Leonard Cohen Rings True; Ami Vitale Shows You the World; Northern Spark Tonight; The Courage of Small Offerings; The Memory of a Daughter Caught Waiting

Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 4:50 am

Leonard Cohen Rings True; Ami Vitale Shows You the World; Northern Spark Tonight; The Courage of Small Offerings; The Memory of a Daughter Caught Waiting

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!

A woman, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease looks at an picture of herself while living in a retirement house in eastern France. (Sebastien Bozon /AFP/Getty Images.)

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There’s a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

These Leonard Cohen lyrics came at a desperate time. I was reading the news about the young student who was killed in Oregon, and feeling pretty helpless. As a father of two young boys in elementary school, these news stories are terrifying. But, it was Parker’s column this week that offered perspective on the courage of small offerings — and the immense amount of love of people, as captured in this photo of folks holding vigil in Troutdale for Emilio Hoffman.

Dr. BJ Miller sits on a patients bed at the Zen Hospice Project. Miller lost three of his limbs in his youth, an experience which lead him to a medical career. (Brant Ward / The Chronicle)

Unsolicited guest submissions are the lifeblood of our blog. It’s been my great joy to give readers access to these writers, and a place for folks to share their narratives and perspectives. Well, I can think of no better representation of this ethos than Gloria Jean Bubba’s essay, “No Mourning, No Pieta, No Tears.” She’s makes herself vulnerable by admitting her frustration with her mother’s deterioration from Alzheimer’s disease. And, through the Christian story of Gethsemane, she finds an uncomfortable solace — and a rebuke.

Julie Rawe does Your Audio Selfie

Thankfully, perspective comes in many forms. BJ Miller, the new executive director of the Zen Hospice Project at the UCSF Medical Center, reminds us:

“Being a full human has a lot to do with suffering.”

A man who lost three of his limbs in a haphazard accident, this doctor’s story is one to be read and admired. He offers unique insights into the human condition and the field of palliative care, and I’m glad he’s on our radar.

Last Saturday was Northern Spark! The Your Audio Selfie booth was set up for its inaugural launch. And our newest intern, Julie Rawe, got things rolling…

(Ami Vitale )

And Ragamala Dance was in the house. They crafted an interactive experience, “Honoring Tagore: Sacred Earth,” not to be missed. Hundreds of people stopped by Loring Park and ventured about. It was a lot of fun, and the whole crew made it to the end at 5:30 in the morning!

We were wearing the new On Being t-shirt, which our first official volunteer, Chris Rackley (
“https://twitter.com/rackleystudio”>@rackleystudio), graciously agreed to model. They’re a lot of fun, with a playful paraphrase of Reinhold Niebuhr on the back:

I am my own most vexing problem.

Stop by and be one of the first to get this beauty!

(Ami Vitale )

There is so much magnificence in the world. Ami Vitale is a photojournalist I often turn to for guidance in this exploration. Check out her Instagram. There’s something about the quality of her images and the range of her subject matter that speaks to this quiet human drama in a most intimate way — whether it’s people playing chess in the baths of Budapest…

(Ami Vitale )

Or relatives of a Kashmiri woman mourning her body…

(Ami Vitale )

Or women standing in an ancient step well in Rajasthan, India…

Or horses on a conservation-friendly ranch in southern Montana. It’s a privilege to be able to partake in the world she sees. You should too.

And, from our Tumblr, some edifying words for all you aspiring writers and readers from the newly named U.S. Poet Laureate, Charles Wright:

“You don’t want to write out of habit, you want to write out of necessity.”

Please, remember. You can always reach me by email at tgilliss@onbeing.org or via Twitter at @trentgilliss. Advice, criticism, pitches, leads. I’m open to all of your feedback.
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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