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The On Being Project

Image By U.S. Marine Corps/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0).
On Hanging by a Thread and Shared Silence; Buddha’s Teachings on Volition; Fostering Grit; Which Direction to Turn; NZ Gang Portraits and Dappled Things…

On Hanging by a Thread and Shared Silence; Buddha’s Teachings on Volition; Fostering Grit; Which Direction to Turn; NZ Gang Portraits and Dappled Things…

Our platform is a space for all voices to be heard. I’d like to highlight two guest contributors who’ve added something special to the conversation this week: Andréana E. Lefton and Elizabeth Aquino:

The author, Elizabeth Aquino with her daughter Sophie in their backyard. (Emily Berl / National Geographic.)

“Contrary to what some might say, we’re not given what we can handle. We’re opening to handle what we’re given.”

Rather than grieve for the loss of “normalcy,” a mother of a child with refractory seizure disorder chooses to exult in her daughter being exactly the way she is. Weaving in the Four Noble Truths, Elizabeth Aquino marvels at the gifts of intimacy, false notions of power and control, and the hope and humor that follows.

(Christine Mahler / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).)

A small-town Quaker meeting inspires a meditation by Andréana E. Lefton on collective human silence, and the communion that brings points of orientation in a disorienting world:

“That’s what our shared silence says to the train and the drought and depression and cancer, and maybe even, to life itself: We are here. We are doing the work. This is difficult. This is beauty.”

Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer or a producer, take a chance and share your work with us and our community.

(aul McGeiver / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).)

The Buddha’s teachings on volition, Sharon Salzberg writes, point us to the crucial importance of our own intentions, the responsibility in our actions, and therefore for our own freedom:

“The moral quality of an action is held in the intention that gives rise to the action.”

Seven to nine year olds discover mathematical patterns found in sunflowers, pine cones, and throughout nature while learning about a famous mathematician and exploring the Enchanted Garden at the Howard County Library System Miller Branch. (Howard County Library System / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).)

“So maybe one of the problems is not an absence of grit, but the stubbornness with which we cling to our first impressions of our own gifts (or lack thereof).”

How can we encourage our children (and ourselves) to work hard at mastering skills that evade us? Courtney Martin on fostering grit and resilience in our children and ourselves — and still having fun!

Muslim pilgrims reach out to touch the door of the Ka’ba inside Mecca’s Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest shrine, during their off season pilgrimage, known as Umra. (Hassan Ammar / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images.)

Apparently a blog post showing photographs of the interior of the Ka’ba in Mecca went viral. In classic Omid Safi fashion, he uses it as an opportunity to think outside of the box — or should I say inside of it…

“What if we were inside the Ka‘ba? Which way would we face? In which direction would we pray? Do we line up to the East? The West? North? South?”

(Jono Rotman / Vice Magazine.)


I’m still reading David Brooks’ The Road to Character and Jonathan Kozol’s The Theft of Memory (I wish I were as fast a reader as Krista!). Here are a few other media morsels worth savoring:


(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images.)

While looking for a photo to accompany Parker’s column this week, I experienced this beautiful image by Justin Sullivan. With the bleakness of the drought in California, abundance and color remain.

Instead I chose this NASA image… of the blooms in the Sea of Marmara:

The Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of a phytoplankton bloom in the Sea of Marmara on May 17, 2015. The swirling shapes on the water are phytoplankton, with the yellow-green and red-purple filaments likely (but not necessarily) representing different species. Those wavy colored lines not only show where the densest concentrations of plankton are floating, but also reveal the eddies and currents within the small sea. (NASA Earth Observatory / NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.)

I thought it a lovely companion to Parker Palmer’s reflection on the beauty of dappled things, as taken from the opening line from this poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

Until next week, I bid you many good fortunes. Your feedback is always appreciated. Reach out to me at [email protected] or by Twitter, @trentgilliss.

May the wind always be at your back.


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