Friday, December 31, 2021

 What Shape Is Your Nest in?

This cute critter got me thinking about nesting. She’s a thirteen-lined ground squirrel. Her burrow lay beneath the campsite that my family occupied for several days this past week. The main entrance to the burrow was a small hole, two inches in diameter, right in front of our parked car.
Mornings and nights, we never saw the squirrel. But throughout the sunny afternoons, she skittered around, gathering grass and dried leaves to spruce up her underground digs. Her head would pop up from her hole. After scouting for predators, she’d leap out and dash away. Soon she’d return, her mouth so full of nesting material that, even scratching and pushing with her hind legs, she could barely squeeze back into the burrow.
“How much nesting stuff does one squirrel need?” I wondered. “Does an entire town of squirrels live down there?” (The answer, I learned, was no. This type of ground squirrel is a solitary creature.)
“Maybe she’s preparing for some little ones,” I thought. (Nope. I learned that her mating and birthing season was well past—if, in fact, the squirrel was a "she." You can’t tell a female from a male by their markings.)
“Maybe she’s getting ready to hibernate,” I thought. (Wrong again. She won’t hole up for winter until late September or early October.)
As you can tell, I’m no expert on ground squirrels (or “striped gophers,” as they’re sometimes called). But our half-pint friend seemed intent on all this trouble, several hours every day, scampering around, yanking up grass and collecting husks and leaves, for no other reason than to make herself more comfortable. That’s right: to take care of herself.


Guess what else? Though I listened closely, I never once heard this squirrel accounting for why she was cushifying her digs instead of storing up seeds and other necessities. Nor did I ever hear her apologizing for devoting so much attention to her own self-care. She simply knew it needed to be done, and she did it.
This leads me to ask: What’s the state of your nest? Might it benefit from some loving attention? 

* * *
“Nesting” has been on my mind a lot these days. In less than three weeks, son Nathan will be a wet-behind-the-ears freshman moving into a college dorm. Like a family of squirrels, we've been stockpiling the goods he’ll require in his new home away from home.
Nathan doesn’t much care about transforming his dorm room into a welcoming, cozy space. “It just needs to be functional,” he told me, ever the practical soul.
So I asked him if I might help organize and style his room. “It would make me feel better about your leaving home."
He took no persuading. I’m thrilled. It’s a bit like being pregnant again, preparing a safe, cheerful place for my baby.

While I’m helping with Nathan’s college nest, I’m also discussing with husband Jihong certain changes to our nest, a beloved but crotchety 130-year-old house. First, we want to rearrange and redecorate a few of the living spaces. These alterations won’t involve much money; muscles, mostly. Yet they will make these rooms more suitable for us as a couple. One day, we hope to downsize to a different dwelling altogether, one that will be friendlier as we advance in age.
Nathan has said yes to all this nesting, too. Even though he won’t be around much anymore, he still lives here. He’s part of us. We hoped for his blessing and weren’t disappointed.
* * *
No matter what kind of nest you or I might have, when we take care of it, we take care of ourselves at the same time. Nesting isn’t just a way to shelter and protect ourselves and those we love. It’s also an activity that helps us find our balance. It can help keep us sane, especially during challenging times in our lives.
I invite you to look at the place where you live (or work) with fresh eyes. How do you feel in this space? How might you feel more content in it? Would you like to try rearranging the furniture? What about changing the lighting, or the colors? What’s there that doesn’t have to be? What isn’t there that you wish for?
If you’ve gone through a recent transition (or are about to), please consider the possibility of reflecting that reality in your home environment. Maybe your children don’t need you as they used to. Maybe you lost your job or are in financial distress. Maybe someone dear to you has died. Maybe you yourself are exhibiting signs of illness or age. Maybe life is hard right now, for no reason you can pinpoint.
Reimagining your old nest might open and soothe your spirit. And bringing that creative vision for your nest into being might remind you of your own worth and power. You don’t have to settle for what is. You can comfy it up. For your own sake.

 You don’t have to justify your nesting. You don’t have to apologize for it. Just ask yourself what you want to do, and do it—
Whether you’re a "she" or a "he."

Deep peace,

Phyllis Cole-Dai

This post first appeared in a recent issue of Staying Power, Phyllis’s weekly care package for creative, compassionate spirits. Get a boost in your inbox!

Friday, December 24, 2021


 He told them another parable:

The kingdom of heaven is like the yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.    Luke 13:21

On a whim, earlier this week I decide to attempt making lahmajoun, a really tasty treat that we lovingly call “Armenian Pizza” in our family.  Essentially, it is a flat bread with a seasoned meat and tomato and parsley spread on it - baked in a hot oven.  I had never made it before.  The dough for the flat bread requires working with yeast - - always a mystery to me - - but my husband (the Armenian half of this duo) was encouraging.

I found a fairly straightforward recipe and mixed up the flour and water and yeast and set it to proof.  The recipe said “one hour.”  Meanwhile I went about making the “filling,” chopping onions and garlic and parsley - mixing in green peppers and seasoning into the ground meat.

At the 45 minute mark, I checked the dough.  Whoa!!  It was beginning to leave the bowl, having
expanded to more than double its original volume in far less than the recommended time.  I shaped the dough into balls to be rolled out into 8” discs, covering most of them with a towel per instructions while I rolled out the rest and spread them with the meat mixture.

With a baking sheet of lahmajoun in the oven, I returned to the covered balls of dough to discover they had grown in size again!  Clearly I had to speed up the process or my kitchen would soon be wall to wall dough in something reminiscent of an episode of “I Love Lucy!”  (OK- So I just really dated myself!)

Yeast is amazingly resilient, persistent, insistent and lively.

A little later in the week, we decided to get tested for Covid prior to a family gathering on Christmas.  I had been anxious about doing so because of all the news stories about long lines, slow results, unavailable tests and on and on.  So it took a bit of self persuasion in the service of my loved ones to get us both to a testing site.  And sure enough - there was a bit more anxiety as we pulled up to the 1st screening stop.  “Do you have an appointment?”   Wellll - - no.  We saw the sign that said “free testing” and we got in line.  “Do you have an account with us?”  Again -a hesitant “no.”  Expecting to be turned away, I put the car in gear, but heard the screener say "just pull over there and park and we’ll get this sorted out." 

