Humanum: Understanding Man and Woman

Say what you will about the Catholic Church’s teachings on human sexuality, this short video from its Humanum conference certainly has great production values. And it makes you think–about archetypes, gender, and the nature of humanity. Plus, I love the shoreline metaphor

I’d like to contrast the point of the view of the video above with that of a recent Slate article that responds to Facebook’s decision to add even more gender options for people’s profiles by decrying Facebook forcing people to choose a gender at all:

“Society’s perceived distinctions between the genders is fundamentally irrational and sexist; continuing to divvy up humans based on gender only perpetuates a power hierarchy that will always place men on top. . . The fact that I identify is male is, to my mind, as meaningless as the fact that I have green eyes. It signals—or should signal—absolutely nothing to anybody . . .”

Why Facebook’s Quest for Gender Sensitivity is Doomed

Mark Josesph Stern


Not-So-Random Quotes from a Book I’m Reading:

“Someone has notices me in my uniqueness and has expressed a desire to know me, to come closer to me, to love me.”

“Gratitude is the most fruitful way of deepening your consciousness that you are not an “accident,” but a divine choice.”

Life of the Beloved by Henri J. M. Nouwen


The Unfamiliar Language: A Scary New Frontier

There’s a fear I have – I know I am verbally gifted and very articulate in English. It’s one of the qualities I pride myself in having. But, the flip side is I’m afraid to learn a NEW language because of that initial period in which all new speakers sound dumb or silly.

Learning a new language is frightening in its own way. Fundamentally, it requires one to be OK with feeling embarrassed, laughed at, or, at an extreme, humiliated. Learning a new language, then, requires humility. It requires temporarily feeling like a child. It requires letting go of surety and competence to be thrown into an unfamiliar sea equipped with the ability to doggie paddle and no more.

And it’s worth it.

What has been your experience with new languages?

*With special assistance from D. P.

The Endless Hunger of the Natural Man

And a Man sat alone, drenched deep in sadness.

A Dramatic Scene from the movie Apacalypto

And all the animals drew near to him and said, “We do not like to see you so sad. Ask us for whatever you wish and you shall have it.”     The Man said, “I want to have good sight.” The vulture replied, “You shall have mine.” The Man said, “I want to be strong.” The jaguar said, “You shall be strong like me.” Then the Man said, “I long to know the secrets of the earth.” The serpent replied, “I will show them to you.” And so it went with all the animals. And when the Man had all the gifts that they could give, he left. Then the owl said to the other animals, “Now the Man knows much, he’ll be able to do many things. Suddenly I am afraid.” The deer said,  “The Man has all that he needs. Now his sadness will stop.” But the owl replied, “No. I saw a hole in the Man, deep like a hunger he will never fill. It is what makes him sad and what makes him want. He will go on taking and taking, until one day the World will say, ‘I am no more and I have nothing left to give.'” (Apocalypto, 2006)

The Poetry of Walking through Crowds

“A Translucent Feeling” *

I am a ghost,

 Who cuts through the crowd,

 Like a ripple deep in a teeming sea;

 Seen but unseen.


I am the shadow,

 That trails your lumbering bones,

 With the density of a phantom limb;

 Felt but unfelt


I am an echo,

 Reverberating against the walls,

 And escaping into the sky;

 Heard but unheard


A blip on the radar,

 An outlying raindrop,

 The burst from the stars

 For which you do not stop.

*With special assistance from V.Z.

On Legacy

“We’ll be washed and buried one day my girl,
And the time we were given will be left for the world.
The flesh that lived and loved will be eaten by plague,
So let the memories be good for those who stay.”

Mumford & Sons

Winter Winds


These lyrics speak to me because they bring to mind a motivation for my life–being a mentor for others, to leave the world better off for the generation that comes up behind my own.  I think we are meant to be stewards, our mortality both a limitation and a blessing.  Perhaps you, as an individual, have 70 or so years in which to leave a mark.  How will you be remembered by the people who loved you and pass through your life in both big and small ways? That our time is so brief should be, if nothing else, a great impetus to be conscious of what our action (and inaction) leaves for the people around us.

It’s a question of legacy, which at first sounds selfish.  When some people think of legacy, they think of self-named buildings that they can have constructed, a physical testimony to one’s otherwise transitory presence. Others think of their children, how their offspring’s success can reflect positively on their own life.  In a biological sense, ours children are our living extensions, repositories of the genetic material of which we are all composed.  I won’t live forever, but my child will carry my genetic heritage and pass it on.

But, in one way or another, these concepts of legacy are shallow and unnecessarily restrictive.  It humbles me, sometimes, to think of all the people I’ve ever had conversations with, all the people whom I’ve reached out to and who’ve reached out to me.  Each opportunity to connect is an invitation to another to share what insights and what gifts we were graced with.   It’s frustrating sometimes, to send out those invitations knowing that I’ll often be dealt rejection, a cold shoulder from the mass of people who are too wrapped up in themselves to reciprocate.

Yet, that is the price of kingship. I can invite you to the feast, but you may be too busy looking for things that won’t fill your hunger to even open the envelope.  And that’s OK.  Forgetting the “Nos” to continue to extend one’s hand in companionship is a sign of generosity.  This generosity of spirit is what allows us to be good stewards of our time on Earth.

What if we remembered that more often?  That our legacy isn’t built so much in the wealth or power or public recognition we accumulate, but in the ordinary moments in which we’re given the chance to lift a fellow traveler’s spirit or ease the doubt and anxiety that cloud a young person’s mind. In the end, when all else is forgotten, the small moments of kindness can change the world in unpredictable and unimaginably powerful ways.

What are some ways you leave a legacy “for those who stay?”