Just Sit. And if You Cannot Just Sit, Write

“All of humanity’s problems stem from [a hu]man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” – Blaise Pascal.

While it is more important to actually meditate than to write about it, it is also important to meditate as you can, not as you can’t. Of the many types and styles of traditional meditation, I like zazen the best. But I am not really that Zen. I’m very much not Japanese. And while I admire the story and many of the teachings of Siddhartha Guatama, I’m not a Buddhist either. My legs have never been flexible enough to sit in the lotus position. Now poor circulation prevents me from sitting on the floor for very long at all even with a cushion. But, there’s hope! I found a way of meditation that suits me well. 

Because what is the point of meditation? For me, to meditate means to become still with what is. Frank Ostaseski calls it, “finding a place of peace in the middle of things.” I don’t have to like, feel good about, or be ok with the things. Just sit. Just be still. See what happens. 

In a performance that earned him an Oscar nomination for best actor, Riz Ahmed plays Ruben, a heavy metal drummer and recovering heroin addict in the 2019 film, Sound of Metal. When Ruben suddenly and inexplicably experiences almost total hearing loss, he finds Joe who leads a deaf recovery community. Take a look at the following clip about Joe’s meditation assignment for Ruben. (2:49 min.)

Just sit. And if you can’t just sit, write. Sounds easy enough, right? Watch what happens during Ruben’s first meditation practice. (0:50 sec.)

Granted, Joe’s method is not as aesthetically sexy as zazen, but then traditional Zen doesn’t offer coffee and a donut either! Have you found, as I have, that when you just sit still, stuff comes up from inside? Thoughts, feelings, anxieties, desires, fears, and even physical sensations? My own practice involves learning how to just sit with the void without trying to fill it up. In other words, I am learning how to be ok with not being ok.

Later on, the film shows Ruben coming into his room (with his coffee and donut) and just writing, writing, writing. For a while, after I first watched Sound of Metal, I wondered, “Why writing?” After my third viewing or so—and continued practice of my own—I have an idea. Writing is a way of downloading thoughts. It can engage both conscious and subconscious parts of the brain. And it engages my body in doing something tangible outside of the space between my ears. This kind of writing feels different than writing this article does, or even journaling. It’s just writing. Sometimes I experience a calming effect from writing, writing, writing and am able to just sit some more. 

Still later, in another scene, as the birds sing outside the window of his room, Ruben. Just. Sits. Momentary stillness. If you’ve experienced that, you know it can arise during meditation. And the experience of stillness usually doesn’t last very long. Maybe this is why they call it a “meditation practice”. And why in Zen there is no goal. No “so that”. Sit just to sit with whatever is there to sit with. 

A little over a year ago, I tested positive for COVID 19. Among the symptoms I experienced with the virus was complete loss of my sense of taste and smell. Overnight. Gone. Gradually both sensations began to return, though my sense of smell—and therefore my ability to detect many flavors—is still noticeably different from what it used to be. Curiously, one of the foods I regained taste for early on was ginger molasses cookies. My just sit/just write practice is to have a ginger molasses cookie and a cup of coffee at my kitchen table with my backyard bird feeders in sight and pen and notebook at hand. This small treat is a reminder to me of impermanence and loss and also a new discovery of an utter delight, because I can taste it!

Well, after other events transpire in the story (no spoilers!) Ruben has another conversation where Joe asks him about his meditation practice and about the stillness. (0:30 sec.)

“And that place will never abandon you.” (Joe) So, I just sit. And if I can’t just sit, I just write. And occasionally, sometimes, I experience moments of stillness. 

I am no longer waiting for a quiet moment;
my heart can be stilled whenever it is called.

I am no longer waiting for the world to be at peace;
I unclench my grasp and breathe peace in and out.

(Mary Anne Perrone)

One method of meditation is not objectively better than another. Entering the stillness is what matters. Try whatever you need to in order to discover and then practice what works for you. Zen practitioners also “sit just to sit” and also experience stillness. For a variety of reasons, Joe and Ruben’s way is more accessible for me. The moments of stillness keep me coming back. Well, that and the molasses cookies!

Love One Person

“Sound of Metal” (2019) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5363618/ (available to stream on Amazon Prime).

Frank Ostaseski’s book, The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully (https://fiveinvitations.com/).

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies Recipe: https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/chewy-ginger-molasses-cookies/#tasty-recipes-59998.


