It was summer in San Francisco. Hundreds of us had marched to City Hall for a protest. As the afternoon was ending and the rally was winding down, a cold fog blew in. The final speaker jammed the mike against his mouth to blast out a warning: “If you don’t have hope you won’t do anything!”
His tone of contempt implied: “And if you don’t do anything, you won’t be anybody, not anybody worth caring about.”
I shrank into my jacket, not wanting him to spot me because I don’t have hope. Cheers broke out all around and I shrank…
Dogs barking echoes
into the woods
as twilight comes then goes dark.
I pace the square
inside my cabin.
Dogs barking up the hill,
barks bouncing off the moon,
falling back down,
landing in the leaf litter softly.
I ask myself for solutions,
Who? What? When?
Questions that hit the wall hard
and fall empty to the floor.
Dogs barking barks
that slam dance out in the yard.
I talk to the clock:
Move, hands, move!
Take this cup of time from me.
Dogs barking staccatos
like pointillist painters
with palettes of sound.
I fall into bed exhausted
begging the night to find for me
something I can’t find for myself.
Dogs lying all about,
spilling sawdust everywhere.
Day and night, as we broadcast TV and radio programs into our homes, we’re also beaming them into outer space, where they go traveling at the speed of light in all directions. Maybe they’ll sail on into oblivion never noticed by anyone, but what if one day on a distant planet, denizens of another civilization are able to pull in those programs and decode them?
What might they think of us as they watch our goofball sitcoms, our trashy celebrity gossip, our mean-spirited political battles, the hellish stories of our wars, and the relentless, grinding exploitation of humans by humans…
The most important work we ever do in our organizations is to deepen and strengthen our working relationships with each other.
360s are supposed to help us do better with relationships. They’re supposed to help people see their strengths so they can build on them. And they’re supposed to help people fix their problem areas, so they can do better work, and so they can be more pleasant to work with.
But in my twenty years of coaching nonprofit leaders and activists, what I’ve seen is this: too many people get their feelings hurt by conventional 360s.
And the result…
Jesus was broadly inclusive. He welcomed into his movement the outcasts of his day. He instructed his disciples to preach the Gospel everywhere — north, south, east, west.
But still he drew a line. And anyone on the other side of that line, he condemned. For example, in Mark 16:16 he said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
And if that’s not scary enough, he made the fate of outsiders more explicit in Matthew 13: 49–50, where he said: “So shall it be at the end of the world…
When I was a kid in church I was taught that my soul was invisible, immaterial, insubstantial, and incorporeal — all adjectives of nothingness. At the same time it was a divine presence. God shot it into my body at birth from his dwelling place in the heavens above, out there beyond the clouds, beyond the stratosphere where the airplanes travel. No wonder it felt cold. Outer-space cold.
“Soul” is used to mean so many things — essential self, transcendent spirit, deepest calling, driving passion, anchoring force, what makes you you, that something that survives death.
But I use it…
I used to love to tell the story about the window of opportunity. When I was young and devoted to activism, I told it to anyone who would listen.
You know how it goes. Even though we’re in mortal danger, we still have a chance to save ourselves — but only if we take action right now, no more talking, no more delays — because the window is closing and it’s closing fast. How much time have we got? That depends. Some say ten years, some twenty, some go as high as a hundred. …
Big bushy Bishop pines,
dignified attendants of the scene,
have always been at home here
wrapped in the cold and the fog
of our seaside city.
But today when the temperature
is an astounding 100 degrees Fahrenheit,
and I’m sweating through my clothing,
as I walk by them,
these trees are crackling
like logs on a winter fire.
This can’t be!
Surprise knocks my mind awry, and
okay, count me in, I like a good mystery.
But before I can get to work on it,
I see all the clues I need,
dozens of them,
tender, tiny, glistening whirlybirds,