Thursday, November 25, 2021

Gratitude is a Practice

Thanksgiving is a conflicted holiday for many of us. Despite the sacred civic myth that has grown up around it, Thanksgiving as the USA has come to celebrate it has roots in colonial violence and hides a much more complicated history. ( )  But in 1863, Abraham Lincoln was not as interested in historical accuracy, or in reckoning with the nation’s colonial violence, as he was in creating a unifying national holiday amid the terrors of the American Civil War. Over the centuries, our collective avoidance has perpetuated a lot of harm that we are hopefully beginning to address. There are, after all, good reasons why many Native communities call it “Thanks-taking.” 

  The conflict comes when people (not me) have fond memories of Thanksgiving and genuinely enjoy the traditions and gatherings. Having just passed through another year of civic myths, televised parades, football games, and comprehensive coverage of Black Friday sales, it’s probably a good moment to reconnect with that kernel of goodness in Thanksgiving. That is, gratitude is truly essential to our health, both personally and socially, and practicing gratitude is something we can all do to make life better for ourselves, others, and the earth. 

Saturday, November 20, 2021

We Take Our Space in the World: Transgender Day of Remembrance

I offered a guided meditation at the close of our local Transgender Day of Remembrance as a practice to help us get in touch with our bodies and feelings; reconnect with our community and aspirations; and recommit to working together to create a world where justice, equity, and joy are the norms. 

Listening to these names and getting glimpses of the vibrant lives our trans siblings have lived, we realize the loss our communities have experienced and the deep pain that so many of us carry every day. Let’s pause to recognize and honor our feelings in this moment, whether it is grief, anger, fear, despair, hope, a mix of all this at once, or something else. 


Each time we gather like this, we can’t help but remember the world we live in. It is a world that makes it very clear that we are misunderstood and unwelcome. We have named that violence tonight, and we also recognize the violence that so often excludes our transgender and gender expansive siblings from families, jobs, housing, medical care, educational opportunities, and citizenship. We especially remember the harm inflicted on members of our trans family that are Black, Brown, and Indigenous, who also suffer the injustices of racism in all its forms. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

“Almost All of the Land in the World is Claimed”

Necoclí is a small town on Columbia’s Caribbean coast, known mostly for, as one travel headline put it, “Crabs, coconuts and volcano swimming.” When Tom Heyden wrote that column in 2011, he could focus on how “the town’s charm relies on its surrounding natural beauty, which provides visitors with the opportunity to relax and soak up the sun.” His descriptions include gorging “yourself on sweet, juicy mangos,” crabbing, and walking to the local volcano, where you can jump “straight into the murky, muddy crater of the volcano. … The feeling is truly bizarre as you half-float, half-sink in the midst of this active volcano, toying with the squelchy, infirm floor beneath you.” (í-crabs-coconuts-and-volcano-swimming/ )

“No Choice But to Keep On Going”

It sounds idyllic and delightful, and I very much wished that this was all we could say about the lovely town of Necoclí. But I would guess that, if you have heard of Necoclí at all, it is not because of the juicy mangos or volcano swimming. Beyond sunny beaches perfect for napping in a hammock, the roads that take you there also take you as close as you can get to Panama, where refugees seeking asylum in the USA must cross a dangerous stretch of jungle known as the Darién Gap.