Why (as a Naturalist) I Pray

Meditation builds the energy and opens possibilities. But the reaching out? That is more the domain of prayer. Through prayer, we reach out to what is beyond our control, to what is beyond our sense of self, to the mystery of life itself.   — Ken McCleod

Over the course of my upbringing and early adulthood in the religion of Christianity—as well my work as a clergyman for nearly thirteen years in that tradition—prayer became a habit and a regular part of my spiritual practice. Even after letting go of Christianity and a sense of a personal deity over the past decade, prayer remains important to me.

You may wonder as I have, “How come? Is anyone listening? Does it even make a difference?” I offer this observation: Prayer is at least a psychological exercise that helps me adaptively manage my subjective interaction with my thoughts, feelings, body sensations, my work, other people, and the universe. I also know about myself that I am an external processor—I think best by speaking out loud. Maybe this is one reason I find praying helpful.

What is prayer anyway? J.D. Moyer writes: “Prayer is any kind of thought that addresses Other instead of Self. It’s a subtle but powerful shift in thinking mode.” Prayer can be the heart’s conversation with Nature, with my true self, with love, or with everything.

On the premise that any power greater than my own ego can restore me to sanity, I am agreeing that the heart’s address of “not-me” is what is helpful in prayer. Anne Lamott wrote a book about prayer called, Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers. Asking for help, giving thanks, and expressing wonder or complaint. That pretty well sums the “what” of prayer. 

Now, what about the “how” of prayer? I mean, how does one actually pray? Religious people often address their prayers to someone: “Our Father who art in heaven…” “Hail, Mary full of grace…” “I surrender to you, Lord Ganesha…” “Mother of all things, watch over me tonight…” “Bismillah ir rahman ir rahim.” I have been helped by the Buddhists in developing my non-theistic prayer life. It is possible to pray addressing the Other without addressing anyone in particular. Some examples:

“May I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.” (Help prayer.)

“I give thanks for this day and all that it holds; its joys and its sorrows; its pain and its peace; its challenges and its opportunities. I give thanks for the love of my friends and family. And for the earth that sustains our lives. Amen.” (Thanks prayer.)

“I rest in awe of the beauty of Nature. The majesty of the mountain and the tranquility of the mountain stream. The rain falls and waters the earth. Trees stand tall. Butterflies blossom. Amen.” (Wow wonder prayer.)

“I can’t take it anymore. Life feels unmanageable. I’ve lost my wife, my job, my truck, and my dog. Now my health is on the rocks. I’m angry, I’m sad, and I feel alone. What am I going to do? I need help! Amen.” (Wow complaint prayer leading back around to a Help prayer. Also, possible lyrics for my debut as a Country songwriter.)

Don’t get hung up on the words. Honest expression is more valuable than particular content. For example, in the 2011 film 360 Anthony Hopkins plays a recovering alcoholic who is looking for his daughter. Sharing in an AA meeting he says, “The fastest most powerful prayer in the world is ‘F*ck it!’… it’s a prayer of release and serenity and I felt the whole weight of the world going off of my shoulders.”

“Amen” just means “let it be so” and is a fitting way to conclude any prayer. 

If you are still wondering, “So what?” let me say two more things about the “why” of prayer. One is, don’t take my word for any of this. I invite you to try praying and see what happens. My experience has been that whatever effect prayer may or may not have on other phenomena, reaching out into the unknown through prayer changes me subjectively in ways I find helpful. Which leads me to the second thing about “Why pray?”

I do have an actual effect on countless other phenomena in this universe. Homespun sayings like, “Be careful what you wish for!” become commonplace idioms for a reason. They are used in our common speech because they arise in our collective awareness from our common experience. I actually knew a guy who lived in a tumble down mobile home near the Mississippi River and prayed he could find another place to live. Sometime later a flood came and washed him out and he was forced to find another place to live. Be careful what you wish for!

Now I am not suggesting that the flood happened as a direct result of his asking for it. What I am suggesting is that the thinking, feeling, speaking, and acting energy a person invests into the interconnected web of phenomena in our universe makes a difference. Things would not happen as they do without each interrelated phenomenon being what it is and doing what it does—wishes, dreams, and prayers included.

