The On Being Project

Reconciling Righteousness and Recalibrating Our Reactions

Our travels to Northern Ireland last summer developed out of a relationship that began nearly a decade ago. A devoted listener from Cork responded to a question we put out into the world about the beauty and challenge of being Catholic. His name was Pádraig. We stayed in touch — a kind word on Facebook or a lyrical tweet, a parcel with his latest book of poetry, essays published on our blog, an invitation to stay in Minneapolis when he visited. Unbeknownst to us at the time, he would become the leader of an extraordinary community whose work impacts so many.

And then an invitation to visit the Corrymeela community came, which resulted in this beautiful conversation. And what a pleasure it’s been! Relationships like these are rare, and an extraordinary journey. The promise of lasting friendship is a gift — and it whispers to each one of us if we open our ear to the wind.

Our Guest Editor of the Week

(Martin Martinsson / Flickr / Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs)

Paul Elie | Transmuting My Righteous Anger Into Understanding
The season of Lent opened for Christians around the world this week. For Paul, Ash Wednesday became an opportunity to recalibrate and interrogate his own feelings:

“So I’ll try to give up anger for Lent. OK, but what might giving up anger mean? Does our anger make us stalwart opponents, principled and committed to a long fight for what is right? Or does it make us prisoners of anger, co-dependents of the angry people we set ourselves against?”

The Best Writing from Our Columnists

Omid Safi | The Two Wings of Intellect and Love

Telling a story about an encounter between the archangel Gabriel and the Prophet Muhammad, Omid calls into question the idea that there is a division between our spiritual being and our rational mind. We must, he implores, nurture and combine both:

“Our beings are like a bird with two wings. We need both wings — the intellectual and the spiritual — to soar. One wing can elevate us to God’s presence. The other — this fierce and radical divine love — gets us to enter into God’s heart. May we soar on both of these wings.”

(Parker Palmer / © All Rights Reserved)

Parker Palmer | Fierce and Tender Work of the Hands
Looking at an old photo of his grandfather, Parker remembers the importance of “the work of the hands” in craft and in nurturing our children into adulthood:

“There is no more important work human hands can do than to hold a child with a fierce tenderness that says, in a way words never can, ‘You are loved, you are safe, you can trust.'”

(Mario Tama / Getty Images / © All Rights Reserved)

Courtney Martin | The Courage to Acknowledge Our Frailty
What are those human truths that you resist acknowledging? Courtney thinks through this question and faces it head on. But then she transmutes it by asking how our fears might be a path to truth-telling and unearthing the unexplored opportunities before us:

“If we had the courage to acknowledge our own frailty, we would relate to our lives and those we love differently. One of the great spiritual challenges of my life is managing my own fear of losing those I love. I sense the ways in which there is a chance to feel the fullness of the miracle of my daughters only by way of acknowledging that their very existence is not promised. It’s the darkest truth I can imagine looking straight in the eye, but it simultaneously helps me see them in technicolor.”

Bonus: watch the TED talk by Kathy Hull, a psychologist who opened the first pediatric palliative respite care center in the United States, embedded in Courtney’s post. An incredible testimony to the spirit of nurturing and love in the darkest times.

What We’re Reading and Listening To
a16z Podcast | Brains, Bodies, Minds … and Techno-Religions
I listen to a lot of podcasts for my work. But this conversation with historian (and undeclared futurist) Yuval Harari blew my mind. The host Sonal Chokshi guides it in fascinating directions with a voice that invites curiosity and wonder. Prepare to be amazed.

1843 Magazine | Things Come Together
Fiametta Rocco provides this marvelous perspective on a third wave of African writers in America who are showing us our country anew. You just might find a few new authors to read!

Backchannel | This Man Makes Founders Cry
There are many types of executive coaches out there. Jerry Colonna is another kind altogether. A lovely profile on a man who is helping our entrepreneurial venture evolve and grow. This quote is vintage Jerry:

“Life sucks and it’s okay. Life is great, and it’s okay. Life goes up and it’s okay; life goes down and it’s okay. If we can instill a sense of resilience in people, we mitigate suffering.”

Becoming Wise Study Guides
We’re excited to offer free study guides to accompany the newly released paperback of Becoming Wise. They include an opening question, discussion starters, and key quotations for each chapter — adaptable for personal introspection or for gathering together a group of people over six weeks or six months!

Ch. 1 — The Age of Us
Ch. 2 — Words: The Poetry of Creatures
Ch. 3 — Flesh: The Body’s Grace
Ch. 4 — Love: A Few Things I’ve Learned
Ch. 5 — Faith: The Evolution
Ch. 6 — Hope: Reimagined

Was this week’s newsletter worth your time? What were your takeaways? Your criticisms? Just let me know. You can reach me at [email protected] or via Twitter. My handle is @trentgilliss.

May the wind always be at your back.

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