Everyone hurts. Some have external signs they are hurting. They may have an obvious physical wound that creates pain. They may have physical limitations that make it painful to do daily tasks. They may have been injured and their body is bleeding. They may have signs of pain on their face that communicates to those around them. 

But the hurt of others may be deeply buried. A childhood abuse—the death of love—the shattered dream. Some may have deep wounds of rejection or so ridiculed as children that they feel unable to make it socially. Some may live such lonely and desperate lives with such a smile that no one around them can believe they have very little desire to continue.

Whether the hurt is obvious or hidden, it exists. And I try to remember that when I am engaged with others. Our souls are repositories of painful events and those events generally shape our reactions to what is going on around us.

Because I believe this, there are a couple of things that I try do. One is to give others the benefit of the doubt. When someone flips me off when I inadvertently cut in front of them in the car, I try to remember that they may have had a terrible day.  When someone responds angrily at something that I say or do, I try to remember that they may be speaking out of a pain about which I know  nothing.

And because I believe everyone hurts, I try to be patient with others when they are impatient with me. Their hurt may be so deep that it causes them to fear something that I say or some action that I might take. They may react rather than respond. If I am patient, I may be able to help them speak their fear and then I can approach them with tenderness are care.

When we assume that everyone hurts, being patient and giving the benefit of the doubt is a kind thing to do.


I have finally figured out what is going on.  I have winter brain.

Winter brain is like the black walnut tree’s naked stems scratching the gray cold sky. There are marks suggesting thoughts, but they don’t create clear images. I stare at them and just when it seems they might reveal themselves, a frigid wind comes along and scatters the marks. The minimalist painting won’t stay in place long enough to form a coherent thought. And the glimpses of ideas that do exist in my brain seem to go into hibernation. They refuse to be found so I can share them with others.

This brain is so different from the baroque summer brain. When it is warm, my brain is filled with little creaturely ideas racing around, chasing each other. Ideas gather in little clusters, and like an intricate baroque paining, get embellished and flow with a flourish.  The fruits hang heavy on the trees and there is plenty of low-hanging thoughts to fill the senses.  

But winter thoughts trouble me.  They cause me to feel so unproductive. Will those seminal ideas ever return?  Will I ever be able to write and share again, or will they resist filling my mind and leave it cold and empty?

But, I am tired of worrying. And I am tired of the fear that they will continue to be as illusive as a butterfly in a snow-storm. I have decided to embrace winter brain. I have decided to accept the infertile ground, to rest in the space between the scattered minimalist marks.

And in the emptiness, I will trust that the frozen earth is doing what it needs to do—protect the seeds of fruit from the snow and cold. And I have given myself to waiting—sometimes patiently and sometimes impatiently—for the thaw that will soften the hard soil and yield fresh green plants who bud with the promise of abundant fruit. When that happens, I will share what gifts I receive with those within whom I share life.


There we were—grocery shopping for the contribution we are making to the Thanksgiving gathering. And there we were with all the other shoppers from North East Indianapolis trying to get our baskets through the isles. 

And when we finished shopping we went to check out.  And, you guessed it, we faced lines—not as long as they will be tomorrow, but long enough to make us wonder, “Where are all the cashiers?”  And I did what I always do—look at other lines to see if they are going faster. And as I stand there, I crane my neck to see how fast it is moving, somehow thinking that if I could just see it and get my blood pressure up high enough it would do something to make the line move faster.

But, today I had a memory. And it helped. Today I remembered hearing a speaker once talk about standing in line at Starbucks—a long line.  And everyone was grumbling. And she just shouted out to everyone, “Hey, let’s dance!!” And she started singing and dancing and others joined in. And before she knew it, she was placing her order.

I thought of that today and wondered how much of my time is spent looking ahead hoping life will move faster and all along missing the life that is going on around me in the moment. I realized that leaning into the line and longing to be finished with the moment blinded me to those around me who might be interesting to talk with and share life with.

So, I hope I can keep this perspective in this “lining-up” season where I will be in traffic lines, checkout lines, restaurant lines. I hope I can find a song that I can dance to and open my heart to the life I am living rather than the life that I think I might live if I weren’t in line.


We have just watched history in the making. The Rosetta spacecraft  has just successfully landed a robot (Philae) on a comet 3.1 billion miles from my house. This spacecraft, launched by the European Space Agency 10 years ago, has travelled at 23,000 miles per hour and the landing is the first human object to be landed on a comet. The comet (P67) is 2.5 miles wide.

As we watched the control center for the ESA stare at their computers, waiting for news of the landing, we too were transfixed. It is incredible that humans have landed a robot on a small piece of rock some 3 billion miles away.

But, I am also fascinated at the vision, the tenacity, the cooperation and the patience this project has taken. The project was started 25 years ago. The spaceship was launched 10 years ago. During the10 year journey, the ship was put to sleep for 2.5 years to save it’s energy, only to be reawakened in January to continue it’s communication with the earth. During it’s absence from radio contact with the earth, it travelled some 2.5 billion miles.

And the project was accomplished by the cooperation of 20 different countries in Europe and support from the US, Canadian and Australian Space Agencies.

I was delighted to watch some good news. So much of what we see makes us worry about human nature. But this experience lifted my hopeful spirit. When humans care, when humans cooperate, when humans see possibilities and thousands of people cooperate to make something good happen, it is amazing what we can do. 

I know that it is naive to assume that such cooperation will happen in all areas of human concern, but this is a testimony to what humans can do if we put our minds to it.