Ten  minutes later we were given the “go ahead” by a very kind young man who had taken our necessary information and entered us into the data base.  I pulled the car into the testing line.  As we approached the technician, she turned and waved to us excitedly.  From behind her mask and plastic face screen she smiled with her eyes and directed us to the right spot.  She did everything she could to make the experience a pleasant, even enjoyable, one.  The team spends 4 days a week  out in the cold and wind and rain making it possible for people to get tested.  The kindness we experienced throughout the testing process leavened the rest of our day.  

That same evening, we signed in to Krista Tippett’s Solstice Gathering on Zoom.  We had barely put our greetings in the “chat” when it was announced that we were at 7000 participants and counting.  It was a most profound experience, watching the “chats” scroll by too fast to be able to read them as people from all over the planet signed in; from the Philippines, Dubai, Great Britain, Denmark, South Africa, Japan, Hawaii, Sweden, France, and, of
course, Martha’s Vineyard and more.  Human beings from every corner of the planet joined in a vast network for a celebration of the solstice and a time of sharing our humanity in the midst of a global concern for the health and well being of the planet and her human constituency. In the process of naming and attending to the heavy anxiety and stress with which we all live, life, somehow, became more “do-able” and I felt more connected with the goodness of humankind.   I came away from the webinar feeling more hope for us and the planet than I have felt in a while.  

There is “yeasting” afoot on the planet.  The kingdom of heaven is like yeast...the kingdom of  heaven is among you. Luke 17:21

Vicky Hanjian

Friday, December 17, 2021

Into the Stillness - the Gifts & Challenges of Interfaith Engagement

I took a deep breath as I stepped out of the spirit-filled Roxbury church and breathed the still night air. It had been almost too rich, too much to take in, to hold all of the beauty, the pain, the pathos and poignancy. I paused for a few moments, taking stock, an inventory of thoughts and feelings, wanting to be sure I had taken them all with me, that I hadn’t left any behind, even if some I might have preferred to. It has been such a full week of interfaith engagement, with all of the profound challenges and profound gifts that are held and beheld in this work, each part of the blessing in choosing to engage. 

The four hours in the church was a gathering of clergy to learn about and support “The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values,” coming to know each other before gathering at the State House on September 12th to present to the governor and legislative leaders the “Higher Ground Moral Declaration” (HYPERLINK ""http://www. moraldeclaration).

Reaching beyond its roots in the Black churches of the south, extending its branches as “a tree standing by the water,” a plea has gone out to help it truly be an interfaith movement. Though I felt squeamish at first with the Christian sound of its name, a name that could suggest very different values than those I would identify with, its tone and message become quickly clear: “We believe our moral traditions have a firm foundation upon which to stand against the divide-and-conquer strategies of extremists. We believe in a moral agenda that stands against systemic racism, classism, poverty, xenophobia, and any attempt to promote hate towards any members of the human family. We claim a higher ground in partisan debate by returning public discourse to our deepest moral and constitutional values. The Higher Ground Moral Declaration provides a moral agenda for our nation.” 

The four hours in the church became a time of deep engagement, of wrestling across and within traditions, challenging, comforting, and embracing each other. Teachings were presented from two traditions, Jewish and Muslim, that in itself, in a predominantly Christian context, its own an affirmation of inclusion. In a framework of learning called, “Recovery of Sacred Text,” I shared a powerful rabbinic teaching that speaks to the timeless essence of conflict resolution. Set in the context of traditional Jewish learning, the text as life, the whole self engaged, the full panoply of personal emotion and experience may come into play. The challenge is not to slam the book shut, not to walk away in anger, to remember that we are the sacred text. 

 Flowing from a creative play on words in Numbers 21:14, Rabbi Chiyya son of Abba said, “even a parent and a child, a teacher and a student who study Torah in one gate become enemies to one another; but they do not move away from there until they come to love each other, as it is written Vahev in Sufa…; do not read b’sufa (in the Reed Sea or whirlwind), but rather b’sofah/in the end – so there shall be ahavah ba’sofah/love in the end…. It is a teaching that is rooted in a people’s emphasis on books, offering a way of peace making that demands the use of words rather than weapons. We are the text to be recovered, for each of us, our best selves waiting to emerge. When engaged in deep conflict, faced with fierce difference of opinion in approach to text and life, even becoming enemies, we are duty bound not to move from that place, not to walk away from each other until in the end there is love. It is a powerful, and, at times, a terrifying challenge in which lies the timeless essence of interfaith work, committing to engage, to stay the course with eyes on the prize, seeking together, even in spite of our selves, to create a better world. 

After my sharing, a Muslim woman offered a Quranic text, a teaching of challenge and empowerment, I thought, that for God to make change in the world and in the conditions around us, we first have to make change within ourselves. I found it to be a powerful thought, not dissimilar to a Kabbalistic teaching that Heaven is stirred to action only through stirrings from below. 

As we engaged in discussion at my table, I was taken aback by a Wampanoag woman’s expression of deep distress with the teaching. Her pain was palpable as she spoke among us. “What about when you are too broken down,” she asked, “to find such strength within yourself?” “What if you’ve been made to feel you have nothing of value within yourself or within your own tradition, that you are a sinner and have no savior, that you are not worthy of help?” She then took my breath away, “the Book was the beginning of the end for us….” We quickly realized that it was the Christian Bible she was referring to, the Book that was wielded by the priests who came before the soldiers to destroy the native peoples of the Americas, including her own Wampanoag people. As I had talked about the Book as context for sacred struggle, I thought now of the rabbis’ rueful challenge that where the book is, the sword is not; and where the sword is, the book is not. For native peoples, the Book had become the sword. We listened, we soothed, we took deep breaths, the inner struggles of each one laid bare, Jews, Muslims, Christians, one native woman of the Wampanoag people, herself, ironically perhaps, a Unitarian minister. We were all implicated and all empowered in the way of words that flow from heart to heart on streams of tears.

I got up for a moment to get some water, needing a break. A nun I know came over at that moment and hugged me and another woman, the three of us standing there as Sister Tess cried, telling us she had just seen Sister Paula the week before she was murdered. My head was spinning, needing a moment to figure out what she meant. Sister Paula Merrill, along with Sister Margaret Held, was one of the two nuns murdered in Mississippi, of the same order as Sister Tess, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. Standing there while holding each other, words were shared of a friend whose life was marked by selfless goodness, who had chosen the way of blessing and given such blessing to others.