“Because that is what prayer is—it is a wide believing in the power of Love at work in the world, a believing that encompasses the pain and struggle and loss that come to all of us. More particularly, prayer for another also includes naming the work that must be done for change to happen, and then doing it.” (Diana Trautwein)

Whether alone, with my wife, with my best friend, or with the people in hospice for whom I am a chaplain, I use prayer as a technology for letting go—for accepting things the way they are instead of how I wish they were. I use prayer as a way of being with people and expressing love for them. I also use prayer as an inspiration and catalyst for change in myself and in the world.

Love One Person

This article is inspired by the following works:

– J.D. Moyer’s, Why (as an Atheist) I Prayhttps://www.jdmoyer.com/2011/07/25/why-as-an-atheist-i-pray/
– Say a Little Prayer, by Ken McCleod https://tricycle.org/magazine/buddhist-prayer/
– An Atheist’s Prayer, by Sally Fritsche: https://news-archive.hds.harvard.edu/news/2017/07/17/sally-fritche-atheists-prayer
– Help, Thanks, Wow: Three Essential Prayers, by Anne Lamott: https://www.amazon.com/Help-Thanks-Wow-Essential-Prayers/dp/1594631298
– A Wide Believing, by Diana Trautwein: https://shelovesmagazine.com/2018/a-wide-believing/
– 360 (film): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/360_(film) 

It Goes Together

“You want it to be one way, but it’s the other way.”
— Marlo Stanfield, The Wire (HBO 2002-2008).

Have you felt that tension? I have. What way do you want it to be? Do you want to live in a world where the good guys always win; where the bad guys always get what is coming to them; and everything works out well for you in the end? Growing up in the American Christian cultural context, I used to not only want it to be that way, I thought it was that way. Sometimes, I still wish it was. Over the years, I have come to realize, I do not live in that world. I live in this world. 

Gratefully, it is not the exact opposite either. (Where the bad guys always win and everything always goes wrong.) It seems to be another way. Which is also to say. It is both ways. They go together.

Sometimes I feel like things are going reasonably well. At least the things I choose to focus on in that moment. Other times, I feel like no matter how hard I try, nothing goes the way I wish it would. I can’t seem to get ahead. Just when the bank account gets full enough that I can think about taking that long weekend at an AirBnB, out of nowhere the car breaks down, the washing machine needs repair, a member of my family gets sick. Is it really out of nowhere? Not in the least. When I pause and reflect, the forces leading to the necessity were already at play. Of course they were. It goes together. 

We feel this tension every day. Individually, in our personal relationships, at work, and in the community at large. Political absolutism, relationship trouble, short staffing, lack of leadership, high turnover. Will it ever get better? Is there anything we can do to make it better? I am learning to cope with this tension by practicing awareness of relationality. Relationality means: it goes together.

The Taoists call this phenomenon Yin Yang. A phenomenon of opposites and interconnection. Both Yin and Yang are parts of this one universe and each includes the other. Alan Watts said, “The moment you hypothesize that you are different from the universe, you want to get one up on it. But if you try to get one up on the universe, and you’re in competition with it, that means you don’t understand you ARE it.” (1) 

There can be no Yin without Yang and no Yang without Yin. They go together. It is not one way or the opposite way. It’s the other way. The familiar image of a swirling black and white circle with the two opposite colored dots accurately symbolizes this phenomenon. The light and the dark. It goes together. 

Carl Jung articulated the Yin Yang-relationality archetypally in the image of the Tree of Life from Western mythology. 

He sees the tree of life, whose roots reach into Hell and whose top touches Heaven. He also no longer knows differences: Who is right? What is holy? What is genuine? What is good? What is correct? He knows only one difference: the difference between above and below. For he sees that the tree of life grows from below to above, and that it has its crown at the top, clearly differentiated from the roots. To him this is unquestionable. Hence he knows the way to salvation.

To unlearn all distinctions save that concerning direction is part of your salvation. Hence you free yourself of the old curse of the knowledge of good and evil. Because you separated good from evil according to your best appraisal and aspired only to the good and denied the evil that you committed nevertheless and failed to accept, your roots no longer suckled the dark nourishment of the depths and your tree became sick and withered.” (2)

Please read that last part again. In other words—Jung is saying—if you want your branches to wave in the breeze and your leaves to soak up the sunshine, you’ve got to have your roots deep in the compost down below. I don’t know about you, but it turns out I’ve been conditioned to avoid compost at all costs. I must have some more “distinctions to unlearn”.

Instead of imposing judgment on phenomena from the outside (“this is good”, “that is evil”, etc.), Jung invites our agnostic curiosity to pay attention to the phenomena of movement and process from within. What is actually happening? What goes along with this? With what else might this go? 

