Edit this post

The On Being Project

From Game of Thrones to Syrian Refugees: Finding The Courage To Be Whole and the Community To Listen

Champagne corks popped on Thursday after we received the news that Becoming Wise, Krista’s new book, is now a New York Times bestseller! Also in the NYT, Anand Giridharadas asks Krista in his Letter from America, “how America might heal after a political season marked by unusually intense levels of fear and anger, uncertainty, and pain?” Well worth clicking through to read her response.

Courage is born of struggle:

“The most beautiful things I look back on in my life are coming out from underneath things I didn’t know I could get out from underneath. The moments I look back in my life and think, ‘God, those are the moments that made me,’ were moments of struggle.”

Brené Brown is the first guest of our new podcast, Becoming Wise (subscribe on iTunes). It’s the value and power of adversity, she says, that fuels us to give rise to the astonishing strength of which we are all capable.

(Andreas Bloch / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

Parker Palmer tapped into something deep and profound with his column on the perils of advice, even if well-intentioned. The true gift, he points out, isn’t helpful instruction but quiet, unobtrusive presence:

“The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard, and companioned exactly as it is.”

The facade of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway (Global Crop Diversity Trust / )

“If you had access to a vault that could preserve something so precious that you hoped it might survive the destructive forces of modern society — politics, war, capitalism — to be enjoyed by your grandchildren’s grandchildren, what would you put there?”

Columnist Sarah Smarsh shines a light on the stewards preserving earth’s biodiversity from a mountainous vault in Norway.

(Martina K / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

“Teach me that you live not only in the open field, / the birds singing at first dawn, / but also in the concrete parking lot”

Nadia Colburn submitted these two pieces of poesy through our guest submissions form. And I’m so glad she did. For those who seek to infuse daily life with thoughtful prayer and attention, these poems may be just what you needed.

(Basheer Tome / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

Did you know we have an On Being Fellowship? Our first fellow, Aseel Zahran, is focused on The Civil Conversations Project, so I encouraged her to write for us, share her perspectives during this learning process. She reveals a bit about herself, her conversations on the margins, and her vision for safe spaces that lead to more generous exchanges. And she asks:

“I know now that we will not arrive at a unified universal truth. That’s not the point. The question is: How do we deal with the complexity and uncertainty of our time? How do we sit with it without passing moral judgments and letting fear overtake our sense of being?”

(Pablo Monforte / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

“’May I see what I do. May I do it differently. May I make this a way of life.’ The whole country needs a prayer like that right now.”

The blame game often results in an extended index finger pointed away from ourselves. But, as Courtney Martin points out, we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. She spurs us to think differently, to reimagine the capacity already within us to rehabilitate the American dream.

(Benedicto de Jesus / Flickr / Some Rights Reserved)

“Community is not merely a gathering of individuals coming together. Community is an almost alchemical reaction that happens among all that we are capable of being and becoming.”

We are social creatures, shaped by our relationships and sense of belonging to one another. And it’s that power of connectedness, Omid Safi says, that allows us to magnify the good in ourselves and in our neighbors. Community is here and now.

(IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation / )

“I have found silence to be medicine. I require a lot of silence to balance the chaos of that clinic in the slum.”

The rigors of medical school and practice weigh heavily on the inner lives of healthcare practitioners. Joyce Hooley, a pediatric physician, chronicles her journey with medicine and the challenge of compassion fatigue.

Four (or five) things worth reading or watching if you have a few extra moments:

  • Game of Thrones and the Paradox of Female Beauty. HBO’s sensational series ended with a massive reveal about Melisandre. Matthew Dessem gave this awesome breakdown of the camera action chosen for the final scenes, but it was Megan Garber’s intriguing take on ageism and the contorted perspectives on female beauty that takes root, ending with this line: “the show that has reveled in all manner of boundary-pushing imagery, from the violent to the sexual, found a new way to shock its viewers: to present them with woman who is at once naked and old.”
  • Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. Carl Rovelli has written a marvelously accessible book unpacking the basics of modern physics and the untidy bits yet to be pulled together and understood. What makes this remarkably thin volume most interesting? How he traces the idea of “self” as it intersects with physics.
  • How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk. This profile by Mark Landler does what I wish more pieces about political candidates would do: provide deep background and context for the positions they take and why they take them.
  • Children of Syria. My two young boys and I watched this riveting hour from PBS’ Frontline. The documentary features four Syrian children and traces their mother’s decision to leave war-torn Aleppo, their journey as refugees, and their new life and new home in central Germany. So much wisdom and resilience of the human spirit: “Anything new must be built on ruins.”
  • Thanks so much for reading. Until next week, please feel free to contact me with any advice, criticism, feedback at [email protected], or via Twitter at @trentgilliss.
    May the wind always be at your back.

    Share Your Reflection