The poets, along with the prophets, urge us to breathe, really breathe. For it is only in breathing and being aware of our breaths, that we become truly mindful of our bodies and the bodies of all those around us. We know we are alive through that mutual breath. We know the others are too. Being alive together, breathing the same air unites us, as nothing else does. And if we all share the same breath, do we not all share the same life?
The Lens of Pessimism-A Meditation for Lent, Day 37
Things are not getting worse, Armageddon is not just around the corner and the world is not about to get really, really, horrible. We need new lenses to see the facts of life: things are not perfect, not by a long shot, but they are better than they have ever been. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Tell them to get new lenses.
American Gods-A Meditation for Lent, Day 36
The images of the American Gods project the opposite of what the prophets (Jesus included) urged: doing justice, loving mercy, walking humbly. But they are our Gods, and we will go down to the dust singing their praise.
Enemies-A Meditation for Lent, Day 34
There are now two prevailing sets of ideas pushing against each other in the Nation of the Idea, two narratives competing for the American soul. Unless we come to understand why each side feels aggrieved by the other, unless we are willing to approach the enemies in our own household with honesty, humility and compassion, the American idea will not endure.
Not Apologizing-A Meditation for Lent, Day 31
Real apologies require real change by the offending party. And they don't include disclaimers. We haven’t changed the way we treat the Native People of this continent, and so we have nullified the apology. I’m sure the Standing Rock Sioux and all the other Native People were not surprised, considering how long they've known us. It’s who we are, we who apologize through the clenched teeth of war-making.
Balance-A Meditation for Lent, Day 30
Seven years ago, she was homeless, addicted and lost. But she found one of those programs that is so out of fashion these days, and they helped her get sober and get a job. It’s not a great job: she starts her workday at 5:00 AM, makes the minimum wage, and she works really hard. There’s no extra money, and her idea of a great day is sitting at home, curled up on the couch, reading.
Living Forever-A Meditation for Lent, Day 29
The convenient thing about religious afterlives is that no one can prove whether or not they exist, since you have to die to find out. So, in spite of the weird little cults like the one I grew up in, or the Transhumanist Church of Eternal Life (which is of course, in Florida, the universal epicenter of old, dying people and weirdness itself), eternal life is entirely subjective. Unless you’re a jellyfish.
Apostates and Heretics-A Meditation for Lent, Day 28
Without apostasy, Christianity would never have had a St. Paul, who was an apostate Jew. Without heresy, Christianity never would have had a Martin Luther, a John Calvin or a Michael Servetus.
Dirt-A Meditation for Lent, Day 27
We think dirt is something to get rid of, to wash off, and to be honest, to be a little ashamed of having on our hands. We call this place we live “Earth,” with not a trace of irony. But we forget what earth is. It’s just dirt. God’s own dirt. And we don’t work it at all.
Fathers and Daughters-A Meditation for Lent, Day 25
Mothers kiss their sons goodbye, knowing from the moment they first hold them to their breast that one day they will be gone. A father, on the other hand, believes that his daughter will always love him first, no matter whom else she loves. He is certain that his little girl, who long ago grew to be a woman, and whom he loves more deeply than any creature he has ever beheld, will always, always, love him the way he loves her. There could be no more perfect love than the love of a father for this woman who is bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh.