Category Archives: Reflection

Feeling zen, or otherwise…

Source of inspiration: Ahmad and Fatima

Fatima and Ahmad My daughter noticed that photos of a young newlywed couple going about their daily lives have been spreading around the intertubes lately. Both have significant physical disabilities.  “This suddenly makes anything I ever complain or have issues with, seem insignificant and trivial.” You’re so right, Gilly.

Here’s a blog post that contains all the photos, titled Source of inspiration.

Poems: Got a favorite?

Goose on the Cannon River 
I took this photo yesterday morning of a lone goose slowly paddling up river past the Harvest sculpture. And it reminded me of one of my favorite poems.

The Wild Geese

Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end.  In time’s maze
over the fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves.  We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes.  Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here.  And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear.  What we need is here.

Wendell Berry (Collected Poems 1957-1982)

What’s a favorite poem of yours?

Be careful if you reject the idea of an earthquake as God’s judgment for sin

God in Judgment Yesterday’s Strib has a letter to the editor by Northfielder and frequent LoGroNo commenter, John George, on “how earthquakes can be God’s judgment for sin.” (See full text below.) I’m hoping John will chime in here with a longer explanation. 

As an atheist, it makes no sense to me, of course, and I last blogged about God’s role in natural disasters back in 2007.

But for those of you who do believe in God and who might quickly dismiss John’s assertions, consider how often you pray or participate in prayers that ask God to intercede in some way in your physical world or the physical world of others. 

Continue reading Be careful if you reject the idea of an earthquake as God’s judgment for sin

The hell with New Year’s resolutions. Instead: 6 habits. Join me

new-year Last week, I got a tweet from Brian Clark alerting me to a blog post titled The Definitive Guide to Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions by Leo Babauta, author of The Power of Less and the Zen Habits blog (follow him on Twitter). As you’ll see if you read that post, Leo’s got a new blog called 6changes dedicated to his 6 Changes Method.

The appeal of his approach was immediate to me, especially tackling one habit at a time, taking baby steps, and using ‘triggers.’ And since two of the 6 steps involve public accountability, blogging my progress makes sense. Want to join me?

Continue reading The hell with New Year’s resolutions. Instead: 6 habits. Join me

Gordon Marino and Søren Kierkegaard on the art of introspection

Gordon Marino St. Olaf professor Gordon Marino has a post that was published on the NY Times Happy Days blog on Wednesday that’s currently the #1 emailed articled on the entire NYT site. It’s called Kierkegaard on the Couch (Marino is also curator of the Hong/Kierkegaard Library at St. Olaf.) 

These days, confide to someone that you are in despair and he or she will likely suggest that you seek out professional help for your depression. While despair used to be classified as one of the seven deadly sins, it has now been medicalized and folded into the concept of clinical depression.

Continue reading Gordon Marino and Søren Kierkegaard on the art of introspection

Back to blogging: Clay Oglesbee

Clay blog sshot Clay Oglesbee, District Superintendent of the MN Methodist southeast MN region and former lead pastor at the Northfield United Methodist Church, has a new blog called Just One More Thing.

He describes the blog as “… a tool for expressing opinions, sharing thoughts and reflecting on matters of the spirit.” I consider it an atheist-friendly blog, though he likely has to deny that.

Clay’s now living in exile in Cannon Falls but occasionally sneaks into Northfield on Saturday mornings for inspiration and mood-altering chemicals at the GBM. See our other Clay-related blog posts for more.

If 59 is the new 30, that’s not half bad

GeezerXing Tom Friedman’s column yesterday, 59 Is the New 30, reinforced my oft-stated goal to live till the end of the summer of 2069 so I can celebrate the 100th anniversary of man landing on the moon (July 20, 1969) and Woodstock (August 15-18, 1969).  I’d be 119 years old – not out of the realm of possibility since centenarians are increasingly common. (Fun fact: in 2005, the “Social Security Administration extended the life expectancy tables up to age 119.”)

It doesn’t really matter if I get run over by a truck tomorrow or felled by some illness at an age when most everyone else my age is dying (80s? 90s?). And I wouldn’t want to be 119 unless I was reasonably mentally sharp.

What matters is that I’m acting now as if my life is only half over. I have six decades of experiences, learning, and accomplishments ahead of me.

No, I don’t have a bucket list. Do you? I’ve not been inclined to make one since they seem to encourage people to be more self-centered and acquisition-oriented, ie, acquiring experiences as if they were things.

Date night for long-marrieds: novelty is key. However…

47345502 The world is all atwitter (heh) over the Obama’s date nights. (NY Times: If They Can Find Time for Date Night …; LA Times: First Couple’s date night a fascination and inspiration. Jon Stewart, however, was not impressed: “How do you compete with that? Take it down a notch, dude. By the end of your term, you’re having NASA write her name on the moon in laser.”)

It turns out, it is possible to compete with that. NY Times: Reinventing Date Night for Long-Married Couples: Brain and behavior researchers say many couples are going about date night all wrong:

Simply spending quality time together is probably not enough to prevent a relationship from getting stale… The goal is to find ways to keep injecting novelty into the relationship. The activity can be as simple as trying a new restaurant or something a little more unusual or thrilling — like taking an art class or going to an amusement park. The theory is based on brain science…

Robbie WigleyIt is possible to go overboard on the novelty, however. “C’mon, honey. It’s cold, it’s windy, it’s pouring rain. Let’s go camping!” Yep, that’s my sweetie, looking like a hazmat worker but still as cute as ever, trying to keep warm and dry at Frontenac State Park on Saturday night. Let’s just say it was a memorable experience.



Guest post: Dave Blodgett, Class of ’43

[Note from Tracy: The following was posted as a comment which was held for moderation. I thought that the story merited a post of its own. Thank you, Mr. Blodgett, for writing.]

“The shocking incident happened just at six o’clock. The boys were enjoying a boat ride above the dam and came down stream at full speed . . . Whether the steering gear was at fault or the engine was not working properly seems to be a conjecture, but the swiftly raging waters drew the boat and its living load toward the brink of the dam. The launch swung around as it neared the dam and went over stern first. (continued) Continue reading Guest post: Dave Blodgett, Class of ’43