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The On Being Project

Image By Peter Tandlund/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
Courtney Inspires Parker to Write about the Gift of Wholeness; The Winding Path of Experiencing the Ineffable; Cherishing the Given; john a. powell on Belonging and Otherness; Jean Vanier Wins Big

Courtney Inspires Parker to Write about the Gift of Wholeness; The Winding Path of Experiencing the Ineffable; Cherishing the Given; john a. powell on Belonging and Otherness; Jean Vanier Wins Big

(Chris Ford / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).)

“What I know for sure is this: We come from mystery and we return to mystery.”

Courtney Martin’s columns inspire a wide swath of folks. And one of those people is a 76-year-old man who is awestruck as he “stands on the brink of life.” Inspired by a mother’s observations of her toddler’s awe of the world, Parker reflects on the mystery of the world and the grace of wholeness — delighting in the gift of life as a septuagenarian. Please read and share… you will not be disappointed.

(Peter Tandlund / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).)

Last week I visited USC’s Norman Lear Center in Beverly Hills (call me Trent Clampett). One of the dynamic thinkers I met: its founding director, Marty Kaplan. His winding path of experiencing the ineffable, I think, mirrors many of our journeys — with as many pivots and tacks as straight lines. I offer his compelling essay, “Wrestling with the Questions, and Why It Matters So Much,” in which he finds his course while sitting in a dentist’s chair, realizing that sometimes we just need to show up:

“That’s where I thought I would spend my life: a cultural Jew, a closet nihilist, searching despite myself for something transcendent to fill the hole where God was.”

Garbageman Hans-Dieter Braatz is taking a picture with a large garbage container transformed into a pinhole camera. (Mirko Derpmann / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).)

Sometimes it takes a fire hydrant turning into a geyser to remind us that there is somebody there to fix it. In seeing all of the people around us who make systems and services work, as Courtney Martin reminds us, we begin to understand what it takes to make a community thrive.

We had the great pleasure of welcoming john a. powell to Loring Park as part of The Civil Conversations Project. The house was packed with more than 100 in attendance, which provided an incredible energy on a Tuesday morning… and led to some excellent questions exploring history, race, otherness, and belonging to one another! We live-streamed video of the event, which you can still watch here. A few cherished quotes from Mr. powell:

“In a healthy society, we actually care for each other by being in relationship and sharing each other’s suffering.”

“If you’re not learning in a diverse setting, you’re not being educated.”

“When we contact each other, we change each other. We are constantly making each other.”

“It’s the realization of how to create a culture which is no longer a culture just of competition, but a culture of welcoming, where tenderness, where touch is important, and it’s not — neither sexualized nor aggressive. It has become human. And I think that this is what people with disabilities are teaching us. It’s, it’s something about what it means to be human and to relate and to celebrate life together.”

Jean Vanier. What can I say about this towering man. He is one of the kindest, gentlest, wisest human beings I’ve ever encountered. And his presence when he walks into a room is unmistakeable, and his work moves you to see others and the world around us in ways unimaginable. This week he won the prestigious, lucrative Templeton Prize. If you don’t know him, you must listen to his interview with Krista on the wisdom of tenderness; you just might see why some call him a living saint.

In last week’s newsletter, I made a mistake: The link I used to for Zoë Keating was a one-time only link for a single user session. So, please try this: To contribute, visit her page and click on the Donate button under the “Loss” entry near the top of the page to to help her during this impossible time.

My email address is [email protected]. My Twitter handle: @trentgilliss. Contact me anytime!

May the wind be at your back.


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