Uncategorized

Moving Beyond the Margins of Ourselves

Things feel turbulent when reading the news, the world seeming to fall into halves. It’s difficult to feel wholeness is possible when the vision repeatedly reinforced is that we’re either in one world or are placed entirely in the opposite. “A dreadful oblivion prevails in the world. The world has forgotten what it means to be human. The gap is widening, the abyss is within the self,” writes Abraham Joshua Heschel, in On Prayer. A world of interconnected wholeness seems a faraway paradise that can’t be found, and what lies ahead is unclear. People who were once friends now decide they can no longer communicate. Often, people who once found value in religious or spiritual engagement, now eschew it. Republican, democrat–these terms mean something now they didn’t twenty, fifty or a hundred years ago. Self sorting according to race, gender, region, religion is happening everywhere. Divisions abound and finding common ground allowing us to meet and greet each other is challenging.

In her February 6 conversation with Ezra Klein about his new book, Why We Are Polarized on Krista Tippett’s podcast site, On Being, Klein suggests that if we are going to move beyond the dividedness we currently experience in the US, it would benefit us to activate different parts of ourselves to call forth our other alternative identities. There are many selves within the self we currently walk around in. We are not simply and totally one thing or the other. We are complex. Certainly, the self we were as a child is different than the self we are at thirty or at sixty years old. We may think of ourselves in a certain way, stories we’ve told ourselves about who we are for many years, something, perhaps, like I can’t draw, I’m shy, I’m not adventurous, or other statements. There are other selves we can call up and nurture, and in doing so we can grow into telling new stories about ourselves that enable us to move beyond old boundaries we’ve assigned ourselves to.

sculpture by Jane DeDecker

Social connection is a fundamental need for humans. Douglas Abram’s in The Book of Joy, Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, states, “The latest brain scan research suggests that we have a rather binary understanding of self and other, and that our empathy circuits do not activate unless we see the other person as part of our own group. Often, when disasters happen, people pull together, helping others, unconcerned about things that might otherwise separate and isolate them. Similarly, when people share a creative activity, people who may be different from each other in other ways feel connected with each other. To find ourselves in others who we name as different from ourselves, we need to see with new eyes, listen to with new ears.

In his book, The Way Home, Len Anderson writes in his poem, “Who is that Singing?”

Before there were words
there was song. Have you ever noticed
what a good listener God is?
To sing, you must listen for the song.

We can’t hear the story, the song or prayer in others’ lives if we aren’t listening for it. If we listen for only what we want to hear, how do we ever become larger? Later in the poem, Anderson goes on to say,

We may wonder about the beginning of time
but at any moment we are still
the beginning of ourselves.

What a wonderful statement of awareness! There is always the possibility of beginning, of becoming new. How to find the song that will open our heart and the hearts of others who are longing for gentleness, relief and renewal may not be clear, but beginning to sing is a kind of restoration. As Heschel writes in On Prayer, “The irreconcilable opposites which agonize human existence are the outcry, the prayer. Every one of us is a cantor; everyone of us is called to intone a song, to put into prayer the anguish of all.”

Lately, I’ve been working in the garden, weeding, removing dead tomato vines, pruning the asparagus. Like work done in a garden, what we tend to and nurture over time grows and thrives. When considering how to see ourselves in others in order to find and build on our common humanity, we can work to trim, weed and water our thoughts and reactions, aiming to go a layer deeper than our initial reaction as we look for threads of our common humanity. As Abraham Joshua Heschel has said, “Prayer begins at the edge of emptiness.” Many have a feeling of emptiness in their hearts these days, and perhaps this is a place to start. “Prayer may not save us,” writes Heschel, in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity. “But prayer may make us worthy of being saved.”

To change a world or a nation is a grand goal. But we can begin with ourselves. In our thoughts, actions and reactions, we can practicing see ourselves in others different from our definition of those who belong in our group. We will be heading into new waters, but this is the way people have always grown–through expanding their interactions with new places, people, and ideas, and with those who hold a world of understanding are different from their own. As Rilke wrote in Letters to a Young Poet, “once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole and against a wide sky!”

 

poetry, Uncategorized

Poetic Truth in a Post-Truth World

On the parkbench sleeps a tiger
With a very tall old lady
In his lap; she is so tall
(And so noisy) that her knees
Have attracted a pair of screechowls
To form on them a nest that sways.