Sleeping goes with waking. Pooping goes with eating. Eating goes with food. Food goes with sun, rain, and—yes—compost. Suffering goes with happiness. Stress goes with even positive change. Complication goes with being human. Constant warfare at a microscopic level goes with the gift of feeling reasonably healthy at the whole-body level. Fear and anxiety go with the 24-hour news cycle. Greed goes with consumerism. Climate change goes with the use of fossil fuels. Alternative narratives go with oppression of marginalized people. Germs go with soap and water. Oxygen goes with breathing. Breathing goes with heart beats, brain waves, and also consciousness. Grief goes with love. Dying goes with living. It goes together.

I want it to be one way. I want to get one up on the universe. Just once, I would like to “have my cake and eat it too”. But I do not live in that world. I live in this world where more than one thing can be true at the same time. And life in this world continues to offer the universal invitation to embrace Yin along with Yang; the shadow—those less-desirable parts of myself, my family, my work, this society—along with the light. Only together do we all form the functioning whole. We go together. 

How then, do I know everything will work out well for me in the end? Actually, I don’t know that. I can’t know that, because it is impossible to know. But I can keep on learning—through my spiritual practices—how to become OK with that. I can even learn how to be OK without being OK. That can go together too.

Love One Person

(1) Watts, Alan, The Nature of Consciousness IIPart 6: What It Is to Seeemphasis in original.
(2) Jung, Carl G., The Red Book, Carpinteria: Philemon Foundation and New York: W. W. Norton & Co. (2009), pp. 359-60, quoted in Ellis, Robert M., The Christian Middle Way: The Case Against Christian Belief but for Christian Faith, Aleford: Christian Alternative Books (2018), Location 1276 (Kindle ed.).

Losing Beliefs and Finding Faith

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. – The 14th Dalai Lama.

Back in 2018, Dennis Oliver’s book review of The Christian Middle Way by Robert M. Ellis on SNS prompted me to download a copy to my eReader and give it a thorough read. Ellis’ book provided some helpful paradigmatic waypoints on my own long journey out of the absolutism of my literalist religious background and into what feels like a more adaptive provisional space of living. I have returned to my notes and highlights several times in the years since.

One helpful paradigm Ellis articulated for me is a distinction between beliefs and faith. So many Western philosophical positions are premised on beliefs. Many adherents hold their beliefs as absolutes, thereby closing themselves off to alternatives. I should know. I used to be one of them.

There are dozens of different kinds of beliefs. “I believe there is/is not a god.” “I believe the earth is round/flat.” “I believe that 2+2=4.” “I believe in science.” “I believe you.” “I believe I am safe.” “I believe I am in danger.” “I believe I am dying.” “I believe I will live forever.” “I believe I am worth loving.” “I believe I am unlovable.” “I believe such and such happens to people after they die.” Or, as the humorous sign hanging on the wall in my bachelor friend’s house reads, “Everyone needs something to believe in. I believe I’ll have another beer.”

Another friend of mine used to say during our weekly lunches, “Human beings have an endless capacity for belief.” Think about that abstractly for a moment. “I can believe anything!” Now think about that in the context of the wildly divergent absolute beliefs espoused by people in relation to the COVID-19 virus and vaccines. “Some people will believe anything.”

I would love to be able to consistently rely on the following logic: “Just look at the evidence, draw a reasonable conclusion, then act on it.” While this is not unreasonable and may even work sometimes, it has been my experience that no matter how reasonable my conclusion, it easily falls apart—or at least gets seriously modified—in the implementation. There is a difference between a belief in a logical conclusion based on review of evidence and beliefs that are embodied and experiential. This brings up the power of desire. What do I want to be true vs. what have I experienced to be true?

If my friend is correct about humanity’s endless capacity to believe, I wonder if it may be because humanity is also bottomless well of desires? Curiously, my beliefs—whether fixed over a lifetime, changing with the wind, or more likely somewhere in between—often depend on what I want. And what I really want deep down is influenced by my embodied experiences.

There have been many ways of articulating humanity’s basic ego desires for security, approval, and control. I have learned I need those actual things less than I think I do. What I really crave is the subjective sense (i.e., the illusion) of having them. Analyzed against this backdrop, most belief systems are cleverly designed to meet and satisfy one or more of these basic human desires.