It is the challenge of this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Re’eh, See! I set before you today: blessing and curse/Re’eh anochi notein lifneichem ha’yom b’racha u’k’lalah. It is in our hands to choose the way, whether of blessing or of curse, to see the blessing within our selves and in each other. Every person is born with their own unique task and purpose in this world that no one can take away, and, as

the Slonimer Rebbe teaches, that no one else can do, one’s presence in this world as proof of their unique importance. So we comforted the Wampanoag woman, holding her pain and our own, shining light on the positive in the Quranic verse, pain itself as empowering, if only to cry. So beaten down in Egypt, the rabbis said of the Israelites, that just to groan in pain was enough to move Heaven.

Of interfaith encounters with others, a strand was woven through the week, sharing of pain and hope and urgency to remind that Black Lives Matter. There were deeply meaningful discussions with various ministers about the Platform for Black Lives, expressions of commitment and understanding, empathy for Jewish pain through the misuse of words, even in common struggle. There emerged a beautiful sense of purpose, deeper than before, all of us needing to stand together against racism, but also pausing to acknowledge moments of hurt in the struggle. Such discussion is not possible if we back away, love emerging in the end only if we remain engaged with each other. It was beautiful to see so many of our own Nehar Shalom community at the Black Lives Matter vigil, a Christian minister closing the gathering with the singing of a nigun, a quiet gift meant for us while embracing all.

Strands from house to house continuing to weave, as the vigil ended a man came up to me and said, “I knew I would see you again.” Johnson, from Cameroon, reminded me that we met at a program at which I had spoken, a gathering to honor Pope Francis held at Saint Anthony’s Shrine downtown. He reminded me that he had difficulty with interfaith activities and that he often thought of my mother’s teaching that I shared that night. I had spoken of my Bar Mitzvah Haftorah from the Prophet Micah and the verse so important to me, It has been told to you, O, mortal, what is good and what God seeks of you, only to do justly, to love kindness and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). Johnson utterly amazed me standing there on the street corner recalling my mother’s gentle insistence that in explaining Micah’s words I should add two from her, “to walk humbly with God…, and with people.” 

So we continue to strive, to learn, to wrestle, ever seeking to walk humbly with God and with each other, staying engaged, making as one the vision and the way. Interfaith engagement brings great gifts and great challenges, enriching life immeasurably, at times taking our breath away. Stepping into the stillness of night, we pause and breathe deeply on the way to a higher moral ground.

Rabbi Victor H. Reinstein

Friday, December 10, 2021



When I looked this morning, the one blooming flower on the Angel’s Trumpet was bowed over. Surprisingly, it had bloomed for two days. All the others before it had succumbed after just one day. You would see them, and then you wouldn’t. In the morning light you might think they were sleeping, with a lowered head, but alas, they were deceased. It’s a shame their life span is so short as the colors in these flowers are gorgeous; purple and white. I can understand where the name Angel’s Trumpet originated. They look like a trumpet used to signal the entry of nobility and they wear the colors of royalty and angels.

None of the flowers in the yard (and there are many), have attracted my attention quite like the Angel’s Trumpet. When their beauty is so fragile and short lived, I guess you had better soak it up while you can and give thanks for small favors.

I’m in the middle of reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. She is a wonderful storyteller and combines the wisdom of a scientist and a culturally grounded indigenous woman. I’m learning about sweetgrass and wild strawberries and witch hazel and water lillies and black ash. Most of all, I’m learning about gratitude for the amazing complexity and interrelationships of creation that make human life possible.

We are all learning, aren’t we? We’re learning that trees produce the oxygen necessary for our breath and can provide carbon sinks. Burning wildfires and deforestation rob us of breathable air.

We’re learning that bees are necessary for pollination of at least a hundred foods we eat, including  peaches, pears, peppers and pumpkins. Sacrificing destructive chemicals is better than sacrificing our cantaloupe, carrots and cauliflower.

We’re learning that rising seas, because of the way we are changing the climate, threaten our homes, flooding or undermining their stability. Ultimately, the waters of life threaten our lives as towers collapse and rushing rivers take everything in their path.

We’re learning that we are part of the natural world and not separate from it. Remaining trapped in an illusion of separation only digs us deeper into fire and flood, misery and pain. Even more unfortunate, our separation in our man made environments keeps us from participating in the beauty and mystery of the creation.

Why do flowers on an Angel’s Trumpet only bloom for one day while the pansies have been blooming for weeks? Why do the cicadas come only once in 17 years but in South Dakota every 3-5 years? What makes that strange sound and how do the cicada nymphs live underground?

In Braiding Sweetgrass, there is a wonderful chapter called “Allegiance to Gratitude.” We are at a tribal school on the Onondaga Nation. The children are gathering together for the beginning of the school week. The third graders are responsible for leading the pledge that starts and ends the week. It is not the pledge of allegiance to a flag, although there is no disrespect meant to our flag or those who say it. Rather, they pledge allegiance in the “Thanksgiving Address;” in the language of the Onondaga people, the “Words That Come Before All Else.”

“Today we have gathered and when we look upon the faces around us we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now let us bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People. Now our minds are one.”

The Thanksgiving continues with at least a paragraph of gratitude to Mother Earth; to the Waters; the Fish; the Plants; the Berries; the Medicinal Herbs; the Trees; the Animals; the Birds; the Winds; the Thunder Beings; the Sun; the Moon; the Stars; the Teachers and Enlightened Ones; and the Creator. The final paragraph expresses regret if anything has been left out and concludes with the response, “And now our minds are one.”

May our minds be one. May we find ways to live in balance and express our gratitude for the single day beauty of an Angel’s Trumpet; for the cool unexpected breeze on a 90 degree day; for the promise of the developing tomato on the vine; for the bees buzzing from one flower to another; for the flicker on the feeder; for the sound of the cicada in the tree.

Could we start our week, even our day, with a Thanksgiving, with words of gratitude?

 Carl Kline

Friday, December 3, 2021

Parable of the Stream, in Five Parts


The woman wades into the shallow stream. The frigid October water nips the skin of her legs. The gravelly bottom bites the soles of her bare feet.
It’s too late in the season for this, part of her says.
The other part says, Relax, it’s fine.

Within a short distance, her flesh makes peace with the chill of the water. The gravel streambed becomes a mixture of silt and sand, a soft cushion to walk upon.