–from Kenneth Patchen’s poem, “On the Parkbench”

This boisterous, fanciful scene from Patchen’s poem awakens the physical senses, describes the unbelievable, and invites us into a world of imaginative play we can delight in.

A while back I visited the Sherlock Holmes museum here on Baker St. in London. Since I received the book, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes as a gift from my brother when I was in fifth grade, I’ve been an admirer of Sherlock’s keen ability to observe closely, to see the relevant details in a situation others passed over, and to draw conclusions from them. “The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes,” Holmes states in The Hound of the Baskervilles. Doyle’s Holmes had a wonderful ability to pull together a wide array of details, imagine himself into the scene, and to find the truth of the story that rested beneath the details that others pass over. What struck me as particularly interesting when I visited the museum, however, was how the docents would tell you in all seriousness as you entered a room in the house, “This is where Sherlock slept,” and “This is where Sherlock sat, “as if Sherlock were actually a living person. While here in London, I’ve visited Handle’s, Jimi Hendrix’s, Samuel Johnson’s, Thomas Carlyle’s, and Leighton Ford’s houses where you can read about their lives and see their work. These were, indeed, real people who actually did sit in specific chairs or slept in the beds in the house. Hendrix, for example, is said to have spent a lot of his time writing while in bed. Holmes, on the other hand, though he was concerned about truth, is still a fictional character–even if he seems vividly alive in our imagination. “Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth,” Holmes stated in The Sign of Four. This is why, even though I realize that the Sherlock Holmes museum is a tourist spot and is appealing to people’s need for a touch stone for this well-loved character, it struck me as odd to hear information given out about Holmes as if he had lived, and it made me wonder about the fiction’s role in our lives.

Unlike at the Sherlock Holmes Museum, at the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studio here in the UK, those who love J.K. Rowling’s books can go to the studio and experience how artists and set makers have turned the fictional scenes of the novel into tangible realities for the movies. You can see the Hogwarts’ castle bathed in dramatic light, step inside Dumbledore’s study, and observe see for yourself the golden snitch made for the game of Quidditch. This is invented reality. We know it, but like all good literature, the imaginative story in the Potter books holds life lessons we can learn from–the value of friendship, staying true to yourself to name but two.

Fiction offers truths that enable us to reflect on who we are and how we are living. Ralph Elison wrote, “Good fiction is made of what is real, and reality is difficult to come by,” a statement which seems quite relevant for our current social context. Susan B. Glasser, in her article in Politico Magazine, “Covering Politics in Post-Truth America,” mentions how, “a few days after the election the Oxford Dictionaries announced that post-truth has been announced as the 2016 word of the year, defining it as a condition in which ‘objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.'” Facts are essential to our lives, and they are particularly important to poetry. Poets rely on facts to tell their truths. One of the great purposes of literature is to enable us to see truths about ourselves that we can’t see by simply reading the news. Poetry uses the literal realities of the world to aim at larger truths about the human condition. If you read Gerald Stern, for example, in his poem, “The Dancing,” you are brought through the facts of the poem into post World War Two as he describes his father in his family’s tiny apartment on Beechwood Boulevard,

his left hand under his armpit, doing the dance
of old Ukraine, the sound of his skin half drum,
half fart, the world at last a meadow,
the three of us whirling and singing, the three of us
screaming and falling, as if we were dying,
as if we could never stop–in 1945–
in Pittsburgh, beautiful filthy Pittsburgh, home
of the evil Mellons, 5,000 miles away
from the other dancing–in Poland and Germany–
oh God of mercy, oh wild God.

We can feel the tension between the dance punctuated by the “half fart” sounds coming from beneath the father’s arm pit in the poem and the war, “5,000 miles away” where Jews were “dancing” to keep away from Poland and Germany’s death camps. The family is dancing and laughing, falling as if dying as a way to deal with the horrors of the world. As readers, we see the pain between the lines, how the family is caught in their poverty and loss, and the greater loss of those who they feel connected to across the world, who are, in fact, dying. Similarly to the efforts of Sherlock Holmes, poets work to help us become aware of the larger connections of our inner world to outward realties so that we bring to the surface the details that enable us to begin to see the truth of our own experience. Though still affirming emotion, poetry in this way is a kind of corrective to a post-truth world where appeal to emotion matters more than facts.

