A Black Belt in Aikido

In the practice of aikido, a form of martial arts intended only for defense and never for aggression, the practitioner begins their training with a white belt. Over time and through endless hours of practice, the belt becomes dirty and worn. It is said in this way the practitioner gains their black belt. At the level of black belt, the movements of aikido become nearly invisible. The aikido practitioner becomes an elegant, balancing force to the opposing force. It looks like a scuffle to the novice’s eyes, but it is… Read More

How Many Guns?

How many guns would Jesus own? One? Five? 12? 25? What about Martin Luther King Jr.? Or Mahatma Gandhi? Or Mother Teresa? Or Pope Francis? Or the Dalai Lama? Or Cesar Chavez? How many guns will we protect over the lives of black and brown people? Our children? Our elderly? How many racists will we excuse as mentally ill while we frantically outlaw teaching our children about systemic racism and the evils of the supremacy of whiteness? The shooting in Buffalo, New York, was terrible. So was every shooting before… Read More

As If Each Day Counts

In her book, No Cure For Being Human, author, and professor Kate Bowler tells a story of the day she attended a departmental meeting out of sheer boredom. She was fighting cancer, and her prognosis was not good. But still, she spent some of her precious time left attending a boring departmental meeting.  She tried to explain this to her friend Warren. She says, “‘I have given up on the future.’  After a long pause, he asks, ‘Would you agree that true happiness is the ability to enjoy the present… Read More

What Are We Feeding?

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two “wolves” inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.  The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee replied,… Read More

Allegiance to Gratitude

On the Onondaga land, shaped by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, school children begin their day not with the Pledge of Allegiance but with the Thanksgiving Address. They begin their days by expressing their gratitude to all members of the natural world. It begins…

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A Better Economy

I am a partner in a real estate company that tries to provide affordable housing to families living in the Atlanta area. With rising interest rates, I’ve noticed an interesting shift in the business that’s causing me concern.  Typically, when securing a mortgage, you work with a company to lock in an interest rate that’s guaranteed during a designated period while you and the mortgage company are getting the paperwork in place. Lately, I’ve noticed multiple mortgage companies suddenly losing paperwork. Or they can’t get appraisals finished by the deadline…. Read More

A Life Well-Lived

New York Times guest essay writer Tim Urban wrote an article about how we spend time in our lives. He created a graph with circles, each representing a week in the life of someone who would live to 90 years old (see below).  Urban says, “It often feels like we have countless weeks ahead of us. But actually, it’s just a few thousand — a small-enough number to fit neatly in a single image. Once you visualize the human life span, it becomes clear that so many parts of life… Read More

Let Them Grow Together

Each day, the war in Ukraine battles on, bringing more heartbreak and violence for all involved. While all eyes are on that conflict, we also remember that of the 197 countries in the world, generally one-quarter of them are in conflict at any given time. Our impulse towards violence with our neighbors seems a never-ending human challenge. While wars have been fought to achieve the freedoms and peace some of us enjoy this day, the deepest parts of us know that war is not a redemptive act. War is never… Read More

Write Your Testament

I am away on an eight-day silent retreat at the beautiful Eastern Point Jesuit Retreat Center in Gloucester, MA. This time grants me space to quiet myself and listen for that “still small voice” of the Sacred. Each day we practice the spiritual exercises taught by St. Ignatius. We pray, read scriptures, quietly reflect on their meaning for our lives and celebrate Mass each day. I am not Catholic, but I do find the structures of these days meaningful, helping create space for contemplation. The Jesuits have a prayer book… Read More