Saturday, February 18, 2023

Open to Change

My life has been filled with a fair bit of change and transition over the last few years, surrounded by lots of uncertainty. That has made for a natural time for reflection, and already being the type of person disposed toward reflection, I’ve been spending a fair bit of time thinking about the shape of my life: the decisions I’ve made, dreams I’ve chased, failures I’ve felt, and unlooked blessings found along the way. Like probably many of you, my life hasn’t taken the course I expected it would take, but I am profoundly grateful for where I find myself now and for the paths that still lie open in front of me. 

At the heart of that journey has been maintaining spiritual and reflective practices that support my aspirations, especially those related to kindness, wisdom, and justice. For decades now, for example, I repeat a simple aspiration before I meditate: “may I be with these next moments with openness and curiosity, with gratitude and kindness, so that wisdom can arise.” Those words have soaked into my heart-mind and become a familiar friend. After a few years, I found that they followed me off the cushion. Practicing with them intentionally made them available to me when I needed them during the day, when they can invite me back to the present moment, especially when I begin to feel overwhelmed by the uncertainties and sufferings of life. 

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Mindless Consumption and Grateful Contentment

There are some conversations with your mother that you can never forget. One of those, for me, was on the occasion of my twenty-first birthday. I had rushed through my university studies, but not so much because of some special educational virtue on my part. The truth was that I thoroughly disliked the whole experience, I didn’t know how long I could endure it, and I thought graduating as quickly as possible was preferable to dropping out. So I graduated early and found myself moving west for graduate school at the tender age of twenty. I turned twenty one while living close to Highway 1 in northern California. An eccentric friend of mine thought my relative youth made for a funny anecdote and couldn’t pass up the chance to take me for a celebration dinner at a winery, where I could take my first sip of alcohol.

Saturday, February 4, 2023

The Linchpin of a Chariot: Caring for One Another

There’s a story passed around about Karl Barth. I don’t know if it is a true story, but it’s the kind of story that tells the truth, whether it happened or not. The setup is simple: the community is asking pressing questions of the theologian. One concerned and earnest woman asks, “Is it true that we’ll see our loved ones again in heaven?” It feels clear that this question was about the existence and nature of the afterlife. So - “Is it true that we’ll see our loved ones again in heaven?” And the doctor replies, “Not only the loved ones.” 

Thursday, February 2, 2023

"Out of Hand": Tyre Nichols, Police Brutality, and Nonviolence

Even as we begin Black History Month in 2023, the powers-that-be insist on adding new entries into our long history of violence and inequality. Fresh in many of our hearts is the brutal murder of Tyre Nichols by Memphis police in early January. There has been some initial accountability, as five police officers have been fired and charged, and three EMTs were fired for failing “to conduct an adequate patient assessment.” But that accountability cannot erase the tragedy of Tyre’s death, or the continued brutal assault on marginalized, especially Black, communities by those with power and authority. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Black History Month, the College Board, and Accountability

        The continued attacks on studying Black History have ramped up, even as we begin a month dedicated to celebrating that very history. If you haven't heard - in late January, Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida’s Department of Education rejected the Advanced Placement course on African American studies. DeSantis called the move the “pursuit of truth,” accusing the AP course as being “the imposition of ideology or the advancement of a political agenda.” Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz Jr. went further, calling it "woke indoctrination masquerading as education."