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The On Being Project

Image By John Cary
Mother’s Day Reflections, New and Old; Living in the Layers; Ritual as Poetry in Action; Rio Passes; Metaphors of Mirrors and Mirroring

Mother’s Day Reflections, New and Old; Living in the Layers; Ritual as Poetry in Action; Rio Passes; Metaphors of Mirrors and Mirroring

“In those early days I asked myself: will I ever feel like myself again? The answer, it turns out, is no. In the most universal and specific way possible — no.”

Becoming a mother can be a startling experience — a belonging to a communion of mothers AND the stark reality that one’s identity will never be the same again. For this upcoming Mother’s Day, Courtney Martin on the unforeseen gifts and the myopic lens of motherhood.

The author’s grandmother Anna Sorocer when she emigrated from Rumania to the U.S. (Esther Cohen / © All Rights Reserved)

What unites us all is that we all have mothers. Poet Esther Cohen (whom you may remember from our Postcards from Passover series) traces the path of her life through her Rumanian grandmother, Anna, and the women who followed: “Grandmothers, Mothers, Me.”

The Grand Canyon. (Umberto De Peppo Cocco / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).)

“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”

I love these lines from the great poet Stanley Kunitz. And I think they serve as an apt, gentle transition into Parker Palmer’s column on embracing all the layers of your life — as he sees it through the majestic, geological lens of the Grand Canyon.

A Jewish boy celebrates his bar mitzvah at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. (Yonatan Sindel / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).)

Parker and his wife Sharon speak of their many journeys down the Grand Canyon, near as I can tell, in terms of ritual. And I think of this line from Rabbi Dennis Ross:

“Ritual does for behavior what poetry does for words.”

When the hope of youthful enthusiasm turns grim and gray and the spiritual challenge of uncertainty beckons, he finds hope in ritual as poetry in action, recognizing the spirituality in the routine, recapturing the sacred in the mundane, and rediscovering beauty in the ordinary.

A woman stares at a Jackson Pollock painting. (Luis Reina / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).)

I chose this photo of a woman looking at a Jackson Pollock painting for Sharon Salzberg’s recent column on delusion as a hindrance to insight. Mary, from Birmingham, asked if I was making a statement about the artist himself. I wasn’t. Photo editing is a tricky business; if you ever have any questions or doubts about my choices, please reach out to me. I would thoroughly enjoy the chance to discuss! My email is [email protected], and my Twitter handle is @trentgilliss.

Castle Valley, Utah (Terry Tempest Williams)

An update. If you recall in last week’s post, Terry Tempest Williams’ dog Rio found new life while roaming the countryside. He passed away and, as Terry writes, was “buried beneath the full moon.”

Broken Mirror/Evening Sky (Agfacolor), 2012, Archival Inkjet Print, 70-3/4 x 56-5/8 inches (Bing Wright)

“Somewhere in us
there is
a healing.”

Metaphors of light and reflection abound. But what about the metaphors of mirror and mirroring. Omid Safi holds that image with palms up and open.

May the wind always be at your back.

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