Michael Longley, in a recent interview with Krista Tippett on her program, On Being, “The Vitality of Ordinary Things,” Tippett asks Longley, “What does poetry do? What does it work if it’s not solace?” Longley responds, “if you think of an out-of-tune violin, and tuning it up so that it’s in tune, I think that’s what art is, and that’s what art does. And good art, good poems is making people more human, making them more intelligent, making them more sensitive and emotionally pure than they might otherwise be.” This is a truth built from the fabric of the heart, and is also what I recall Lucille Clifton saying when I took a summer the Flight of the Mind writing workshop from her in Oregon during the 1990’s, “Poetry humanizes.”

Langley goes on to say in the interview with Tippett that “one of the marvelous things about poetry is that it’s useless. It’s useless. ‘What use is poetry?’ people occasionally ask in the butcher shop, say. They come up to me, and they say, ‘What use is poetry?’ And the answer is no use, but it doesn’t mean to say that it’s without value. It’s without use, but it has value. It has — it is valuable. And it’s the first thing — the first people that dictators try to get rid of are the poets, and the artists, and the novelists, and the playwrights. They burn their books. They’re terrified of what poetry can do….It means that — poetry encourages you to think for yourself…The image that I love the most… is English critic, Cyril Connolly, and he compared the arts to a little gland in the body, like the pituitary gland, which is at the base of the spine. And it seems very small and unimportant, but when it’s removed, the body dies.” Unlike those who embody a post-truth mentality, poetic imagination is central to helping readers see the truth of human experience beneath the rhetoric. Facts do matter. Intention matters. Poetry asks us to examine the details of our lives and the fabric they weave. Poetry calls us to think about what matters, and to move into relationship with the world around us.

In his poem, “Wounds” Langley writes,

Over a landscape of dead buttocks
My father followed him for fifty years.
At last, a belated casualty,
He said – lead traces flaring till they hurt –
‘I am dying for King and Country, slowly.’
I touched his hand, his thin head I touched.

Now, with military honours of a kind,
With his badges, his medals like rainbows,
His spinning compass, I bury beside him
Three teenage soldiers, bellies full of
Bullets and Irish beer, their flies undone.
A packet of Woodbines I throw in,
A lucifer, the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Paralysed as heavy guns put out
The night-light in a nursery for ever;
Also a bus-conductor’s uniform –
He collapsed beside his carpet-slippers
Without a murmur, shot through the head
By a shivering boy who wandered in
Before they could turn the television down
Or tidy away the supper dishes.
To the children, to a bewildered wife,
I think ‘Sorry Missus’ was what he said.

In Langley’s poem, we see the human side of dying for one’s country–the visual image of a wounded young man, and how “Paralysed as heavy guns put out/The night-light in a nursery for ever;” something that is often glossed over by politicians whose aim is to gain or maintain power while sending young men to war.

Poets must look closely at facts and tell them with the truest words they know.  Poets must aim to tell the truth so we don’t forget it, so we can find hope in bleak and difficult times that seek to erase those things that matter most.

poetry, Uncategorized, writing

On The Knees of Our Hearts

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When difficult things happen to you, people sometimes tell you, “I’ll pray for you.” Some people would never say such a thing because the words sound religious, and such words would associate them with a perspective they abhor. Because of the divisive role religion has played historically and in the current political environment, prayer is not a part of many people’s vocabulary. But if, as Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, said during a recent On Being interview with Krista Tippett, “democracy is a place where you can make personal convictions public. You can make them public in politics, you can make them public in civil society, et cetera. Right? Diversity is not just the differences you like; diversity is the differences you don’t like,” then as democratic citizens, rather than cutting off those around us who we disagree with, perhaps we want to hear each other’s stories. Perhaps we should, instead, listen to the heart beneath the stories people tell in order to find the ground we hold in common so we can build communities where diversity’s value is a lived experience.