Here, the water is up to the woman’s thighs.
Stream, she says, if there’s something you want me to know or have, please show me.
    In time, a dark, stubby stick appears in her path, resting on the sandy bottom.
    Curious, the woman reaches into the water to fish out the piece of wood. Half-buried, it turns out to be long and stout—a perfect walking stick to support her as she strolls among the minnows.
    Thank you, she says to the stream.
    Water winks and smiles in the sunshine.


The stream leads the woman to the lake of its birth. There, at the entrance, water trips over a rock dam so narrow and rugged, only one person may traverse it at a time.
    A gray-haired woman, slight and stooped, is trying to pass over. A third of the way across, she stops, afraid she can’t safely step from where she is to where she must go.
    Dawdling nearby in the stream is a middle-aged man, pant legs rolled above his knees. “Hold out your hand,” he says to the woman, sploshing toward her. “I’ll keep you from falling.”
    The gray-haired woman stretches out her hand in trust. The stranger takes it lightly, like a dance partner.
She takes the big, necessary step. He releases her hand. They both laugh, like birdsong.
In the flowing stream, the woman leans on her stick, and laughs with them.


Halfway across the rock dam, the gray-haired woman meets a white-haired man coming from the other side. They stare at each other, unmoving. Neither can go forward. Neither wants to go back.
    “Is this a standoff?” the gray-haired woman says.
    The white-haired man doesn’t respond.
    Silent minutes pass. In the stream, the woman with the walking stick watches.
All at once, as if on cue, the gray-haired woman and the white-haired man reach out to each other and clasp hands. In one graceful motion, they brush past each other, no margin for error. Together, their uncertain feet are nimble on the tightrope of rocks.
    Letting go, they carry on their separate ways.

Two young women on the bank discuss whether or not to wade into the cold headwaters.
    Oh yes, you must, the woman leaning on her stick wants to say from the stream.
    Here, take my stick to steady yourself, she wants to say, though she knows, at their age, they won’t need it.
    I want you to have what the river has given me, she wants to say, taking a step toward the bank where they stand, to offer them the stick—
    That’s when she teeters. Loses her balance. Topples backward. Not into the water, but onto the rocky teeth of its edge.
She lands full-force, her bony spine against the jagged spine of the earth. Her neck and shoulders bounce. A stone fist punches the flesh of her right side, between her back ribs and the crest of her pelvis.
    Blinded by pain, she hears herself moan, loud and long.
How can I be making such a sound? she wonders, her lungs flat, even as her groan rakes the air.
    At last the moan stops. Once it stops, she can see again.
They’re all huddled around her: the two young women, the white-haired man, the gray-haired woman, the middle-aged stranger with his pant legs rolled up.
The kindness she earlier watched them show one another, they’re now showing her. They’re drawing deep breaths with her. They’re inquiring after her head, her neck, her spine, her legs. They’re helping her sit up. Find her feet. Transfer onto the bank, where she begins to recollect her wits and her strength.
“Stream,” she’d said, at the start, “if there’s something you want me to know, show me.”
And so it is: That to which she gave her full attention has returned to her as gift.

* * *

I based this piece on my return last weekend to the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca, Minnesota. You might recall my first visit there during the summer of 2020.

Deep peace,

Phyllis Cole Dai

This post first appeared in a recent issue of Staying Power, Phyllis’s weekly care package for creative, compassionate spirits. Get a boost in your inbox!

Friday, November 26, 2021

"The Words That Come Before All Else"

 I have been reading Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass.     Her chapter titled “Allegiance To Gratitude” gave me the most perfect prayer for our Thanksgiving table as we reflected on the Thanksgiving Address, “known more accurately as The Words That Come Before All Else.”   The opening words are: “Today we have gathered and when we look upon the faces around us we see that the cycles of life continue.  We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now let us bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People.  Now our minds are one.” 

Even though our entire family was not able to be together, three generations were represented at our table and we felt the deep gratitude that comes with the love and respect we accord one another while we read and reflected on “The Words That Come Before All Else” and we celebrated the continuing cycles of life.

The Thanksgiving Address goes on to honor and greet and give thanks to Mother Earth, to the Waters of the Earth, to Fish and to Food Plants and Medicine Herbs; to the beautiful Animal life of the world, all the creatures who walk about with us.

More than any plateful of turkey and stuffing, The Words That Come Before All Else filled me with conscious awareness of what it means to be alive and to live in harmony with creation.

We bought our small plot of land back in the early ‘60s when our town was selling off confiscated lots for which taxes had not been paid for many years in order to make them taxable again.  We bought a one half acre piece of land on Martha’s Vineyard for $300! We built a log cabin on it in 1977.  We made it our permanent home in 1994 when we moved here “year-round.”

It is not lost on us that our tiny postage stamp of land belonged to the People of the First Light, the Wampanoag people, for hundreds of generations before the white incursions.  

When we built, we were the only occupants on what would eventually become “our lane.”  We weren’t  terribly conscious back then, but even in our ignorance, we tried to make as little impact as possible on the woods surrounding us, building on just one 50’x100’  lot and leaving the other three untouched.

My kitchen window faces south, looking out on the undeveloped lots.  From my window I can watch a hawk flying with its mouth full of some hapless small creature.  Squirrels leap from one tree branch to another.  In the spring a mother skunk protectively guides her four little ones through the yard.  A flock of wild turkeys visits regularly.  A multitude of other invisible night creatures make their home in our little bit of “wild” even as the other lots in our neighborhood have been developed. The multiplicity and variety of tracks in a winter snow attest to the life that our untouched lots support.

  Development encroaches on the land, just as we did. The new and ever popular “modular” homes require the absolute stripping of every bit of vegetation in order to be delivered to the site by huge tractor trailers and  the equally huge cranes that are required to lift the modular sections onto their foundations.

On the day after Thanksgiving, my home is quiet.  There is time to reflect on the immensity of what has happened here; time to go back to The Words That Come Before All Else and feel the burden of history as I look out my window; time to mourn the unspeakable losses the People Of The First Light have endured such that I can live on a small patch of  land with woods in my view as I finish my morning tea.  

In the not terribly distant future, my husband and I will pass from this world.  Our home and our bit of land will eventually transfer to other hands - to people who may or may not hold the land as sacred.  Given the nature of development on our island, it is easy to imagine our little home being leveled and replaced by a modular structure that requires the stripping of all that we love and enjoy.

