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The On Being Project

Image By Emanuele Toscano/Flickr
Each Encounter Is a Gift of Relationship

Each Encounter Is a Gift of Relationship

In the hurly-burly of life, the gift of encounter is one we often don’t cherish enough. Every interaction is an opportunity for relationship, even during the job interview process.

(Beck Tench / Medium © All Rights Reserved.)

Recently, the talented and creative Beck Tench sent these heartening words in an email:

“How interesting that Camus could write about Sisyphus and I could write about Mario and we are all somehow in concert, sharing a truth that I wouldn’t have known without applying for a job I didn’t get?”

Beck also sent a hyperlink to a lovely post on weight loss, suffering, and knowing there’s no end and thriving:

“I now picture Sisyphus happily pushing the rock and Mario content to play princess-less. I embrace the distractions in my pantry, the reflection of my waistline in the mirror each morning, and being torn, forever, by them. It means my fate belongs to me.”

A paintball explodes during a field battle. (Mustafa Khayat / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

And those encounters continue in the form of guest contributions we published this past week:

“We must deal with the guns, but we must also deal with the tendencies of our own hearts to trust in violence. Perhaps, if we do that work, our guns can mean something besides a belief in violence.”

Growing up with firearms provides life-long lessons on responsibility and discipline for many families. A marvelous piece of writing by Jackson Culpepper, a man born and raised in a Southern hunting family, in which he reckons with the heritage of guns in his life and our our deeply held tendencies to trust in violence. Please read and share with others.

A woman prays at The Stone of the Anointing inside The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. (Jon Bush / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

“Our salvation depends on one another. We can’t even enter the gates of our sacred sites alone, let alone the gates of heaven. We can choose to see this as a tragic mistake or a generous, joyful invitation.”

When we encounter the stranger, a deepening exchange takes place. Through the metaphor of marriage and her own personal vows, Claire Dietrich Ranna, an Episcopal priest in San Francisco, calls for a return to unity and the remembrance of the shared history and values that bind Christians and Muslims together.

(Adam Freidin / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

“Humility plus chutzpah equals the kind of citizens democracy needs, and there is no reason — at least no good reason — why our number cannot be legion.”

We’re trained to demonize and combat those who disagree with us. But what if we cultivated better habits that didn’t unravel the fabric of our civic community? Parker Palmer on developing five habits of the heart that will lead to a better democracy.

(Jordi Boixareu / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved.)

“What are the three words you would like people to use to describe you when you’re not in the room?”

Others see us in ways that we may not imagine, or even cotton to, non? Our columnist Courtney Martin reflects on our inescapable selves and the complicated work of asserting our identity, which often means embracing the parts we’d like to shed with pride.

In August 1942, black laborers carry and lay railroad ties for a spur line into a coal storage space for the federal government. (Howard Liberman / Library of Congress / Public Domain Work.)

“My daddy and his brothers were tough, prideful men who worked hard to provide for their families, driven by their unrelenting belief that things would be better for their children than it had been for them. Henry Mask, my dad, left our home each day, with a purpose: to make certain that I could go as far as possible, farther than he could imagine.”

Fleda Mask Jackson sent us this terrific ode to her late father, a man who belonged to a brotherhood of African-American railroad workers who worked hard and provided. The prompt? The title song to Sting’s Broadway play, “The Last Ship Sails.”

And, yes, we’re still looking for a full-stack web developer to help us improve current systems and build a new infrastructure. Please spread the word!

I wish you much warmth and joy during these cold days of February. As always, I welcome your critical feedback, both positive and negative. Contact me at [email protected], or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.

May the wind always be at your back.

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