As Parker J. Palmer points out in his story on the Global Oneness Project site, “Five Habits to Heal the Heart of Democracy,” our hearts are the place “we integrate what we know in our minds with what we know in our bones, the place where our knowledge can become more fully human.” If we are going to heal our democracy, we must do it, Palmer describes, in our daily lives, the places where we live and work. Instead of being afraid of each other and our differences, Palmer suggests that  we go ahead and speak, knowing our voices need to be heard, but when we speak to do so with humility, recognizing that we are we live in a particular context that affects our vision, a context and vision others may not share or have experienced. Because of this, Palmer suggests we recognize that our truth is partial, and acknowledge that it may not even be true. This is why we need “to listen with openness and respect, especially to “the other.”” With the windows and doors open, so to speak, so new air can flow through, I want to speak of prayer, to lean into it with humility, and notice what I can learn by reconnecting to this ancient practice.

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St. Teresa of Avila called prayer “An intimate friendship, a frequent conversation held alone with the beloved.” While growing up, I said prayers my mother taught me. I recited them at the dinner table and before climbing into bed. My mother also prayed with me before heading to school each morning. As I grew older, however, I began conversations with God in my head as I walked to and from the bus stop, and as I climbed the hill behind where we lived. I walked through the dry grass there, to sit on granite boulders overlooking the valley beyond where I inhaled the earth and sky, experiencing a nonverbal communication with the natural world as the heat from the boulders I rested on seeped into my body, emitting comfort. I felt alive there, connected, and nurtured by the earth’s presence. In the silence of the heart, God speaks,” says Mother Teresa in her essay, “On Prayer.” “Listen in silence, because if your heart is full of other things you cannot hear the voice of God…We cannot find God in noise or agitation. Nature: trees, flowers, and grass grow in silence. The stars, the moon, and the sun move in silence. “Prayer, isn’t so much about us talking or asking God for things, Mother Teresa explains. It’s mostly about listening. We listen so we understand ourselves, and who we are in connection to everything else. Wandering on the hills as a child prepared me for this way of knowing.

The poet Czeslaw Milosz, explores this idea of prayer as connectedness in his poem, “On Prayer.” Prayer takes us to a place where “the word is/ Unveils a meaning we hardly envisioned./Notice: I say we; there, every one, separately,/ Feels compassion for others entangled in the flesh.” In prayer, Milosz tells the reader, time seems to stand still. This place of “is” Milosz refers to, suggests the awareness of being fully connected to the present moment, alive in our being, and aware of our connectedness with others. The Hindus have a wonderful metaphor describing all existence as interconnected net. Each intersection in the net is a diamond. Each diamond is a life form reflecting all the others. Prayer is the practice of listening that draws us into an awareness of this net, helping us to recognize how we’re part of each other.

Last summer, I went to dinner at a friend’s house where before the meal, the family recited a prayer together, asking for a blessing on the food. Hearing the prayer made me consider how prayer may not necessarily be the actual words said, but the heart’s intention behind the words, similar to how much of what is understood in spoken communication is not in what is said, but the words’ intonation. If the heart during prayer is open when the words are said, they change you. Jorie Graham suggests just this in her poem, “Prayer.” The poem describes a school of minnows as they turn and swirl, “re-infolding” upon themselves in the water until a current rising from below, changes their direction, carrying them somewhere new. Prayer isn’t about getting what you want in response to requests, Graham says. Instead, “What you get is to be changed.” You’re swimming along in your circling path, but prayer takes you out of your habitual pattern, and sets you off somewhere new.

At some point in life, we encounter serious difficulty. We come to the border of our ability to comprehend or cope with our circumstances. This is where we enter the territory of wordless prayer not of communion, but of yearning that arises from the deepest wells and holes in our selves where we reach out, yet have no words to articulate what’s in our hearts: we live the prayer of loss, grief, or pain. Vassar Miller in his poem, “Without Ceremony,” says, “Except ourselves, we have no other prayer.” We ourselves are prayer. Being is prayer, and in that state, similar to the prayer where we sense communion, we are fully alive, and one might say pure, in our trust and vulnerability because we are completely open—raw. When we bring ourselves to God in this state, we sense our longing so deeply, “Our needs are sores upon our nakedness,” to use Miller’s words. We know our weaknesses well, and we know we are naked, wounded, and in deep need. In this state, words aren’t necessarily needed. Our hearts cry out from within. “We fall, not on our knees, but on our hearts,/ A posture humbler far and more downcast;” writes Miller. Reading these poems about prayer affirms wordless desire, this intense thirst to touch life, to live fully.