So our commitment while we are here is to honor this gift that comes at huge historical cost to so many, to protect and respect it as long as we are able, revisiting regularly The Words That Come Before All Else, remembering: “We now turn our thoughts to the Creator or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation.  Everything we need live a good life is here on Mother Earth.  For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greeting and thanks to the Creator.  Now our minds are one.” 

Vicky Hanjian

Friday, November 19, 2021



There are all kinds of hunger. One might be hungry for a big bowl of spaghetti or a piece of apple pie. Then again, one might be hungry for an embrace, a hug, a sign of love and care. One can also be hungry for peace, for justice, for critical action from governments.

Sometimes people will go hungry on purpose. It could be part of a personal spiritual quest, like fasting for a Sun Dance or like Jesus fasted in the wilderness before beginning his ministry. This is the kind of fast I’m most familiar with. There was a time I decided to fast as an act of transformation through deprivation. I would spend eating time, in weeding out. I would focus less on taking in and focus more on putting out. One such four day fast ended up being nine days, the longest in my experience.

On another occasion a friend and I started a fast anyone could join. We called it Fast for the Earth. We agreed to certain fast days every week we would personally fill, then invited other friends and interested persons to join in, so every day of the week would be filled. This continued for a year with fasters from many different countries filling each day, on one occasion with a group of 50 plus joining us from India.

Fasting can be for a social purpose, like care for the Earth, and like the cause of those five young people sitting in front of the White House today. They have been on a hunger strike since October 20, calling on the President to fight for the climate provisions in his legislative proposal. You can find pictures of them surrounded by other Sunrise Movement participants with clean air, clean water signs overhead.

There is a long tradition of fasting for social change in India, best represented in the 18 different fasts of Mahatma Gandhi during his lifetime. The longest was a duration of 21 days. Gandhi would take water, sometimes with lemon juice and a bit of salt, but no solid food. Because of his visibility as a public figure committed to independence and nonviolence, the fasting was often credited with changing minds, hearts and policy. Gandhi demonstrated that taking suffering onto oneself in pursuit of a larger goal could be an agent for change.

On one visit to India, I heard of a Mumbai industrialist who had been fasting for several weeks. He was a devout Hindu for whom cattle were sacred. Yet the Prime Minister at the time, Indira Gandhi, was encouraging the sale of cattle to the Middle East in exchange for oil. Because this fast was newsworthy and making life difficult for the government, they arrested him for “attempted suicide,” then put him in the hospital and started to force-feed him. When that didn’t help, they put him in prison.

Since we were in the area a few of us decided to visit him in prison. At that point he was some forty days into his fast. I expected to see him in a bed, barely functioning. But when we were ushered into the visiting room, he came bounding in with demonstrably more energy than I had. He was the proof one needed to know we don’t live by bread alone. We left that visit believing he had several more days of fasting in him. Friends convinced him to end the fast some twenty days later, as the government had established a commission to study the matter.

One of those who visited in the prison with me that day, would become a long-term faster in his own right. Andres Thomas Conteris was arrested at the White House with others in the midst of a six week fast against the bombing of Vieques during the Clinton administration. He ended the fast after 50 days at the request of the people of Vieques.

 Conteris was back at the White House again during the Obama administration to protest the continued incarceration and force-feeding of detainees at Guantanamo. This fast lasted some seventy days and included demonstrations of the force feeding process we were using against prisoners, forcing a tube through the nose, throat and down into the stomach. It was not a visual most watchers wanted to keep and treasure.

Fasting is a spiritual discipline that can help! Instead of always blaming or harming the “other,” maybe we need a whole body, mind, spirit cleansing ourself (like 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, facing our demons). Instead of threatening or doing violence to change the social fabric, perhaps we can influence society by acts of sacrifice. Otherwise, let’s admit the message of a Jesus, a Gandhi, or a ML King is mistaken and irrelevant, and continue consuming like there is no tomorrow.  

Carl Kline

Friday, November 12, 2021

Are You Friends With Your Hands?

 Nightly temperatures have been dipping into the twenties, but at our house, we’re still enjoying tomatoes, thanks to our friend Jim and the small greenhouse he rigged up in our “pandemic victory garden." Whenever I think we’ve picked our last tomato, we end up with another dozen. We’ve been giving them away; tossing them into salads and stir-fries; making them into varieties of pasta sauce; and bagging them whole for the freezer.
This afternoon I’m back in the kitchen (which is not, I’ll remind you, my natural habitat). My mission? To reduce five more pounds of “love apples” to a basic marinara.
After blanching and peeling the tomatoes, I set them aside to rest. In a stewpot over medium heat, I soften diced onions and minced garlic in olive oil; stir in assorted herbs and spices; add a smidgen of honey to cut the acidity.
At this point, I’d usually puree the blanched tomatoes in a food processor, then combine them with the sautéed ingredients. But this time a little voice says, “Forget the machine. Just squeeze!”

So, that’s what I do: I squeeze and squish and squash every last tomato into the stewpot with my bare hands. Seeds spurt. Red pulp oozes between my fingers. I’m grinning as the big pot fills.
After several hours of simmering, the marinara is done. I sample it with a wooden spoon. This batch of sauce doesn’t taste much different from earlier ones, but it’s by far my favorite. I made it with my hands.


A few days ago, my family would have celebrated my dad’s 84th birthday, had we not lost him in the pandemic. I distinctly remember his hands, our last visit, around a year before he died: an old farmer’s hands, stiff and swollen, pale from poor circulation. Neuropathy had robbed them of feeling; it also produced intense burning pain that no drug seemed to ease. Dad sat in his wheelchair, stroking them, his

fingers like thick sticks. Sometimes he’d moan.
“You want me to put some lotion on your hands?” I said, having seen my mother do this, trying to relieve his suffering.
He wasn’t a man who asked for help. Nor was he eager to say “yes” when help was offered. In his mind, a man should be self-reliant and provide for others, even if he’s confined to a wheelchair.
But I understood the look he gave me.
I applied the lotion as gently as I could, afraid of hurting him more, though I knew his diseased hands were numb. There was nothing magical or medicinal in that liquid. Yet, the intimacy of our touching proved a powerful remedy.
Dad couldn’t feel the lotion on his skin. He couldn’t feel me massaging it into his hard, inflexible hands. But, as I tended him, I could see that he felt the strength of my love. That was enough. For a few blessed minutes, he relaxed. 

