Perfectionism is both a curse and a blessing. Mainly a curse, in my experience. But there is that inescapable reality that perfectionists grace our human landscape for a reason. It is my fervent hope that my accountant, my dentist, and any future surgeon who chooses to traverse the intricacies of my insides are all dyed-in-the-wool perfectionists. But even these folks whose work demands the utmost precision and who demand much of themselves as well as others — even these folks eventually need to come home, kick off their shoes, and quit being perfect.
Posted by Jay McDaniel on December 20, 2019
I have spent a lot of time in mainland China over the years, teaching process philosophy to students young and old. The youngest are in kindergarten and the oldest are in their late eighties. I’ve been thirteen times in thirteen years.
Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on December 12, 2019
"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories . . . and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time."
— Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House on the Prairie
In "The Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy," W is for Wonder. And, for many of us, Christmas is the Season of Wonder: pageants and angels and stars and potluck dinners and knitted scarves fresh off the needles. Mesmerized by twinkling lights and Advent candles piercing the darkness, it would seem that wonder just happens, descending like the Angel Gabriel, announcing good tidings.
Posted by Jay McDaniel on December 2, 2019
I am in a band, and on Halloween evening we played at one of my favorite restaurants in central Arkansas, Toad Suck Buck’s restaurant. Members of the band had an informal understanding that we might … just might … come dressed for the occasion, in costumes. I forgot all about it and came as I ordinarily would, in a cardigan sweater, slacks, and a dress shirt. As I set up, I asked a fellow band member, Allen Dixon, if he could guess who I was. He teasingly responded, Mister Rogers. We laughed.
Posted by Jay McDaniel on October 23, 2019
I was told that the most important thing in life is to be rich, powerful, and famous. What happened?
Zen and Whitehead ruined me. Zen taught me to measure my life in terms of moments of experience rather than everlasting achievements. Whitehead gave me a cosmology which said that moments are the ultimate reality of the universe. This led me to be less interested in fame, fortune, and power than society tends to expect, and more interested in who I was and how I was in the immediacy of the moment. I wanted to live with integrity, not ambition.
Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on October 9, 2019
We can then see our own suffering as a voluntary participation in the one Great Sadness of God. . . . Within this meaningful worldview, we can build something new, good, and forever original, while neither playing the victim nor making victims of others. We can be free conduits of grace into the world. — Richard Rohr
Recently, my young cat named Oliver struggled with a painful illness, and it occurred to me that my own deep sadness over his distress was something much bigger than me. Remembering a line from Franciscan priest Richard Rohr, I even found myself saying, "It is the Great Sadness." It was as if my cat's suffering was noted and felt and permeated with that same Great Sadness that mourns the death of bees, that same Great Sadness that feels the groans of refugees and hurricane victims and gun violence. Yes, that same Great Sadness feels the suffering of this tiny gray rescue cat. It is the one Great Sadness of God, a sadness that invites us to participate. And when we do, we become channels of grace to the world.
Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on September 6, 2019
In the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act.
— Rebecca Solnit
In her book Hope in the Dark, writer and activist Rebecca Solnit argues a strong and eloquent case for uncertainty. Uncertainty? But . . . no one likes that word. Don't we often remark that the worst part of waiting for news about a diagnosis or a lost dog or an unpredictable hurricane is the "uncertainty"? Today, we face serious, existential uncertainties in the larger world: Will we finally address climate change before it's too late? Is it, in fact, too late? How much more violence will we see before hate runs its present course? Will our democracy hold? All this uncertainty makes us crazy. That is, until we discover the riches inherent in uncertainty.
Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on August 13, 2019
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.
— Jack Gilbert, A Brief for the Defense
For all who feel deeply about the world, for all who mourn a planet under siege, for all who care about justice and human dignity and democracy and the welfare of the most vulnerable — these are hard times. Shocking and dispiriting days. I feel it, you feel it.
Posted by Jay McDaniel on July 29, 2019
"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it."
— Alice Walker
In the spiritual alphabet offered by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat in Spirituality and Practice, "W" is for wonder. It's not the only "quality of heart and mind" that matters. We recall the alphabet as a whole with its thirty-seven spiritual modes. Humans cannot live by wonder alone. They — we — need kindness and play, imagination and listening, gratitude and silence, yearning and devotion, plus more.
Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on July 16, 2019
"Doing nothing usually leads to the very best of something.”
— Winnie the Pooh, from the movie Christopher Robin
Once upon a time we knew how to play. We would run outside with the screen door banging behind us, grab our bike by the handlebars, and pedal off to unknown adventures. We might meet our friends, find new friends, or just be alone with imaginary ones. Play was as natural and normal as eating and sleeping.
About This Blog
Welcome to Process Musings for the spiritually curious, the creative, and the open-hearted. We, Jay McDaniel and Patricia Adams Farmer, are two bloggers from the world of process thought, inspired by the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. This multi-faith blog features articles, essays, stories, videos, and poetry which invite you to discover fresh possibilities for wholeness, creativity, and joy. Read more.