The questions of who matters and what’s really important run through each entry in this week’s newsletter. For some folks, it’s requiring ourselves to look beyond accepted norms of love, or to see a gift in tragic loss. For others, it’s finding new ways of reconnecting with age-old traditions, or questioning moral authority when it comes at the sacrifice of another.
My hope is that you’ll choose one article that speaks to you, and take it in deeply. And, then, if you’d be so kind, share it with someone you care about.
A Word from Our Columnists
Sharon Salzberg | Love Doesn’t Make Us Stupid, It Makes Us Brave
The incomparable Buddhist teacher sees pathways most of us just can’t. Sharon’s column is a countervailing response to a culture that makes it too easy to be cynical:
“We don’t have to limit our notion of love to romance. We can challenge our conditioning that tells us that loving someone also mandates our liking them and wanting to spend time with them. We can remember that, as the Buddha taught, love is the antidote to fear, not the countervailing force to wisdom. Love doesn’t make us stupid; it makes us brave.”
Courtney Martin | The Gifts We Give, The Gifts We Are
“And then, just moments after doing a yoga class side by side, he had a sudden heart attack and died. Katie had to reschedule the tent they had rented for the wedding to be used for her person’s funeral.”
In a few months I will have been married to the most marvelous person for 20 years. So when Courtney passed on this tragic story of her dear friend’s loss, I asked her to share it, provide some framing, and reflect on the phrase “cruel gift.” What do you think?
Parker Palmer | Walt Whitman’s Advice for a Kind and Authentic Life
“I love the grounded quality of Whitman’s counsel. In it, I find a powerful antidote to our tendency to get distracted by bling, to lust after shiny things, to bow down to false authority and lose our souls in the process.”
Parker summons the great American poet’s preface to Leaves of Grass as a way to focus on living a life of generosity and integrity. But, true to form, Parker also seizes on a touch of healthy rebelliousness, too!
Omid Safi | Our Bodies Are Means By Which We Live Out Our Faith
Omid has diabetes and cannot participate in ritual fasting during Ramadan. He shares how it’s affected the rhythms of this holy month for him, and how he participates in alternative forms of fasting instead:
“Some of my Muslim friends joked with me, ‘Omid, you’re so lucky. You don’t need to fast.’ Little did they know how much I miss fasting. I miss getting up for meals before sunrise, seeing my body as a means by which I live out my faith, and taking part in the communal breaking of the fast. I do ‘break fast’ with some friends, but I know that the hunger and thirst they have experienced is one that I have not. Yes, I do feel like I am missing out on something, on the communal and embodied experience of the fast.”
Recommended Reads from Other Outlets
Quanta Magazine | A Mind Made Out of Silk
Extended cognition. Embodied cognition. A mind outside the head? I’ve been turning these ideas over and over in my mind after reading this delicious piece by Joshua Sokol. (h/t Teri Schindler)
Literary Hub | The Loneliness of Donald Trump
When one past guest (Rebecca Solnit) of On Being references the interview of another guest (Lyndsey Stonebridge), our hearts delight. It’s all about connections.
Thrive Global | Krista Tippett On Wisdom, Work, And Why So Many People Are Spiritual, But Not Religious
The title pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?
“There’s something special about wisdom that’s been accumulated with a lot of life experience, but everybody doesn’t grow wise — some people just grow old.”
Public Theology Reimagined
Christena Cleveland | True Connection Requires Our Bodies and Our Minds
Building deep relationships with those outside our cultural comfort zones can be a challenge. Christena’s special commentary for our Public Theology Reimagined initiative encourages each one of us to seek out mutual dependence — with our bodies and our minds:
“Social psychologists have discovered that when we become close friends with people, we literally expand our sense of self to include them in it. As a result, we naturally incorporate their perspective into our perspective, their resources become our resources (and vice versa), their failures become our failures, and we take up their causes as if they were our own causes. In short, we identify with them and are changed as a result of relationship with them.”
Broderick Greer | Frail Bodies Are a Witness to Resilience and Resurrection
“‘This is what happened to me’ may be one of the most singularly powerful lines a person can utter.”
Our friend from Memphis writes a rigorous piece on the threat of moral authority when it lords over others bodies — and how solidarity can lead to resurrection.
New from On Being Studios
Need some quality binge listening for your summer road trip? Or your daily commute? We just released the entire second season of our podcast Creating Our Own Lives with you in mind. There are several ways to listen: on our website, via Apple Podcasts or RadioPublic, or through the podcasting app of your choice.
May the wind always be at your back,