Tag: contemplation

Desert Rains


DesertRainThis evening, God picked up the blue bowl of the desert sky and gently set it upside down, the pale orange inside glowing faintly overhead. Rain drizzled gently, steadily from the pale orange bowl high overhead.

The rain moved quietly across the desert valley floor. No great gusts of wind, bright flashes of lightening, or cracks of thunder heralded the soft rain, that gently settled the dust and soaked slowly into the hard-packed desert floor, gradually forming puddles just deep enough to dampen a walker’s sneaker-clad feet. Mind you, the wise desert dwellers deployed a compact umbrella or donned a rain-resistant poncho, and kept a weather eye out for drivers peering through windshields poorly cleared by seldom used wipers in poor repair. What a perfect evening for soaking in the scent and sound of gentle desert rains.

Quote of the Day: We All Need a Sabbath Right About Now


“Shabbat, one of the first commands Moses gave the Jewish people, remains as relevant now as it was then. It tells us that happiness lies not in what we buy but in what we are; that true commitment is to be found not by seeking what we lack but by giving thanks for what we have; and that we should never allow ourselves to be so busy making a living that we have all too little time to live. Above all, we should never be led by the crowd when it stampedes in pursuit of gain, for that is how gold becomes the Golden Calf.” — Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Covenant and Conversation

Many of us have extra time on our hands that we’d prefer not to have. People have lost their jobs, activities have been canceled, visits have been postponed, vacations are on hold. Regardless of your circumstances, everyone could use a Sabbath right about now.

You may feel like the last thing you want to do is rest, particularly if it’s been forced on you. But why not take this time as an opportunity? Some of you may want to work on long-delayed projects; others may want to do their spring cleaning early or clean out the refrigerator (ugh).

Member Post


President Trump is reported to be preparing an address to the nation this Ash Wednesday on the Chinese coronavirus, COVID-19. In the meantime, he and First Lady Melania Trump have offered a message to Christians on this Ash Wednesday. A quick look back shows that presidents of both parties make a proclamation on this occasion, […]

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Unselfing, Marys and Marthas: Winter of Discontent, or Mind of Winter?


“One must have a mind of winter… And have been cold a long time… not to think / Of any misery in the sound of the wind,” the January wind. So says Wallace Stevens in his poem, The Snow Man. Misery and discontent aren’t identical, but a series of small miseries — unrelated to wintry weather — means February snuck up on me this year, almost as if January never happened, so misery must do for my “winter of discontent”. To “the listener, who listens in the snow,” hearing the sound of the wind, the poem promises if he becomes “nothing himself” he’ll “behold[] / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” People “cold a long time” can go numb, of course, and numbness is a kind of “nothing” obliterating misery. But numbness seems insufficient for a “mind of winter”.

For our own survival, we see winter’s cold as hostile. Our success as biological beings depends on our sensing discomfort, in order to mitigate risk before it’s too late. Concern for our own comfort is a form of self-regard that isn’t optional, if we care to live. Nonetheless, necessary self-regard is still self-regard. A mind of winter leaves self-regard behind. And so, it sees wintry beauty — the snowy, frozen world lit with “the distant glitter / Of the January sun” — simply because it is there to see, irrespective of what it might mean to the self. Winter in itself isn’t hostile, just indifferent: self-regard makes the indifference seem hostile. A mind of winter is “unselfed”.