Courage as An Applied Art of Spirit

"I have come to believe that we can only discover the capacity and meaning of our courage in the context of our struggles, in how we face and inhabit the challenges life presents to us. In this, courage is an applied art of spirit. It is not something we can manipulate, but only live into. Recovering the Source and living it out in the world, alone and together, is a lifelong devotion. One that we must, ultimately, inhabit alone, but one which we must enliven together."
Finding Inner Courage

True Freedom of the Heart

"Our obsession with avoiding grief is the major obstacle to experiencing true freedom of the heart. At the same time, grief is the chief practice ground for acceptance. Such acceptance, not on an intellectual level, but in the belly of our days, is a way to kneel by the endless stream that runs through all of life. Whether we drop to our knees or are brought to our knees, drinking from that stream is what makes us wholehearted."
Finding Inner Courage

Caring for Things That Are Broken

"Breeders shoot horses with broken legs, as if there's nothing to be done. But now I know they do this for themselves, not wanting to care for a horse that cannot run.

"In just this way, fearful and selfish people cut the cord to those who are broken, not wanting to sit with a friend who can't find tomorrow, not wanting to be saddled with someone who will slow them down, not wanting to face what is broken in themselves. In this lies the challenge of compassion. For when we dare to hold those forced to the ground, dare to hold them close, the truth of holding and listening sings and we are carried into the wisdom of broken bones and how things heal.

"These are quiet braveries we all need: The courage to wait and watch with all of who we are. The courage to admit that we are not alone. The courage to hold each other to the ear of our heart. And the courage to care for things that are broken."
The Exquisite Risk

Holding Nothing Back

"In my life, each instance of holding nothing back is a teacher. In the realm of the body, I keep learning how to give my all in order to land in a stream of grace. In the realm of the mind, I keep learning how to break the hardened province of my little world in order to humbly join the Universe. In the realm of the heart, I keep learning that perceiving and expressing is a sacred aerobic that keeps my emotional center healthy and clean. And in the realm of spirit, I keep learning that surrendering all my dreams and wounds and personal histories, no matter how briefly, allows the fragrance of my soul to renew my sense of life as an unrepeatable mystery."
The Exquisite Risk

The Whole of Life

"The whole of life has a power to soften and open us against our will, to irrigate our spirits, and in those moments, we discover that tears, the water from within, are a common blood, mysterious and clear. We may speak different languages and live very different lives, but when that deep water swells to the surface, it pulls us to each other."
The Book of Awakening

Watch A Loved One

"When the chance presents itself, watch a loved one breathe in their sleep. Look upon them as you would a flower, with gratitude and wonder that they even exist. Watch quietly and, if you can, breathe in rhythm with their unconscious breath. Feel the air move between you both as you breathe, and know this human moment as a common silk that connects everything."
The Book of Awakening

An Umbilical Spot of Grace

"Each person is born with an unencumbered spot, free of expectation and regret, free of ambition and embarrassment, free of fear and worry; an umbilical spot of grace where we were each first touched by God. It is this spot of grace that issues peace. Psychologists call this spot the Psyche, theologians call it the Soul, Jung calls it the Seat of the Unconscious, Hindu masters call it Atman, Buddhists call it Dharma, Rilke calls it Inwardness, Sufis call it Qalb, and Jesus calls it the Center of our Love."
Unlearning Back to God

Death at My Shoulder

"I have, quite frankly, found death at my shoulder earlier than most. Yet I have also been touched by a relentless, mysterious grace which surfaced briefly to restore me. Now I find myself tied to a fathomless place where I had not dared to voyage. I call that reservoir God, though you may call it something else.

"Now, all these years later, I find myself devoted to eternity opened by the moment. This stems from the fact that I have been broken by disease and know, beyond any doubt, that there are moments endured from which our lives will never be the same; severe moments beyond which everything is changed. No one asks for these moments. They simply happen the way a merciless wind cracks a tree we never imagined would crack. But it is the wind of all time breathing through our cracks that transforms us."
Surviving Has Made Me Crazy: Poems

Independence and Community

"After two centuries of freedom, it helps to remember that America is not a painting that has dried, hanging on some museum wall, but rather a vibrant river that keeps shifting its course and scouring its banks, widening its way to the sea. As Vincent Harding, a friend and colleague of Martin Luther King Jr., has said, 'Democracy is not a static thing. It does not stand still. If we don't keep finding ways to expand and deepen democracy, we will see it diminish.'

"It is interesting that while the Founding Fathers were crafting the magnificent Declaration of Independence, our native fathers were practicing their own magnificent sense of community. In the Iroquois nation, in particular, there is a custom known as dream-walking, in which each person's individual dreams and sufferings are interpreted to find communal meaning, and those meanings, woven together, are then used to blueprint the dream for the community. It is no accident that these two sensibilities, independence and community, flourished at the same time. In our age, it seems we have a call to marry them further — in fact, an urgency to do so."
Deepening the American Dream