Dear Friends,

As we build the Beloved Community, we pray for you every day that you might continue to bring it about in your little corner of the world.

Today's Meditation is a reflection by Carrie Newcomer about "Old Photographs: As Cute as We Knew How to Be."

We invite you to join us as we commit ourselves to working tirelessly to end systemic and structural racism in our society, in the church, in healthcare, in the workplace--wherever it shows up so that everyone may come to have more abundant life. May this meditation nourish our contemplative-active hearts and sustain all of us in action.

In the spirit of our philosophy of co-creating community and our awareness that the Spirit speaks through each of us, we invite you to share your meditations with us as well. We truly believe that it is God's economy of abundance: when we share our blessings, our thoughts, our feelings, we are all made richer.

We hope and pray that you find peace, healing, hope and the infusion of joy in your life!

With our love and care,

Ron and Jean

MEDITATION: Carrie Newcomer: Old Photographs--As Cute as We Knew How to Be

Old Photographs - As Cute As We Knew How To Be

Old Photographs: As Cute As We Knew How To Be -Sunday Post

I’m currently reading a book that discusses the six generations currently represented in our culture: Silents, Boomers, Gen X, Millienals, Gen Z & Polars-considering each generation’s experience, the cultural earthquakes and challenges, leaps in technology that have informed how we frame our place in the world. Generalizations are always fraught and incomplete. But it has encouraged me to think about how the unfolding of a life can be uniquely effected by the culture and times, but also how there is so much wisdom to be shared with those younger or older than ourselves. Bumping into these earlier (and current) versions of myself has given me pause and asked me to step back and see myself, and the human journey toward becoming) with tenderness and compassion -then and now.

There are two things I have noticed when encountering all those earlier and current versions of myself as of late. The first, was seeing the thread I was following, even when I didn’t know I was following it. In The History of Rain by Niall Williams the main character describes her father’s poet heart as “poets do not escape into other worlds, they go deeper into this one. But because the depths can also be terrifying, there is a cost.” Most of us are born with newly tuned antenna, our birthright gift for beholding and dazzlement. We sense the thread of who we are by nature and lean in. But other voices get in the way. The world tells us we’re not enough, we are too much or too little, it tells us our hearts are mistaken and our eyes see things strangely. It takes awhile to clear away the rubble from the road. It takes some intentional listening to fine tune the radio dial and get beyond the static to hear the voice of the soul’s deep imperative. We fine tune with prayer and meditation, time in the natural world, art, music, silence, therapy, braving some crazy hard stuff, unabashed joy and quiet gratitude..and all those blessed conversations with trusted friends and occasionally our own inner teacher. In all those photos, I was following a thread, in fits and starts, in small steps and arm swinging leap. In that box were images of me with my first dog, with my daughter and her first two wheeled bike, sitting with my flashy-earring grandma and my making-noodles grandmother. There was also a photo of me singing, unselfconscious, totally true, all the brush and rubble, at least for the moment, swept away. There I was, following the thread, picking up the melody and humming along.

How interesting it is to know that when I’ve cleared away the noise, there has always been a thread I was born to follow. How curious yet comforting it is to realize I am still following that thread, picking up the melody and humming toward who I am becoming.

The second thing I’ve noticed is a softening toward my younger self and the kindnesses and cruelties of the world she inhabited. I see an old photo and feel quite tender for how unacceptable that younger version of me felt in that former moment, before I learned compassion for the true gift it is, the essentialness of it, the power of it —not just for others, but even for myself. I appreciate this softening for the miracle it is and the transformation it requires. I have always had the impossible longings of a poet, that fervent desire to make the world better starting with myself, demanding a kind of perfection that would always be beyond my grasp. But now, although I still work to “perfect” a lyric, a song, a garden, love made visible in the world, I gratefully notice that I do so with a greater sense of allowance and a softer sense of humor.

I have softened not just toward the world, but toward myself. And that could not have happened without a whole lot of that cosmic intervention, which makes me humble, and keeps me really really grateful.

I remember sitting with a friend and looking at a bunch of her old photos. We were laughing at the shoulder padded jackets, all the bling and eye liner. Finally she looked at me and said, “Honey, I was just being as cute as I knew how to be.” I hugged her…yes, we were just being as cute as we knew how to be. We were just following the thread, the one that would spool out in the direction we most needed to go.

Wherever you are, whoever you are becoming, there is courage in knowing how far you’ve come, tenderness for the sincerity of your journey and deepest longings, and wisdom in hearing the stories of other’s experience with becoming.


What I suggest this week is you find an old photo. Sense the story around the moment. Sense the person you were becoming, and appreciate whatever you were learning at that time. Touch the edges of the photo and love all you were before and after. Take a deep breath and give yourself an “oh honey”. Give that younger you the softness and grace she needed at the time — that you are now more capable of giving her.

Then find a recent photo of yourself on your phone. Do that same process, love the person you are and who you are becoming. Appreciate what you are still learning. Give yourself another “Oh honey” with all the softness and grace you can pull up from your heart.

What I’m Reading

The History of Rain - By Niall Williams Beautiful poetic writing. I have been reading everything I can find by this author. Honestly it made me laugh and cry and wonder in the best kind of way.

Not Too Late By Rebecca Solnit

A series of essays and interviews about finding agency and hope in the time of climate change. It is timely and a new frame for our current times.

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous

My husband has been listening to this on audio book. I read it a couple of years ago, but it’s been nice to revisit with him. About adulting, becoming ourselves, and Lyle Lovett makes a wonderful appearance.

Music Recommendation

One is an older album that I’ve been revisiting lately. They had a very big impact on me when I first heard it. The other is a newer album and writer that i’ve been very much enjoying.

Heartland: An Appalachian Anthology

Stunning instrumental…the beginning of an acoustic movement. The link takes you to Spotify.

Still Life by Humbird

A beautiful album with many lovely songs by Siri Undlin. The link takes you to Spotify.

A Place of Growth - Hawktail

A beautiful instrumental album from Hawktail. A conceptual album that is a journey through the natural world.

One Inch Photos

On my front porch…Luna moths live only a few days in their winged form. It always feels like such a visitation to see one.