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The deep longing in Miller’s poem, the need that is like a sore–the feeling like one is falling on the heart, the yearning for wholeness: we all come to know this ache. While living in Muslim countries, I heard prayer calls throughout the day. They reminded me to take a moment for mental prayer, to offer gratitude, and were an opportunity to purposefully notice what it was I was doing. If I sat in that silent space more often, allowing myself to cross the velvet bridge Milosz writes of, rather than relentlessly pressing on to the next task or chore, I would be in deeper conversation and relationship with God, with those around me, and with my own being. As a result, I believe I also would be less afraid and understand better how to live and to love. Listening requires time and focus. We don’t see what we don’t turn our eyes to. We don’t hear what we don’t tune our ears to listen to. How else might I hear God’s voice but by creating a space for entering into the place of being?

Prayer is a way for us to step outside ourselves and to listen to what lies beyond our own boundaries of vision and understanding. Prayer is listening to the words under the words. This past spring while snorkeling, I found myself in the midst of a large school of banner fish calmly floating by. As I peered out into the infinite stretch of blue at the fish slipping through the sapphire sea below, above and beyond me in complete quietness but for the sound of my breath, beauty overwhelmed me. I was swimming inside a living prayer. If “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork,” as the psalmist says, then the natural world is a kind of ongoing prayer without words. Ocean, mountains, stone and sky are all a kind of living prayer. Writing poetry requires me to notice and listen to the world and my inner self. It allows me to go down on the knees of my heart and find what is there. Writing poetry, for me, is a kind of prayer.

Uncategorized

Black Mold and Bravery

Black mold has invaded our apartment and is growing in the walls. For days now I’ve not slept well. First workers came and pulled off the tiles in the bathroom to fix the leaky pipe, releasing the reeking smell into the air. They have since tiled the wall back in this week, but the caustic smell is still there. The mold is masked, but continues on inside the wall and is pushing its way through into the living room.

Clearly, the mold had been there for some time, though we didn’t realize it. Red or puffy eyes in the morning, wheezing at night, draining sinuses, rashes on the skin, and yes, even hair loss, which I’ve been noticing for some time now and wondering why it is happening, these (and more) are the signs of reaction to mold, but because we couldn’t see it, we didn’t know the mold was growing behind the walls until the neighbors complained their walls were showing stains.

When the workers broke open the walls they released the toxic smells. Recently, a colleague and I were discussing how we might get better at connecting with people and situations we found difficult in our work. She asked if I had listened to Brene Brown‘s TED talk “The Gift of Imperfection.” I hadn’t, but went home that evening and listened to several of her talks. One of Brown’s statements, out of many that resonate with me is this: “Unused creativity is not benign; it metastasizes. It turns into grief, judgement, sorrow, and shame.” I thought of the mold behind the wall. A pipe behind a wall leaks. You don’t realize it, but the mold begins growing, and eventually you have a problem you can’t fix simply by breaking open the tile, repairing the leak, and then tiling the wall back up. The mold is growing now, and you’ve got to remove it and create something new.

Since the apartment I live in isn’t mine, I don’t get to make the choice about removing the mold growing in the wall or covering it back up with tile, however. The choice of putting something in the wall that kills the mold, or to mask it with clorox instead, isn’t mine. As I lie in the bed at night coughing, I think of the people everywhere who are living with mold or who have lived in oppressive environments.

When the Czech writer and illustrator Peter Sis, came to the American Embassy School here in Delhi several years back, he explained over dinner with a small group of teachers that he is a man without a country. The country he was born into, Czechoslovakia, no longer exists. Those words have echoed in my mind ever since. It took Odysseus 10 years to make it back home after the Trojan wars. That is a long time, but some people can never return home because there is no home to return to. There is suffering in situations like these. Once you are gone a decade from your home, you are changed. You might return home, but you won’t necessarily every be at home again as the world of home, like a ship under sail, continues on its own trajectory while you have been sailing along a different route encountering land and storms not like those you might have experienced had you stayed on the ship you began on. All seas are not the same.

