“What’s calculus?” Gwyn asked over dinner. Both Emily and I took calculus in high school but neither of us could answer, me because I’d promptly forgotten everything once I took the AP test, and Emily because how do you explain calculus to a ten-year-old? “It has to do with measuring amounts that change over time, like a car picking up speed,” Emily said. “Maybe?”
A week later the three of us were at church, about to serve a free meal, when we struck up a conversation with our pastor. Topics leapt from Gwyn’s deep skepticism about the existence of God to her passion for math. Paula said to Gwyn, “My relationship with math stopped growing when I was about your age.” Continue reading
A few years ago, I set off on a journey to the heart of Christian contemplation, both in practice and with studies. I began doing Centering Prayer, a form of meditation rooted in monasticism and the teachings of the mystics, and reading works from the mystical margins of Christian tradition—St. John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, Theresa of Avila, Bonaventure, the Patristic fathers—and sharing all this with an international contemplative community. It’s been thrilling. The work transforms me from the inside out, and will have a profound on my writing, teaching, and living for years to come.
Because I love and trust language so much, the hardest part about these past years has been my inability to talk about what I’m learning. I put down a book or return from a symposium feeling like my internal furniture has been rearranged, but I can’t say how, or why, or what. I’m a blubbering fool. Continue reading
Here’s a law of physics that every preschooler knows: To have fun on the seesaw (or I should say teeter-totter now that I’m a Minnesotan), you need two people. Movement, balance, and those joyous bumps all depend on having weight at both ends.
This is true for so much else as well! A good conversation needs two people with different opinions and a willingness to listen. A healthy relationship needs tension as well as commonality. A productive solution to any problem addresses multiple aspects of that problem. The truth itself is never singular but always sitting right in the center of paradox.
As you’ve probably guessed, I’m pondering our public rhetoric, especially around the upcoming election and in response to ongoing, systemic racism in our country. Continue reading