* * *
Is your house, like mine, full of machines and gadgets? Food processor, mixer, blender, coffee maker, dishwasher, computer, cell phone, chargers, vacuum, floor cleaner, cordless drill and screwdriver … that’s just the start of my very long list. How long is yours?

All these things have purpose; when properly used, they’re beneficial. They make my life easier.
Yet, maybe they make my life too easy. Maybe they alienate me from my wondrously capable hands.
Machines and gadgets have cheapened my hands, humbled them into worshippers of plugs; grippers of handles and wheels; turners of knobs and switches; pressers and punchers of buttons; swipers of screens….
You and I can activate or operate an increasing number of machines without touching them at all. The mere sound of a voice is enough to run them.
Now, don’t get me wrong—I appreciate machines. But at what cost do I use them, day in and day out, my hands falling out of practice? By relying on devices to do so much of my work, how much do I deprive myself of sensory awareness, pleasure, and gratitude? By allowing my hands to become strangers to myself, do I become less inclined to touch others? And does how I touch them change?

This is what I kept mulling, while crushing those tomatoes.
“Hands,” I said, “we need to get reacquainted.”
I don’t intend to give up my machines and gadgets. But I do intend to be more mindful of how I use them, and how often. I’ll watch for more opportunities to slow down; to do more activities by hand.
By befriending my hands, I'll better prepare them to touch someone who, like Dad when I last saw him, desperately needs a soothing caress.

“Hands,” I say, “how about we make some pasta for all that sauce?”

Deep peace, 

Phyllis Cole Dai

This post first appeared in a recent issue of Staying Power, Phyllis’s weekly care package for creative, compassionate spirits. Get a boost in your inbox!

Friday, November 5, 2021

 Living Powerless

We hadn’t been paying very close attention to the weather forecasts.  Quite often there will be a lot of excitement for a few days about the prediction of a coming storm, a flurry of preparation, jugs of water stored, extra batteries in place, outdoor furniture put away or tied down and so on.  And the storm never materializes as predicted.

So we felt pretty relaxed.

At about 2 AM (my guess) on Wednesday morning, I awoke to the sound of someone hitting the house with a baseball bat, the sound of a roaring train, and to a darkness beyond dark.  The digital clock in our bedroom was blank, no reassuring red numbers to assure me of the time and alerting me to the fact that we had lost electrical power.  A loud crack like a gunshot somewhere in the neighborhood. A tree down?  A transformer hit?

Nothing to do…back to sleep, albeit somewhat fitfully as the noise did not abate.

We awoke early to a chilly house, - - no power, no heat, no hot water and still, the darkness beyond dark with no idea what time it was.

This storm had definitely materialized.

We scrambled around for candles and an oil lamp and blessed everything that is holy that we have a gas stove and we could light the burners with a match in the absence of the electronic ignition we depend on.  We have had years of camping experience, so once the initial “now what do we do?”  abated, we managed to put together a hot breakfast, already mindful of not opening and closing the refrigerator too often, just in case the power didn’t return in a timely way.

Trying to put a positive spin on things as the wind roared and the rain poured, we gave thanks for our sturdy cabin, our candle supply and matches, our warm sweaters and the ability to boil water.  We live close to the island hospital and had always assumed that we were on the hospital “grid” because we have never lost power for more than an hour or two in even the worst of storms.  Perhaps erroneous thinking?

By Thursday morning, the need for a hot shower was becoming apparent.  The neighboring street on which our son lives had power - hadn’t even lost it for more than a few minutes.  So we trooped over there for hot showers and resumed a relatively normal day otherwise - reading, doing jigsaw puzzles, phoning friends to check on their well-being.  Being without power meant no WiFi, no TV, no radio, no phone answering machine. Except for being able to call out, we were pretty well cut off from the outside world.  (Did I mention that we don’t own a cell phone?)

I grew up in the ‘50s and life without power last week was reminiscent of those years before so much technology was available. We knew so little about what was happening beyond our local, rural neighborhood.  I couldn’t help thinking about how we were able to live with the illusion that the world was a pretty benign and peaceful place.  With poor radio reception and very little access to TV,  and only the family telephone in the center hall of the house (on a party line, no less), I enjoyed a peaceful, almost idyllic, childhood.  
Only the generator in the garage beneath the house, the overstocked pantry shelves in the basement, the collection of jugs of water at the door of the cellar stairs, the basement room set up for living space “just in case” belied the tranquillity of daily life.  And,  then, of course, there were the frequent bells in the school hallways that summoned us into the basement where there were no windows, where we curled up as small as we could with our coats over our heads.  There were posters on the walls with instructions to “duck and cover,”  to wear white or light colored clothing, to roll into a ditch at the side of the road for protection - - all symptomatic of the “Cold War” and the fear of nuclear annihilation.

Two and a half days after the storm, the power came back on again.  We blessed the EverSource utility team in our drive way as we returned from errands in town.  We booted up the computer to see what we had missed.  I did the morning dishes with hot water from the faucet.  Our enforced Sabbath was over.

The power outage renewed my mindfulness that there are whole populations on this planet who live without power, who walk miles for water clean enough for human consumption; whole populations who cannot depend on EverSource to get them up and running, who have no local hospital to attend to their health needs, whose babies die for want of simple vaccinations or medical interventions that we take for granted.

The power outage reminded me of the unspeakable imbalance of power that exists between affluent, developed countries and countries where unlimited power on the part of a few wreaks havoc among the people; the imbalance between the power of wealth and the powerlessness of extreme poverty.

Living without power for a couple of days has turned into a mindfulness exercise.  Now - I am alert for where this stimulation of consciousness will lead next.  

Meanwhile, I check for the level of power in the flashlight batteries and I renew my collection of candles…just in case.

Vicky Hanjian

Friday, October 29, 2021


 As I took my evening walk and passed a familiar spot last night, I thought of Toby. It was altogether appropriate I would think of him while walking, since he taught me how to walk. And the spot was familiar, because it was special to him.

It all started with our daughter. She brought Toby home with her one day. Perhaps her mother knew Toby was coming, but I had no clue till he appeared.  He was good looking (one might even say cute) and seemed quite friendly. So I didn’t object to his presence. Most important, he wasn’t in the habit of barking. I still have a picture in my mind of my daughter and a friend playing with him outside on the lawn that first day.

