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.

But hold on. For the introvert, Christmas heralds a nightmare of multiple social events . . .

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.

What was funny to us? I think part of it is . . .

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.

Friends said that I was thinking too small. . . .

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.

We Are Not Alone . . .

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.

The elegance of Solnit's premise ...

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.

When is it all going to turn around? . . .

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

‚ÄčIn 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.

But wonder is a very important quality of heart and mind . . .

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.

But something happened. . . .

Posted by Patricia Adams Farmer on June 14, 2019

“Everything can be taken from a [person] but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances . . . . Those who have a 'why' to live, can bear with almost any 'how.'"
— Victor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

Dear Generations X, Y, and Z:

On behalf of Baby Boomers everywhere, I offer a heartfelt apology for the planet we are leaving you. You were born on a distressed Earth in the throes of Global Warming and it's not fair. Please forgive us for our part in this unprecedented catastrophe. Our generation failed to act on what we knew was coming; we preferred to live in denial with our 401(k) plans to think about.

Every generation has much to forgive of the preceding generation. . . .

Posted by Jay McDaniel on June 10, 2019

Let's hear it for the "average" child who receives no special award on honors day: the one who stares out the window in geometry class and dreams of faraway places, having mastered the art of reverie; the one who feels abandoned by her peer group but stands up for her own convictions; the one who spends the night listening to a friend in need rather than studying for a history exam; the one who manages equipment for a football team but doesn't play football or receive recognition from the crowd; the one who studies hard and shows up for all the extra sessions but makes a C on the exam, all the while doing his best; the one who opts out of biology lab because he doesn't want to dissect frogs, knowing they are too beautiful to be murdered for dissection; the one who stays seated during the awards ceremony and somehow musters the strength of soul to clap for all the "special" people even as she feels unnoticed. Yes, let's hear it!

Aren’t these the kinds of students who partake of spiritual depth, . . .

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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.

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