the various San Juan Islands ecosystems often coexist just steps from one another. An afternoon’s walk can take you past woodsy kinickinick, sun-loving oxeye daisies, and salty pickle grass wafting in the tide. Miracles all. Two summers ago, I spent the second week of July taking pictures on a tiny peninsula on one of the San… Read more

March 15, 2016

Photo by Barbara Newhall Photo by Barbara Newhall By Barbara Falconer Newhall Do trees have souls? Does anyone? Deciduous trees in winter, shorn of their leaves and their greeniness, seem so full of heart and will and intention — despite their barren branches — that I want to say, yes, trees have souls and, therefore, so do we. My reductionist scientist friends would slap my hands, however, and say, “Get real. Humans are hard-wired to see pattern and cause-and-effect in the things… Read more

March 8, 2016

If you’re into Mexican art or the Christian Gospel — but especially if you’re into both — consider tucking a visit to Atotonilco into any future plans you might have to visit  San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico. Allow a full morning or afternoon to just sit in the masterpiece that is the Santuario de Atotonilco. There are lots of good reasons for visitors to San Miguel to budget a day trip to the nearby town of Atotonilco (and take the time to figure out how the heck… Read more

March 1, 2016

Does brutality beget brutality? What are the long-term effects of torture on the person tortured? When Airman Robert Tharratt’s B-17 bomber was shot down over Nuremberg during World War II, he parachuted to safety only to be captured by a troop of Hitler Youth brandishing  knives. The boys were wearing lederhosen, the traditional leather shorts worn by German men. Robert’s months of captivity were followed by a brutal forced march across Germany. Fifteen hundred out of six thousand POW’s died on the march. When Robert was finally liberated in 1945, he weighed 109… Read more

February 23, 2016

Gandhi overlooking a parking lot, a front yard Virgin Mary, Jesus on a fuse box. Where am I? Austin has the reputation of being not your typical Texas town: it’s more liberal and more secular than the rest of this Bible Belt state. Perceptions notwithstanding, there’s plenty of religion going on in Austin. You can see it everywhere, from the street. Catholics, Hindus, Buddhists, Mormons, Evangelicals — Austin has them all. Here’s what I spotted with my trusty point and shoot, sometimes without even getting out… Read more

February 15, 2016

I had heard good things about Simone Weil for many, many years. I suspected she had something important to say to me, but I was also pretty sure that her writing would be rough going. I was right on both points. A couple years ago, I finally buckled down and did some heavy reading. Here’s what I learned: Weil’s Waiting for God was first published, posthumously, in 1951. And, yes, Waiting for God is a dense, highly politicized book. (Weil had been a Marxist and… Read more

February 9, 2016

By Barbara Falconer Newhall Do dogs have souls? Can they embody the divine? A dog named Bunker kinda makes you wonder. Julie Barton calls Bunker her soulmate. They were as emotionally close as a dog and a person can be. But, to hear Barton tell it, there was more than just friendship going on here between dog and human. There was healing. In her fine memoir, “Dog Medicine,” Barton describes her sudden descent into severe depression and the golden retriever, Bunker, whose devotion became… Read more

February 3, 2016

By Barbara Falconer Newhall I’m celebrating today:  “Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith” has been out there for people to buy, borrow, read and talk about for a full year as of today. Here’s what folks have been saying about it: In the Media A Wild and Wonderful Ride   “Any seeker of any faith will be blessed to read the words of this fine author and observer.” — Publishers Weekly, Starred review On Amazon Why Respect for People of Faith Matters   By… Read more

February 2, 2016

My mother died five winters ago. As her death approached, I imagined a poignant death-bed scene like the ones in the movies — her family gathered around, holding her hands and leaning in to hear her last words, something meaningful, of course. If you read the obits, after all,  it seems that everybody’s mother or father gets to “die peacefully at home surrounded by loving family.” Didn’t happen. My mother’s last words to me were nothing much. No parting words of love…. Read more

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