Shelter in Place without Shelter

As people in America and around the world are being told to shelter in place in response to the rapid spread of Covid-19, the unhoused remain exposed, without access to shelter, medical care, and are losing access to food and places to wash hands or shower. Some government officials have promised hotel vouchers or trailers, but they have been stalled, and are not reaching local municipalities. Some people among the unsheltered communities are frantic, others are becoming hopeless. People are very scared. In the past week, I’ve personally worked with families with children who had nowhere to go but the street (who thankfully are now being sheltered by a local non-profit), and a person with cancer who still has nowhere to go. In the past few months I’ve jumped on Nextdoor a number of times to support others in my community who were active in finding solutions for the local… Continue reading

Opening the Door

“We must tell ourselves the truth about who we actually are—in all of our goodness and in all of our terribleness. When we avoid telling ourselves the truth we are prey to our shadows and are subject to our fears and we project onto others the terrible parts of our selves—our capacity to do untold harm—and find them, whomever the object of our projection is, to be less human, less than ourselves.”                             Bill Denham, “Matthew [What is Justice?] IV: Compassion, a radical critique“ This week, Bill Denham’s fourth installment of his essay exploring justice was published on this site, in which he reflects through the lens of the murder of his stepson, Matthew, and the arrest ten years later of Matthew’s accused killers. The paragraph above from Denham’s writing jumps out to me. Last year, I completed a series of artwork entitled, “Opening the Door,” which features figures who… Continue reading

The Three Practices of Revolutionary Love

Valarie Kaur’s three practices of revolutionary love are especially significant in the formation of communities of justice. Justice doesn’t begin with the lawmakers, in the courts, the lawyer’s offices, the police precincts. It begins in our homes, workplaces, schools, faith centers, teams, clubs, and social groups. If you are looking at this site and thinking that your life is too busy to bring something to this effort, or wondering what you can do that would be effective, please read these practices carefully. You can fold them into your own life, now, today, no matter what is on your schedule. Once you’ve read them, jot down the three practices on a post it note and stick it on your desk or fridge – something that you see all the time. When you see them or think of them, review the situations or relationships you’re in right now to see if there… Continue reading

Take a Breath

Are you in a courtroom? an office? On the street? At your kid’s sports practice? In a classroom? Here is a meditation that can be folded into an active day, or used during time set aside for meditation. Observe the people around you and imagine how they might be breathing, how their breath sounds and feels to them right now. For each breath you take, rest your eyes on a different person, and imagine you are taking a breath with them. Notice how the air smells and feels, be present to the sounds that accompany the breath. Gradually move outward in your thoughts to imagine people who are outside of where you are. If you are sitting alone, you would start this meditation at this stage. There may be a park nearby. There could be parents, nannies, and children on the playground. Imagine a young child who is being pushed… Continue reading

Centering Prayer

People working for justice are regularly witnesses of others’ pain. Often those painful circumstances rearrange the other person’s life, or even ends it. Justice workers, and in fact all of us, need to practice self care in order to not close down, give into anger, harden, retreat, project, or attack. In speaking of justice workers, I’m thinking broadly -of police officers as well as activists; lawyers, lawmakers, prison guards, and sometimes offenders; judges, ministers, volunteers, and aid workers; artists, writers and performers who tune their work to the timbre and call justice and injustice. Centering Prayer is a daily practice in which you rest in the Presence of Love, of the Ground of Being, of God. It is a form of meditation, and a time of healing. Centering yourself daily in Love can offer a reserve of strength and a practice of letting go, a steadiness which contributes to the… Continue reading

Street Requiem

Contributed by Kim Vanderheiden A friend and I recently attended a performance of Street Requiem in Berkeley California. A fellow artist I knew was singing in it, and I had read about efforts to collect the names of the homeless who had recently died on our streets who were being remembered in it. I wanted to hear this contemporary take on a rich and powerful traditional form of music and prayer, and to hear the names of people whose paths have interwoven with mine, but I’ve never known, and who are now gone. The church in which it was held was close to the college campus and active in hosting performances and speakers of interest to the local community as well as students. My friend and I walked in among hundreds of others who were gathering. Many were seated already. We decided to try the balcony. As the orchestra warmed… Continue reading

Love is the Light of the Sight

Journey Through the Planes

The following is a teaching of the Sufi master, Hazrat Inayat Khan,  contributed by artist and Sufi retreat guide, Mary Risala Laird. “There are moral principles taught to mankind by various teachers, by many traditions, one differing from the other, which are like separate drops coming out of the fountain. But when we look at the stream, we find there is but one stream, although it turns into several drops on falling. There are many moral principles, just as many drops fall from one fountain; but there is one stream that is at the source of all, and that is love. It is love that gives birth to hope, patience, endurance, forgiveness, tolerance, and to all moral principles. All deeds of kindness and beneficence take root in the soil of the loving heart. Generosity, charity, adaptability, an accommodating nature, ever renunciation, are the offspring of love alone. The great, rare… Continue reading

Meeting Eyes

This may sound simplistic, but I try to make a conscious practice of meeting strangers’ eyes as I pass them on the street or in a hall or store or other public places. I spend most of my time in an urban area, where people are passing by each other all day and most are strangers to each other. I try to keep an openness and receptivity in my own face and eyes. If someone meets my eyes in return, I acknowledge them in some way that seems appropriate to their manner or the situation, a small smile, a nod, or sometimes just the direct and open gaze from one person to the other. Sometimes I’ve passed someone and looked and it’s seemed they’ve been crying recently. Sometimes I can see that someone is very tired. I say a silent prayer for someone who seems to be in difficulty. Many… Continue reading