Communal Singing at On Being; Dillard and Diving; Parker and Gratitude; Mindfulness and Mindlessness; Krista’s a Trekkie?

Monday, May 12, 2014 - 5:07 pm

Communal Singing at On Being; Dillard and Diving; Parker and Gratitude; Mindfulness and Mindlessness; Krista’s a Trekkie?

Each week I write a weekly column trying to capture and replay a tiny bit of the incredible conversations and efforts taking place behind the scenes at On Being. Sometimes it’s a listener’s response on our Facebook page or a gorgeous photo on Instagram, but it’s often intriguing. If you’d like to receive my column in your email inbox, subscribe to our weekly newsletter!

“Resting in natural great peace.” (Winifred Nimrod)

In this photoquote of the week, Annie Dillard reminds us to ride the monsters down deep:

“In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world’s rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether which buoys the rest, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power for evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other, and for our life together here. This is given. It is not learned.”

The 1956 photo of Ginger Stanley itself is worth the click.

Antarctica (

Sometimes we need reminders (at least I do!) to be grateful for the simple gifts and the “family of things.” Our resident Quaker elder, Parker Palmer, is helping me remember this by posting Mary Oliver’s famous poem.

And, the serene photo that accompanies Parker’s vignette comes by way of a guest contributor, Winifred Nimrod. Just another example of how On Being is a platform for your voices. Have a photo or essay to share. Submit your best work. We take a look at it all: photo essays, commentaries, videos with a personal narrative… you name it.

( AP Image.)

My deepest thanks to all of you who so kindly responded to my question about what I could’ve done better in publishing Jason Anthony’s meditation on East Antarctica. Xavier from Montreal offered this advice:

“My guess is that you didn’t get the attention you’d hoped for for a very simple, perhaps too obvious, reason: timing. After the winter those of us in the Eastern U.S. and in Canada have been through and are just emerging from, why would anyone want to return so soon to the cold and bleak — whatever lessons it might hold for us? Why not try republishing it in August? Or even earlier, if summer proves as extreme as winter was?”

Good advice. Have you got other words of wisdom or ideas for improvement? Send me an email at or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.

Dressed in maroon robes, visitors take part in activities at the Osho ashram in Pune, India.

A few years ago, I read an intriguing article in The Atlantic about how “communal singing” has disappeared from American life… and how we need to reclaim it:

“In these divided times as much as ever, we need to do some singing and feeling together, united as both citizens and amateurs.”

Well, we’re doing something about it. On May 29th, the conductor Tesfa Wondemagegnehu comes to our events space to talk more about the unbeatable joy of singing together and lead us in the art of communal music-making. If a gun-shy singer like me will attend, you have no reason to be scared. It’s free but you must RSVP. Beer and wine will be served.

Commander Data finds his tears.

For the past three years, I’ve been working with Diane Winston’s graduate students at USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism. On a reporting trip to India, Diane required each student to participate in some type of practice while there. Rosalie Murphy’s narrative account of her experience with Osho dynamic mediation and finding comfort in her Roman Catholic faith is worth reading.

(Atul Loke / Panos Pictures for CNN. / )

Krista’s a Trekkie. And so was last week’s guest. Check out this rather fun exchange between the interviewer and interviewee. Bonus: one of Krista’s favorite clips from The Next Generation.

Portrait of Maria Tatar by Jim Harrison

Missed Moni Basu’s smart story about the process of dying in India? Here’s one more chance.

This week’s episode with Maria Tatar is brought to you by the words “wandering” and “perusing” and “noticing.” There’s a great little children’s bookstore in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis called Wild Rumpus. While rummaging through the shelves, I ran across a foreword Ms. Tatar wrote for a book on folklore and mythology. In this essay, she articulated so clearly the power of cultural stories, how they address violence and sex, and how the combination of horror and beauty is intrinsic to them:

“How do you move from boredom to curiosity—how do you animate the child? My answer is: by using the shock value of beauty and horror, administering jolts and shimmers that flip a switch in the mind.”

And her backstory as the daughter of Hungarian emigres makes her personal story all the more compelling.

As I write this letter from the woods, I’m listening to this lovely piece of piano from Schumann’s Waldszenen. A forest scene made visceral with music. (Thanks Mariah!)

Enjoy and may the wind always be at your back.

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is the cofounder of On Being and currently serves as publisher & editor-in-chief. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on “The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi” and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent’s reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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