"Our destiny is written in the hand." —Renate Hiller
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Sherwin Nuland and The Biology of the Spirit
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Sherwin Nuland — The Biology of the Spirit

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Dr. Sherwin Nuland died this week at the age of 83. He became well-known for his first book, How We Die, which won the National Book Award in 1994. For him, pondering death was a way of wondering at life — and the infinite variety of processes that maintain human life moment to moment. He reflects on the meaning of life by way of scrupulous and elegant detail about human physiology:
“Wonder is something I share with people of deep faith. They wonder at the universe that God has created, and I wonder at the universe that nature has created. This is a sense of awe that motivates the faithful, motivates me. And when I say motivates, it provides an energy for seeking. Just as the faithful will always say, 'We are seeking,' I am seeking."
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Induced Meandering During Lent; Rufus and Miche Sing It; Photographers Wing It; Krista on The Moth; We Lean Back

by Trent Gilliss (@TrentGilliss)

Patagonia wilderness
The Lenten season began for many Christians this week with the celebration of Ash Wednesday. Guest contributor Erin Dunigan calls for a sort of "induced meandering" during this time. Her essay is a heartening reminder to pay attention to the natural world: to slow down, meander rather than rush, and allow life to sink in:
"More than giving up or self-denial, Lent, when practiced intentionally, can allow time for self-examination, reflection, and preparation. It's a time of slowing down, intentionally, so that life is given a chance to sink in, not just run off in so many directions. Induced meandering, if you will."
Definitely worth sharing with your friends and communities. Have something to contribute and enrich our understanding of one another, to prompt a dialogue, to share an image that enlivens the world around us? Keep on submitting your essays and commentaries, photos and videos.
Renate Hiller
"Our destiny is written in the hand."

These words from Renate Hiller have stuck with me all these years later as I raise my children and watch how they take in the world. This wonderful video on practicing crafts, like knitting, connects the importance of using our hands with the way in which we understand and find value in ourselves and in others. Using our hands grounds us — in work and in relationship. I'm so glad people are discovering her wisdom!
Rufus Wainwright
It’s awfully difficult not to love Rufus Wainwright and this catchy ditty (“Me and Liza”) he just released on his new “best of” album. He'd be a great conversation partner for a show, non? What do think?
Miche Braden
If Rufus doesn't suit you, try this one on for size: Axl Rose meet Miche Braden. New Orleans jazz never made rock sound so "sweet."
Girls at Black River Falls, Wisconsin
Check out the expression of this choir (?) girl on the left. Just love it. Postcards from America brings together some of the world's best photographers and defies the stereotype of photography as a solitary pursuit. You get to see this lovely -- and sometimes brutal -- cross-section of American life, like the photo above by Alessandra Sanguinetti...
Martin Parr's swimming pool
...or the following pool pic by Martin Parr. 'Tis a gift.
I can't thank Courtney Martin enough for sharing this absolutely essential read titled "Recline! Why Leaning In Is Killing Us." Rosa Brooks has penned an insightful rumination on the meaning of success. She acknowledges women's unfair burdens, men's under-recognized pressures, and children's over-scheduled lives (to name a few) -- and that each task we choose to do comes at a cost. We need to ask what is lost in pursuing success, and how, perhaps, we should lean back and reclaim the lives we want to lead:
"If we truly want gender equality, we need to challenge the assumption that more is always better, and the assumption that men don't suffer as much as women when they're exhausted and have no time for family or fun. And we need to challenge those assumptions wherever we find them, both in the workplace and in the family. Whether it's one more meeting, one more memo, one more conference, one more play date, one more soccer game or one more flute lesson for the kids, sometimes we need to say, 'Enough!'"
It requires discipline, but my wife and I carved out a few hours in the middle of the workday to attend our son's school function. We gained the smile of a child and reminded him (and ourselves) that we'll be there for him. What are you doing to reclaim a bit of the life you want to lead?

Write me by email at, or via Twitter. My handle is @TrentGilliss.
Oh, I almost forgot! As if this passport photo of Krista wasn't good enough, let me leave you with this gem. Krista's story was recently featured on The Moth Radio Hour. Take a listen (she's the second guest in the line-up) as she shares a story about her strict Southern Baptist grandfather (tenderly nicknamed Gaggy) and a reacquaintance with him years later while having her stones read in Ireland.

May the wind always be at your back.

About the Image

Photo by Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

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On Being is a spacious conversation — and an evolving media space — about the big questions at the center of human life.

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