When some people leave home, they don’t want to return, however. My husband’s grandparents came from Italy, but when asked if he would like to go on a trip with us to visit Italy, his father expressed absolutely no interest in it. “Why would I want to go there?” was his response. That was the end of the conversation. As someone who loves travel, is curious about the world, and wants to understand the roots I’m connected to, that statement perplexed me. Currently, I’m reading Milan Kundera‘s book of essays, Encounter.  In his essay, “Exile as Liberation According to Vera Linhartova,” Kundera quotes her saying, “The writer is above all a free person, and the obligation to preserve his independence against all constraints comes before any other consideration. And I mean not only the insane constraints imposed by an abusive political power, but the restrictions–all the harder to evade because they are well-intentioned–that cite a sense of duty to one’s country.” People have fled their countries because of war, have been exiled for their ideas or their writing. But some people don’t chose to return because greater than a bond to history or language, is the person’s desire to choose his or her own path, one that has given them what they sense to be a greater freedom, freedom they wouldn’t have if they returned to the world their history is rooted in. France allowed Linhartova’s creative freedom. Freedom is connected to struggle.

My husband’s grandparents gave up their lives in Italy, and struggled under great difficulty to make a life in the United States. Similar to Linhartova, remaining outside the country of their birth was a choice. The struggle to make a life in another country and culture allowed their children and grandchildren greater opportunity and freedom. Standing between two worlds, they found a home outside of the definitions of home they knew. They lived on the edge of great challenges and risk. Brene Brown says in her interview with Krista Tippett “The Courage to Be Vulnerable”  on Tippett’s site On Being, “The …beautiful thing I look back on in my life is coming out from underneath things I didn’t know I could come out from underneath…the moments that made me, were moments of struggle.” Our family’s Italian grandparents, like immigrants in general, were brave. Their stories aren’t without loss and grief, but they they followed the path that called to them, and today, without ever having met them, I feel gratitude for the daring their lives demonstrated in giving up the world they knew in exchange for a life still full of difficulty, but one lived with hope and a sense of possibility.

Living here in India, I constantly see people struggling for survival. I want the people I encounter to know they will get to eat every day, to be able to go to school, to realize they have stories worth telling and hearing, that their lives have meaning and their creative expression is valuable. But the poor of the world, and those without opportunity are often unseen and ignored. To go to school in Delhi, a child needs a uniform. Some families are too poor to buy the uniforms, and therefore, their children don’t attend school. There is need.

Outside the gates of our school here in Delhi this morning, children who live in the slum across the street waited to be measured for school uniforms that teachers here at our school are raising money to buy for them. Education will give these children opportunity.

John Ciardi, in his poem, “Matins,” writes about a poor woman who died on the streets of Paris,

It froze in Paris last night and a rag doll
that had been a woman too tattered-old to notice
turned up stiff on a bench. So the police,
who spend least on the living, paid to haul
nothing to nothing. She could have lived for a week
on what the bureau will spend on paper work;

The poem goes on to describe how more was spent on the woman after she died than it might have taken to help her live, and find how to give her a place in the world. Ciardi’s poem closes with these words:

…Every child
risked from love and held must be put down
to walk itself away, and turn by turn
become another. This dirty doll unheld
by any arm is one altar piece
from which mad Francis learned to be a priest.

It takes courage to notice the things in our lives and our world that aren’t going so well, that are like the mold growing behind the wall, and to move out into a life of challenge, but the possibility of greater freedom. If we continue to ignore those things that are eating away at us, however, or don’t give creative expression to it when it’s not in our power to change things, eventually the mold breaks through the wall and we’re no longer living in a life engendering place.

Inside the world of discomfort and the wreaking smell of mold, some are brave enough to break open walls and persevere as they reach to find a path with their lives that offers hope and makes a difference. Noticing the poverty around him is what called St. Francis to live his life under the vow of poverty, a life given to empathy and compassion that still touches our lives centuries later. The world could use more people as brave as he.

It is late afternoon and we have returned from the art room where my husband, Michael, holds an adult art afternoon on Sundays where many people (like myself) are exploring art for the first time, learning they can make things they didn’t know they could. Now he’s out in the community garden planting seeds because tonight is the blood moon, a rare lunar eclipse of a super moon, and a good time for planting, he says. It’s an effort, he explains, to make a healthy life for people. “To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly,” Brene Brown states. From organizing the effort to raise the funds for having the children’s uniforms made so they can go to school, to helping people discover ways to be creative, to planting seeds, to preparing this evening’s meal, which he is about to do, my husband is a man who day by day is following St. Francis’s path of giving himself to the world around him. If we are going to change the world, surely it will take each of us being faithful in the small things with those around us daily. As Mother Teresa said, “that is where our strength lies.”