When I was growing up we never had pets, unless you counted my baby chicks, but that’s another story. I probably didn’t know this dog was coming as I likely wouldn’t have been that supportive. But once Toby was with us, I became accustomed to his presence, even enjoyed it. That was before my daughter left for college and left Toby behind. What happened to the, “I’ll take care of him” pledge, as colleges don’t seem too happy about dogs in the dormitory.  

Care-taking Toby needed to be passed on to someone else. My major responsibility became an early evening walk. This was a struggle! Toby didn’t know how to walk, at least as I understood it. If I were to describe what we did in his terms, we didn’t go on a walk, we went on a smell. Every few steps we had to stop for a smell. Or once in a great while, he got a sniff of something far off and would run like crazy to get to the next stop. In all of this, I am on the end of a leash, not one of those expanding leashes, but one that keeps you connected to the creature pulling you.

I set out on a mission to train this dog and teach him how to walk, human style. Each time he would stop for a smell I would say, “no Toby, we are walking,” and pull on the leash. He would resist, as if to say, “no Carl, we are smelling.” And so it went, for weeks on end.

Then one evening, as we passed what I now call the “familiar” spot, Toby decided to do his business there. It was at a fire hydrant. Only this time, for some reason, Toby backed up to the hydrant, climbed up it a few inches with his back legs, and dropped his dog poop at the base of the hydrant. I’d never seen such an outrageous and hilarious dog stunt in my life. It endeared me to Toby in a new way and that familiar spot saw similar activity as the weeks and months went by; always climbing with his back legs.

Our walking habits changed. I waited for a smell. Toby responded to a gentle tug. We walked more in harmony. I quit worrying about how long it would take to get where we were going. I quit trying to “train” Toby to walk like a hurried and harried human. He acknowledged my attention and gentleness with new found responsiveness.

Another thing changed. Toby started to look at me. I mean really look at me, eye to eye. When he wanted to walk, when he wanted my attention for something, anything, he would simply come over to me and look at me. I could be reading the paper. He would just stand there, no barking, till I realized he was looking at me and gave him my attention. He modeled patience and persistence; always good traits for humans as well as dogs.

What is it about our relationship to other than human creatures, that speaks of connection, of intimacy, of common origin? How is it we can eye each other and see deeply? How is it that watching them, we humans can learn to fly, to swim, to walk?

I’ve learned how to walk from Toby. You might say I amble. There’s no great hurry! It’s OK to smell and gaze and be in awareness of the world around you. But perhaps I learned something even more significant. Animal or human, we do best when we befriend another when they operate on a different wavelength than us; rather than trying to change them to ours. It’s as simple as saying, we can learn too, and even a dog can teach us. 

Carl Kline

Friday, October 22, 2021


There’s a storage area under the eaves that has been receiving my outdated letters and papers for somewhere around forty years. Since it’s obvious at this point in my life historians will not be pondering over all of my old personal records, the sluggish process of disposing of boxes of files has begun. In some instances, I find myself thinking, “why in heavens name did I save that?”

Not so the most recent box. It has taken me several days, working sporadically, to empty it. The box contained old correspondence. Most of the letters, post cards, Christmas missives, thank you’s and miscellaneous announcements and invitations were disposable, after they were carefully reviewed. It has been an adventure into the past.   

One thing was quickly obvious. People communicated in letters. Some of the eight and ten page letters I had to save, simply to prove to others that people used to put the pen to paper to share what they were doing and thinking.

It’s not like today, where we’re lucky to get an email with more than a paragraph or two. Since I’ve had a computer, I can only think of two lengthy emails I’ve received, like personal letters. These days, if you really want to find out what’s going on in the life of another, you need to plan a time for Zoom or Skype or some manner of virtual engagement. That’s even true for those friends and acquaintances a world away.

Mail between the U.S. and India used to take weeks. I’d be home before my wife would receive the post card I sent from Delhi three weeks earlier. Now, I don’t get any of those old blue airmail letters from friends in India. I don’t even know if those materials exist in 2021. You wrote on one side of the thin paper and folded it so the address could be placed on the other side, and the sticky stuff was right there waiting for your saliva to seal it. It was surprising how small a person could write and how much could be said on one thin page; that sometimes slipped over onto the back where all could see it. I’ve had to save a few of those letters, just so the great grandkids will believe me.

There were so many letters in my box that began, “I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to write.” Then they would say how they started a letter several times before, but weren’t quite sure they were ready. They didn’t know if their thoughts were all together or if they had the words yet to say it well. It made you realize that this was an important missive. There was something of importance they wanted to communicate and you were a trusted receiver. In most cases the assumption of import was accurate, as they wrote about critical life happenings or decisions. Sometimes it’s easier to put personal things down on paper that are harder to communicate in person.  

Some correspondents made their own envelopes out of all manner of creative material: a colorful magazine picture; a recent event poster; a paper sack; an old photograph. Another would always send a home made card out of thick paper, with a picture of a flower she had taken on the cover.

Even though years have passed, reading those twenty and thirty year old letters made me wonder, “where are they now? I know he’s not in Zimbabwe; is she still in Germany?” It even led me to do a couple of internet searches, without success. I guess you need more recent personal knowledge than something thirty years old.               

There were several surprises in the box. One was a letter from my older brother about the distribution of my father’s ashes. That was long forgotten. Another was an envelope with two drawings of owls, a special bird for me and known only by close friends; but I don’t know who drew them. Many of the longest and most revealing letters came from participants in intercultural education programs I led in India or Native American communities here in South Dakota. It made me realize how three weeks of living and learning together in new and different cultural settings can have a profound affect on a person and deepen relationships with others.
In the end, that was my primary reminder from the correspondence box. As we live in a culture that is always asking more of us, keeping us busy with the work of accumulation, it’s helpful to get away with others into a different space, where we can observe and be still. Good learning environments enable us to offer, not take! And good relationships require time and space, and sometimes the written word.

Carl Kline

Friday, October 15, 2021

Sheh'hecheyanu Moments


I’ve been enjoying sheh’hecheyanu moments more consciously over the last couple of weeks - those “first time since COVID” moments that simply invite gratitude and blessing.

