Recently someone asked me, “What do you think of young people?” I asked, “Which one?” “In general,” he said. I said, “I think they are like they always have been. Each one is different and each one has gifts and challenges.”

One of the things that troubles me is how many of us are tempted to think “in general.” We read about people in the news or hear about people via gossip and we develop opinions about people “in general.” We make broad and sweeping statements about them. “Old people are always. . . . “  “Men always think  . . . “  “English people are  . . . .”

The truth is, no one particular person is “in general.”  Everyone I know is “in particular.” Each person I know is unique and is unlike any other person. My experience with people is that we make some important mistakes in our life when we think about people “in general.” Not all “boomers” are alike. Not all “teen-agers” are alike. What appeals to one doesn’t necessarily appeal to all.

Now, of course, people do studies and discover that a majority of people in a particular category may have a common taste in music or have a certain disposition toward religion. But the fact is, each one of those majority are also inclined toward different nuisances in their response.  And each is also capable of changing in how she/he thinks. Each has a different capacity to respond differently in unique situations. Each has a different history and a different context in which to consider their feelings and responses.

So, I want to be careful when I respond to questions like, “What do you think about young people.” I don’t want to respond i”n general.” To do so disrespects the unique and diverse creation of individual and particular differences. The world is much more interesting and people are much more mysterious if we see them as “in particular.”


I just got off the boat 24 hours ago. I was taking sailing lessons in Traverse City Bay off Lake Michigan. We were on a 39 foot yacht. My friend and I were with the Captain and another student going from port to port.  We slept on the boat, studied on the boat and practiced anchoring, saving a “crew overboard”, docking and handling sails in various kinds of wind. We sailed with the 15 knot winds, into the wind on calm waters, and in the stormy waters of 10 to 12 foot waves.(Now that was a real adventure, trying to hold the wheel and steer a course with waves rising and falling, pushing the 18000 pound vessel at will.)

But what I am feeling now is the moving sensation while standing and sitting still. It still feels like I am on the boat even after being on terra firma for these 24 hours. My head feels like it floating.

This adventure makes me aware of how the body adapts. While on the boat, I learned to move the muscles in my body to keep my balance in the rolling waves. My head learned to keep my brain relatively stable as the waters moved the body back and forth.  But, now that I am on land, the brain is taking some time to adjust to the surface under my feet not being in constant motion.

I am grateful for this feeling. It reminds me of how adaptable the human mind and body are. We can move from one environment to another and there is something in us that enables us to continue to be who we are. Our lives may change and feel as if the world has fallen apart and out of control. Winds and waves may apply their pressures.  But, humans are resilient. We are created to adapt to the constant changing reality of life itself. That is how we live and continue to flourish.

So, I feel my brain struggling to stand still.  And I am thankful.


Some people have a hard time expressing words of appreciation. They find it hard to say, “I love you.” They hesitate to tell those who matter to them what it is that they like.

We have had a couple of family deaths recently and those are really hard. One of them was sudden, one was after a long illness. As hard as each  has been, the sudden death had a dimension of unfinished business that was not as much a part of the one with the longer illness. 

When someone has been sick and suffering, there is often many hours when, sitting beside the bed we have the chance to say our love. There is something about the vulnerability of the suffering that softens the heart and causes us to express our appreciation for the life that we have shared.

When death comes suddenly, many times we have not taken the opportunity to share our tender thoughts with the one who leaves us so unexpectedly. While it may be hard to be vulnerable when we are strong, it may be even harder to wrestle with our regret over not expressing our love.

So take time away from screens and stuff that distracts you from your life. Face your fears of looking soft. Be tender. Express your tender feelings to those you care about.

And learn the language of love. Read poetry. Let Hallmark help you. Find a religious community that nurtures your compassionate self and encourages caring action. Let those around you know how much of a gift they are to you.

I don’t think you will regret it.


Today i got back in touch with my origins. Hiking in the rain, my tongue tasted the moisture which cradles and holds life. The rain, womb like in its warmth, blew onto my face, dripping from my chin. The rain sounded as a storm on the hood of my rain jacket.

Inside the rain jacket and pants sweat rolled down my back. Water, that which makes up 50-70 percent of the human body evaporates from the skin. Water, which covers over 70% of the globe, and evolutionarily the source of all human life, rained down on me and leaked out of  my skin.

I was overwhelmed with a sense of appreciation for life, a feeling that sometimes gets swallowed in the quotidian details of daily existence. I realized that much of my life I try to avoid getting out in the rain. I try to keep the water off me except when showering.  And when I do, I lose touch with the source of my  life.

As I hiked, one foot and then the other, I wanted to sing. Movies suggest that this is appropriate accompaniment for dancing in the rain. But, then I decided my singing would scare the squirrels and silence the birds. So, I simply walked, humming to myself.

I now have the rest of the day to return to my loves and my life. But, I am grateful for the moment of celebration of the origin of my life.


Caring for our bodies is about mental health.

The body remembers as much as the mind does—maybe more.  A therapist friend suggests that the body holds every wound it has ever received—not only physical wounds, but emotional wounds as well.  She believes that those wounds need to be identified with touch and released so that the flow of the body’s own rhythm can be free to be a healing presence.

The body holds all its sensations--pain and pleasure.  People who know child development suggest that the way a child is touched and cared for in the early days and years, maybe even in the uterus, profoundly affects the child’s emotional and psychological well-being the rest of the person’s life.  The body has a memory and it continues to know when it has been fed with sweet or sour touch.

So take care of the body. Nurture the five senses.  Diane Ackerman writes of human life as sensate.  She examines how the five senses function to form us.  She says, “The senses don’t just make sense of life in bold or subtle acts of clarity, they tear reality apart into vibrant morsels and reassemble them into a meaningful pattern. . . .The senses feed shards of information to the brain like microscopic pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.” (xvii)*  She goes on to says that we need to explore the textures of life because only “ghosts are pictured as literally being out of their senses.”  If we are alive and conscious, we are deeply present to our sensory selves.  In fact, we cannot be whole until and unless we operate fully present to our bodies.

Ackerman: “To understand, we have to ‘use our heads,’ meaning our minds.  Most people think of the mind as being located in the head, but the latest findings in physiology suggest that the mind doesn’t really dwell in the brain but travels the whole body on caravans of hormone and enzyme, busily making sense of the compound wonders we catalogue as touch, taste, smell, hearing, vision.”* (xix)

So, take care.

Diane Ackerman, The Natural History of the Senses