What the Robin Saw: Anthropocentrism & Subjectivity (Part 1)

What the Robin Saw: Anthropocentrism & Subjectivity (Part 1)

I was still pretty young the first time I heard an animal speak.

It was a lazy summer morning, and I was curled up on the back porch with a book in my lap. All around me in the yard, the birds were singing… and then I saw, only a few feet from me, a robin. I tried to still every part of me — heart, body and mind — quieting even my thoughts so that I wouldn’t startle him away. Then the voice spoke, precise and articulate, nonchalant, almost amused.

It must have all happened in less than a minute. My reasoning mind struggled to make sense of what I’d experienced. But the words still echoed. Had it all been in my mind? No more than the stars are in the sky.

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A Mouse Named Shou

A Mouse Named Shou

This past weekend, we lost a beloved pet. Shou, a little gray mouse named for the Taoist god of longevity, joined our mixed and motley family six months ago along with her two sisters, Fu and Lu. Even from the beginning, she was the obvious Big Sis, bossing around the others, taking it upon herself to obsessively reorganize and redecorate their shared tank, transforming the new house we’d provided them for into a home. She loved playtime, but she was never one to clambered up my arm to perch on my shoulder. She preferred tunneling under blankets and exploring the dark recesses of empty tissue boxes instead. Still, she blessed our lives with such sweet-tempered assertiveness that even in the short six months she was with us, we came to feel like she’d always been a member of our family.

She was dearly loved, and she will be deeply missed.

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Nature and the Awe of Childhood

Nature and the Awe of Childhood

Maybe I was a weird kid, more enamored, more sensitive than most, and as I’ve grown up, my perspective has changed and evolved. But that this is true only convinces me all the more of how important it is to appreciate the diversity of experiences and the many voices that strive to share them, and not to be too quick to dismiss certain experiences or perspectives as less valuable or insightful than others.

Is there only one way to appreciate nature? I can’t believe there would be just one.

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Lectio Divina: Reading the Book of Nature

Lectio Divina: Reading the Book of Nature

When we see nature itself as a constantly-unfolding story about the deepest, most sacred truths of life and death, we can adapt the practice of Lectio Divina as a creative approach to meditation that can strengthen our relationship with the earth. Here are just a few ideas about how to use the practice of Lectio Divina to engage with the stories of nature.

Although we can approach each of the four stages of Lectio Divina as distinct activities that we can do one at a time on their own, we experience the most benefit from this kind of spiritual work when we bring them together into a single coherent, continuous practice.

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The Joyful Wound: Blended Families and Disneyland Dads

The Joyful Wound: Blended Families and Disneyland Dads

Being a stepmom is like having to learn how to be bravely and joyfully wounded. How to be fiercely protective and graceful in your impotence all at the same time. It’s having to be honest about your wounds, to learn how to teach by example what it’s like to bear them courageously and lovingly — while at the same time fighting like hell to make sure the kids don’t grow up with any deep wounds of their own, if you can possibly spare them. It’s also learning to accept that they might grow up with wounds anyway, and they might think you’re full of shit no matter what explanations you give them for the choices you made… if you’re lucky enough to get them to listen at all. It’s knowing that they might even be right, and you’re making all the wrong choices. But you suck it up and have a little trust and try to practice some preemptive self-forgiveness.

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Double-Rainbow Dawn: A Story of Balance and Karma

Do you ever find yourself awake just before dawn, lying in the dark, your mind gnawing on some old, persistent anxiety?

This morning I was worrying about money. Not surprising — a lot of us worry about money these days. I was worrying about money because of an email yesterday from the Ew about a timeshare that she and Jeff had bought years ago when they were married.

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