The first time  since the beginning of the pandemic that our small family gathered for dinner indoors around our dining room table; the first time in a year and a half, walking into our beloved neighbor’s home vaccinated and unmasked, for a few shared moments over tea; the joyful reunion of our Torah study group, resuming our weekly pot-luck supper and sacred conversation.

Until we “lost it”  I had always taken for granted the central role that “table fellowship” has always played in the well-being of our lives - - the simple act of eating together  with others and conversing around a common table.  ZOOM has filled the gaps in many ways, keeping us connected with family and friends while it seemed so unsafe to gather together in person. I thought we coped pretty well with life on the small screen.  But the joy I felt as I welcomed real live human beings in real time into our kitchen made the  ZOOM connections feel pale by comparison.

ZOOM kept us well connected with our various faith communities - Shabbat services on Friday evening and Saturday morning, Sunday morning worship, Buddhist meditation on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings.  We did not lack for sustaining, nourishing spiritual connection.

But then there was the first Friday evening beach service - - in person!  And then the first Shabbat morning service in the synagogue - in person!  The first time we entered the church sanctuary on a Sunday morning -masked, vaccinated, socially distanced - - in person!

With each encounter there were the slight hesitancies.  Mask?  No mask?  Hugs?  No hugs?  Fist bumps? Elbow bumps?  Hip bumps? Handshakes?  Each encounter a “first time” event to be joyfully (and carefully) celebrated with gratitude.

So a pronounced sense of joy and gratitude blossoms with each renewed connection as we learn to navigate on the big open screen of life again.

“Coming out” of the most intense time of the pandemic is a slow and tender process.  We are still all at very different comfort levels regarding masking, social distancing, vaccinating, touching…
Each encounter brings an opportunity for gracious loving respect of one another as we find our way through  these tenuous “re-openings” in our lives.

Until I lost it, I did not know or recognize the depth of soul connection that happens around shared food and fellowship.  I began to understand in an ever more real way the meaning and centrality of table fellowship in the portrayals of Jesus in the gospels.  I feel a different connection with the meaning of the sharing of food with the multitudes, with the “dinner at home” scenario in the home of Mary and Martha, with Jesus at dinner with a despised tax collector, with the 12 gathered together for a final meal with their Beloved Teacher.

Then of course there is the soul connection that happens during Kiddush following Shabbat services as we harmonize in blessing the Holy One who brings forth bread and the fruit of the vine.  The ritual gets translated into Christian terms on the first Sunday of each month in our congregation - and the richness of communion, table fellowship, in person, draws us together in new ways, deeper in meaning than was even possible pre-COVID.

So many “first time” moments as we measure time from the beginning of the pandemic.

So it is appropriate to bless these moments, even moment to moment, as we celebrate each familiar experience new, for the first time, with joy and gratitude.

Sheh’hecheyanu - - a brakha or blessing for celebrating the first time in the cycle of a year or in one’s life that a special event occurs.  This blessing helps us to feel deep gratitude and to  celebrate new experiences.  Indeed, each moment of “coming out” of the worst of the pandemic is an invitation to bless the Source of Life: Baruch atah adonai, eloheynu melech ha’olam, sheh’hecheyanu, v’kiy’manu, v’higiyanu la’zman ha’zeh.   Blessed are you, Sovereign of all the Worlds, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this time.  

Vicky Hanjian

Friday, October 8, 2021

"Pooh and Piglet"

 I sat with him earlier this week. Grief permeated the room. He had experienced the death by drowning of a long time friend and house guest the week before.  The story spun out.  “We were out kayaking.  The sun was warm.   We decided to beach the kayaks and go for a swim.  The ocean looked calm enough - inviting.  Not in the water 5 minutes and a strong rip current started to pull us out.  I had been in rip currents before and knew not to panic. Even after so many years of friendship, I didn’t know my friend was not a strong swimmer. I shouted to him not to panic…to roll over on his back and let the water carry him…we could swim parallel to the shore and make our way out of the current. Fear took over. I got to him…tried to keep him afloat…the waves kept washing over us…his face turned gray…he rolled over - face into the water…I knew he was gone…I held on to him as long as I could…had to let go and head for shore for help…all too late.  I was his host. I was responsible for his safety.  I am in such a dark place now…I  should have known…I am responsible.”

Loving friends bring food.  Texts of condolence keep “pinging.”  Well-meaning folks say “You are not to blame…it was an accident…you did everything you could.”  

Not helpful.  When I ask what message I might convey to people who want to visit or call my friend says “Just tell them not to say ‘You are not to blame.’ It makes things worse.”

For two hours, we sat and talked, or, rather my friend talked and I listened, as he poured out his anguish at the loss of his dear friend. He had held his friend in his arms and watched him die. In the very center of his personal truth, he felt responsible for his friend’s life and for his death. And, indeed, to say “You are not to blame” only inflamed the terrible wounding - - not permitting him to feel the darkest depths of his pain within the safe surround of another human being.  How courageous of him to be able to say how much the denial of his truth further wounded him.

I wondered about how often I might have said something similar, perhaps attempting to make myself more comfortable in the face of unspeakable suffering.  Knowing my friend’s truth made it all the more possible to sit with him in his ash heap without feeling like I needed to make him or myself feel better.  To be able to sit in silence in the darkest truth is a gracious gift.  I came away blessing him for the time we shared.

As I was leaving his home, he said “You are Pooh and Piglet.”   I must have looked a bit startled.  He explained about the story of Winnie The Pooh and Piglet visiting their gloom and doom donkey friend Eeyore.  Eeyore was not having a good day and was not good company.  Pooh and Piglet just sat with him.  And little by little, Eeyore began to feel a little better.

A new honorific to be sure - - “Pooh and Piglet.”

On waking this morning, I began to make my own meaning of the event as my friend had described it.   He had done three most holy acts of Being in the rough waters of the rip current.  He was Presence for his friend at the risk of his own life - Presence for his friend to the end.  He was generous Unconditional Love - not withdrawing Presence until it was clear that it was no longer needed. He was Witness to his friend’s passing.  His friend did not die alone.  He died in loving arms. His friend’s story would be told back on land to those who waited.

States of Being: Presence…Witness…Unconditional Love.  

As I carried these early morning insights into the day, it was with a clearer sense of how to simply Be in the world: Present - - Witnessing - - Loving without Condition - - maybe just one moment at a time would be quite manageable.

Vicky Hanjian