Absolute beliefs get enshrined in dogma resulting in the phenomenon of enforcing conclusions at all costs. Irish poet Padraig O’Tuama wrote, “We don’t know what the truth is, but we know what we need our answer to be. And the answer is this, so therefore you’re wrong.”(1) Some people need there to be a god so their sense of reality makes sense. Other people need there not to be a god for the same reason. That is just one example. Fill in your own answer based on your own need and test the theory.

Faith can work differently than belief. While the word “faith” is also a noun—defined by the dictionary as essentially the same as belief—faith can also function more actively like a verb. An act of faith doesn’t actually require any particular belief or beliefs. An act of faith does not even require an object of faith. Living by faith can be as simple as keeping on going without knowing what will happen. Believe it or not, I suspect most of us live by faith to one degree or another.

Getting on an airplane is an act of faith. Driving a car is an act of faith. Paying a bill is an act of faith. Saying “I love you” is an act of faith. Getting out of bed is an act of faith. Saying, “I don’t know, we’ll see” is an act of faith.

Clinging to a set of beliefs tends toward absolutism. Living by faith can be provisional and relational within changing conditions. Beliefs tend to be static. Faith can be dynamic. Beliefs impose themselves on reality. Faith can be responsive to reality. Even the reality of death and loss.

In grief, when everything seems dark and chaotic, and we are crying with agony in our hearts, anything that the mind is holding on to as a belief will be very shaky. Belief is rooted in the mind, and in the face of death, the mind crumbles. We doubt everything that we have known to be true. Faith is rooted in the heart. It exists beyond the thinking mind. That’s why faith is important, even when it is only a fragile thread.(2)

An invitation to faith does not have to be an invitation to adopt a set of beliefs about anything. Some naturalist converts talk about “losing my faith” when what they really mean is “losing my religion.” Unfortunately, for many who walk a path out of one dogmatic system, it is easy to exchange our old beliefs for a new set of equally dogmatic beliefs. While the philosophy may be different, dogma still remains.

For me, “losing my religion” was more about letting go of certain beliefs including the belief that I needed to be certain about anything. The process of letting go of beliefs has helped me become a person more at peace with uncertainty and therefore more consciously open to faith. I have let go of the world of “I know” in exchange for the wonder of “We’ll see.”

Love One Person

1) O’Tuama, Padraig, In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World. Minneapolis: Broadleaf Books (2015), p. 129.
2) Ram Dass & M Bush, Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Loving and Dying, Boulder: Sounds True (2018), p. 142.

Befriending Death, Embracing Life

A gracious lady came to us
and favored us by receiving
kindly our care of her
at the end of all her days.

She was a lady made graceful
beyond what we had known
by the welcome she gave to death,
her guest, whom she made unfearful

by her fearlessness, having no further
use for herself as we had known her.
– Wendell Berry(1)

As a hospice worker I am around death on a daily basis. I visit people during the last months, weeks, days, hours, and moments of their lives. Sometimes with conversation. Sometimes with ritual or spiritual practice. Sometimes with silent presence. I have watched people die. I have laid my own warm hand on cold heads in peaceful commendation. I have said prayers with grieving families gathered at the bedsides of their loved ones before the funeral home arrives. Curiously, it is during that prayer that often the tears begin to flow. People ask me, “How can you do what you do?” I reply, “I love this work” and also, “Be careful what you get good at.”

Doing this work I have learned a few things about people and spirituality and death. One thing is that most of us at the end of our lives just want to experience love and not be in pain. Another thing is that the major religious traditions of the West are largely used as defense mechanisms against the fear of death while at the same time reinforcing the fear they purport to alleviate.

Something else is that most people at the end of their lives do not seem as worried about the things you and I think we will be concerned with when our own time comes. “[T]he anxiety-laden problem of, ‘What will happen to me when I die?’ is, after all, like asking ‘What happens to my fist when I open my hand?’ or ‘Where my lap goes when I stand up?’”(2) Questions as sincere as they are unanswerable.

More than the existential dread of non-being or the elusive, “What happens next?”, most often I find people wondering, “Will my loved ones be ok when I’m gone?” Love and death go together both for those who die and for those who remain. Dying opens a liminal space where we experience the tension of not wanting our loved one to suffer at the same time as not wanting them to leave us. This is the painful space of love.

