Life Is Abundant, Enduring, and Incredibly Resilient in the Face of It All
We’ve added a new member to the On Being family…
Stella Parker Martin Cary is the beautiful new daughter of our beloved columnist Courtney Martin and John Cary, who you may have heard on our new podcast, Creating our Own Lives. Oh, and you might note her middle name — given in honor of another one of our columnists, the sage Parker Palmer! Speaking of Parker, he’s written two popular columns that have deeply touched folks this past week…
The first commentary is an invocation, of sorts. He asks us to look to the open spaces around us, to appreciate the resilience of nature and, in doing so, be open to new possibilities:
“Keep the doors of your heart open and you can say, with gratitude — ‘Every morning, so far, I’m alive…'”
And, in the second, he calls on one of the ultimate observers of nature, poet Mary Oliver. Here, Parker offers up a remedy for feeling adrift — by embracing surprise and discarding one’s skepticism of mystery.
“You do not have to be good. / You do not have to walk on your knees / for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. / You only have to let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves.”
Mary Oliver’s poem has to be one of the most cited pieces of verse in America today. And, at this time in our political life, it might do us all some good to listen to her lovely recitation of her poem — and the story of how it came into being!
“Uncle Vincent,” as many of his friends called him, had the warmest smile and a most calming demeanor. But he also had a ferocious spirit that challenged the powers that be. Digging into our archives, I’d like to share his essay examining the spiritual sensibilities of two civil rights legends: Howard Thurman and Martin Luther King, Jr.:
“Here are men who at no point in their life would ever deny the terrors of what it was in those days to be black in America. At no point in their life would they deny the terrorism of so much of being white in America; at the same time they would never deny the oneness of all. That’s a tough spirituality. That’s not any kind of sweet-by-and-by spirituality. That’s a spirituality that takes on the world as it is and says, ‘I’m gonna figure this out one way or another.’ The mystic and the Moses.”
“There’s something magnetic about a group of people that say, ‘Hey, we don’t have it all figured out, and we need each other.’”
There’s a groundswell of interest in living in community in creative, fresh ways — and in bridging the gap between the privileged structures in which some were raised and the human needs all around us. In this episode from the Becoming Wise podcast, Shane Claiborne talks about a new kind of monasticism, his encounter with Mother Teresa, and repairing our individual and collective brokenness.
The Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland is one of the places that has been reimagining what it means to be in relationship with one another now for over 50 years. We recently visited their gorgeous retreat center to record a series of interviews with celebrated poet Michael Longley (watch), theologian Siobhán Garrigan, and poet-theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama (watch):
“We wake and take this troubled beauty forward.”
Thankfully, creative strategist Maíra Rahme attended the Corrymeela leader’s interview and created these beautiful visual notes. Looking forward to producing these interviews for the fall!
Caroline Yang’s photos are pure poetry. She captures the balletics of sport with a harmonious intimacy rarely witnessed from the outside. I think it’s because she engages with a boxing gym or a ballet company or a bicycling event for years at a time, not just days. And lately she’s been directing her eye to those deeply human moments on the streets, which rarely make the front pages. Definitely an artist worth following.
I’ll leave you with this thought from Kevin Carey’s feature for Wired magazine, which offers a thoroughly captivating look into NASA’s Office of Planetary Protection and safeguarding other planets (particularly Mars) from ravenous microbes that might get in the way of learning about a “second Genesis”:
“Complex life is delicate and rare. But most life is simple, abundant, and incredibly strong.”
As always, thank you for the kind and generous feedback. I welcome your criticism and advice in addition to your gracious comments. Please feel free to contact me or anyone on our team with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Facebook or Twitter.
May the wind always be at your back.