Buddha out of Bounds

For a few years now, I have shared a lovely office suite with a marvelous assortment of helping professionals, although I am the only minister in the lot. The diversity among us is impressive – we have psychiatrists, psychotherapists, couples counselors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, naturopaths, and nutritionists practicing side by side. We hail from a variety of faith traditions, including Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and that perennial favorite of ‘spiritual-but-not-religious’, in addition to other, increasingly popular hyphenated-hybrid categories. So I was startled one morning to open up the front door of our suite and come face to face with a huge Buddha head.

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Tiny’s Kindness

The sharp economic downturn took place shortly after we moved into our corner of the city, and the result was that our neighborhood was coming undone just as we were settling into it. Restaurants and stores emptied as quickly as dominoes falling up one side of the street and around down the other side. Yet the small corner diner was one of the last businesses to go, which seemed odd, given just how horrible the food was there. Since the window blinds were always drawn shut, it was hard to know when (or whether) the diner was even open, but the blinds did serve to hide an especially dreary interior from the view of passersby. Continue reading

Because it is Beautiful

In my 20s, I briefly served as the junior-most member of a church board. My implicit assignment may have been to bring new energy and a fresh outlook to bear, and while I might have done those things to a passing degree, mostly I learned an awful lot. I loved this church, my home church in Washington, DC; it was an urban congregation located in a stretch of the city blighted by the riots of the late Sixties and left fairly desolate for decades afterwards. Several of our older members would drive a ways in from distant suburbs, but the younger members tended to live within the city limits, and we were all looking to be good neighbors. Continue reading

Shades of Faith

When my nieces were younger, they were more devout than they are now. They’ve lost a good deal of their religious fervor in recent years. Part of that trend may just be developmental, a process of their moving through the necessary stages of spiritual development and personal maturation, including the highly skeptical one specific to adolescence. But I believe something else is also at play: Confirmation classes.  Those seem to break the spirit of a lot of Catholic kids these days. Continue reading

Who’s Your Guru?

Like a considerable number of women in my demographic, I’m certified as a yoga instructor, and like a portion of them, I completed my teacher training in an actual ashram. My plan was to eventually teach classes in a church basement someplace. The first yoga classes I ever took were held in St. Mark’s for a nominal fee and having such easy access to them undoubtedly changed my life for the better. Out of gratitude and a kind of evangelical zeal, I wanted to get out the word about yoga to precisely those types who would give the Hare Krishna singers a wide berth in the airport. Continue reading

No Brakes, But a Bell

After a few rainy days down at the shore, with our time there drawing to its close, the clouds finally broke, and when we saw the sunlight streaming through, my husband and I quickly borrowed a couple of bikes. Our kind hosts loaned them to us on short notice; they were serviceable seaside bicycles, scratched and a little rusted, with fat, full tires. The plan was to take them to the very end of the beach boardwalk, then turn right around for the return ride. It seemed a straightforward enough route. Continue reading

Weeds in a Pot

Embarrassed by its unkempt appearance, I decided to finally tend to my kitchen window box, which this summer had been allowed to run altogether wild. I’ve had mixed success with past plantings, the mix tending mostly toward failure.

This year, however, I took the expert advice of a professional gardener and the resident green thumb of our apartment building. I purchased evergreen ivy, treadwell mint, and a perennial, all brands of plants that could survive not only a hot season, but also me. Yet when I pulled in the window box to transplant them, I was faced with several leafy green dilemmas. You would probably call them weeds. Continue reading