Still, for most people, there comes a point in the dying process where even these questions are silenced. Disease progression and the body shutting down render them no longer relevant. I wonder if this is Nature’s way of freeing us from the clench of conscious analysis into the liberty of simply being and of surrendering to what is; even if what comes next is our own death?

For Spiritual Naturalists, spirit is not something apart from Nature. In fact, the origins of the English word “spirit” have to do with breath. We see this connection in the word “inspiration”. When a new baby is born their first task is in fact a spiritual one: “Breathe!” The child breathes in, and then “Waaaaaaaahhh!” They breathe out with the first cry of life. Breathe in… Breathe out… (who is it that breathes?) and the life-sustaining respiratory (there it is again) process has begun.

Have you ever noticed that inhaling and exhaling always go together? What happens if you only inhale and then hold your breath? Go ahead. Try it. If we cling to the breath, it will not be long before we lose it. Possibly for good.(3) This most basic of spiritual activities: breathing continues from birth on until sometime in the future when there will be one final exhalation with no inhalation to follow. “How did you know he was gone?” “He stopped breathing.”

As much as Western medicine conditions us to fight cancer, heart disease, renal failure, COPD, and dementia as “evil”, these terminal medical diagnoses also invite us back into our bodies and out of our minds. Fluctuating levels of alertness and orientation, breathing, eating and drinking, peeing and pooping, mobility, and skin integrity become the indicators of stability and decline. Could these diseases be Nature’s gift of freedom at the end of our lives? What a mercy.

Ekhart Tolle said, “I have lived with several Zen masters—all of them cats.”(4) I too have spent time with several Zen masters. They are my patients with dementia. This similarity is worth serious, scientific inquiry.

Our journey from birth, through life, and into death is the spiritual/breath journey everyone takes. As an alternative to the death-denying bulwark of much institutional religion, some of us who embark on an intentional spiritual path do so as a practice of letting go on purpose before we do so in death. In other words, a spiritual practice can help us learn—as one old priest said—how “to die before we die.”(5)

Befriending death’s gifts of limitation, of imperfection, and of reality can help us to embrace life and ourselves as we are rather than as we wish we were. Every being is born, lives, and then dies. Then something else is born. The process of death is as natural as birth. It is both a labor and a dance of love.

Love One Person


1) Wendell Berry, Sabbaths 2004, VII, Dee Rice Amyx, 1910-2004, from Given: Poems, Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2005, p. 144.
2) Alan Watts, The Way of Zen, New York: Pantheon, 1957
3) Alan Watts is fond of breath as an example of relationality.
4) Ekhart Tolle, The Power of Now, Novato: New World Library, 2010.
5) See alsohttp://alt-death.com/ where Spiritual Naturalist Society member and contributor, Tony Wolf teaches and facilitates intentional ritual around the theme, memento mori ergo carpe diem (remember death and therefore seize the day). Tony is currently teaching online courses via Morbid Anatomy on the subject of innovations in funeral, memorial and memento mori ritual. To learn more, visit: https://alt-death.com/2022/02/15/the-art-of-ritual-changing-ways-of-life-and-death-april-may-2022/.


by Mary Oliver

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had his hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel
(brave even among lions),
“It is not the weight you carry

but how you carry it—
books, bricks, grief—
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down.”
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled—
roses in the wind,
The sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?

Love One Person

A Sad Day for the Rule of Law

This happened on Friday, June 24, 2022. Here is my synopsis:

SCOTUS Majority: “We hate judicial activism unless we have a super majority and the chance to reverse Roe v. Wade. Let the states sort it out for themselves.”

Thomas: “We got that right, but didn’t go far enough. We should have also reversed Contraceptives, and Gay Marriage too. Actually, just reverse anything protected under that ridiculous notion, ‘Substantive Due Process’.

Kavanaugh: “Let me mansplain this so y’all can be sure and understand. We did what needed to be done today, and we’re all just gonna have to live with it. I don’t think this means anybody will get in trouble for going across state lines if they really need an abortion.—Now, I know we’re not supposed to give opinions on stuff not before the court, but I mean, it shouldn’t be a problem. At least hypothetically.”

Roberts: “We were asked one simple question and could have answered it like we are supposed to—with judicial restraint. But y’all took the bait and drove your neo-con monster 4×4 through 50 years of jurisprudence. Another way was possible.”

Dissenting Minority: 🚩


Gloria Steinem: “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”

Love One Person


by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

– Naomi Shihab Nye, “Kindness,” from Words Under the Words: Selected Poems.

Love One Person