Poet Anne Sexton describes courage as “a small coal / that you kept swallowing.” It’s a powerful metaphor. As early as 1550 B.C., ancient Egyptians used a certain kind of charcoal to treat poisons and toxins. It absorbs them, renders them harmless. And so we keep swallowing the small coal of courage, so that despite […]

I am very allergic to poison ivy. All it takes is a little brush and days later I am scratching itchy blisters on my hand wondering where I even encountered the plant. One time in my teen years I chased a baseball into a big patch of it without realizing, and ended up with such […]

If you have ever entered this sanctuary through the doors right behind me, perhaps you have looked left just before passing through. If so, you will have seen a beautiful metal sculpture of the phoenix. Have you seen it? I love it because it says three things about who we are. First of all, it […]

“The beauty and mystery of this world only emerges,” says writer Orham Pamuk , “through affection, attention, interest and compassion … open your eyes wide and actually see this world by attending to its colors, details, and irony.” And then poet Mary Oliver: she says, Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell […]

I saw a bumper sticker once that said, “when you throw something away, where is away?” I’m not an expert in plastic disposal, but I spend 40 (plus) hours a week fighting energy choices that similarly assume we can take something from the earth, process it in an incredibly damaging way, use it up, and […]