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Self-Respect

Dear Editor: When my “article” called Pride was edited to appear as a “letter,” I felt an essential something was missing. Someone once remarked “You must be very proud of your children.” I responded, “No. For them I feel love, respect, enjoyment, sympathy. Not Pride, which I have long understood as the deadliest sin.”

On Family (September 2014)

Quaker Culture: Environmental Awareness

[Friends are not sufficiently] sensitized to environmental issues, and the result has been that we are now only slightly more awake to their significance than the average American . . . [As] individuals, many of us have become involved with environmental organizations, or have spoken out on special concerns within the environmental arena. But we have failed to see the overall magnitude and urgency of the environmental crisis . . . We have failed to see that the environmental crisis has a towering spiritual dimension, which must be addressed if the crisis is to be resolved . . .

On Garbage (November 2017)

Self-Compassion and Quakers

Like many others, I was drawn to the Religious Society of Friends by its compassionate work with people in need. As an undergraduate in the 1960s, I witnessed that compassion first-hand by participating in several AFSC projects, including visiting mental-hospital patients in the Bay Area and working with disadvantaged children during Freedom Summer in Memphis, Tennessee. Those experiences inspired my later career as a child psychologist. Yet almost from the beginning, I have found it difficult to live up to Friends’ idealism; and over the years, I have grown to perceive among Friends a hidden, unmet need – for self-compassion.

On Mixture (November 2018)

Forging a Relationship with Self

When I was a child, I craved quiet places where I could be alone with my feelings. Sometimes I would go along the side of the house where camellia and pomegranate grew or down the stone steps to a small orchard under a tangerine tree in full fruit. Later in life, when I was old enough to be trusted, I would venture to a meadow and lie down in the tall grasses or climb high in a tree. Each of these places offered an essential opportunity to experience my inner being. [pullquote]Children have access to this “still small voice” in nature, preferably alone, where they can connect with their dreams and harness themselves for disappointment, which will surely come in life.[/pullquote]

On Place (May 2022)

Quaker Water

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?” – David Foster Wallace, This is Water (2009)

On Insight (March 2017)

Ego, Imagination, Condition, and Light

Friends use the word Light a lot.  They use it as a metaphor to point towards an experience.  But Friends use this basic expression so casually that I fear it has become conventional and trivial. We don’t much think about what the Light (as experience) means or where it comes from or why we need it. Nor are we aware of how we got into the dark in the first place. Like many metaphors, Light is better understood when it is placed in a context. My experience is that ego, imagination, and condition are factors that provide a helpful context for considering the Light.

On Pride (July 2014)