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At the end of June I was working on some house projects, mostly painting, including touching-up the front porch and parts of the house exterior that I could reach easily.  One day while painting I was listening to the On Being with Krista Tippett podcast.  This particular episode was an interview of poet David Whyte in which they discussed heartbreak, loss, vulnerability, aging, and youthfulness.  Here’s a link to the show and it’s transcript.

I resonated with this discussion of vulnerability:

The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability— how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate through our intimacy with disappearance. Our choice is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant, and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.

A “generous citizen of loss.”  What an interesting concept.  I do think he’s correct.  Loss, grief, heartbreak, and suffering are inherent parts of the human experience that cannot and are not to be avoided.  Life is learning how to live well with them and, even in the midst of them to discover joy and beauty and the youthfulness he mentions in the interview.

During my sabbatical I was dealing with these issues on personal, corporate, and global levels.

David Whyte’s ideas on loss I listened to that day also resonated with a marvelous book I had just completed reading–Fifth Sun: A New History of the Aztecs by Camilla Townsend.  Of their world she writes, “This was no stable world of immutable beliefs but instead a shifting, constantly altering world.”

Why, you might ask, am I reading a history of the Aztecs as part of my sabbatical reading?  A few years ago I read an online article about Aztec philosophy and how a central tenet of it is this idea that the world is ever shifting, so we have to be nimble in how we respond to it.  Since reading that, I’ve been wanting to explore Aztec thought more.  And the reading related to my larger project for this sabbatical, which was to better understand how our world is changing due to the climate warming, and what we as a community need to do in this new era to be resilient and to live well.

She writes in her intro, “Most of all, they were flexible.  As situations altered, they repeatedly proved themselves capable of adapting.  They were adept at surviving.”  Seems we have something to learn from the Aztecs.

In early June, the night before we left on our first big trip of the summer, this one to the Keweenaw Peninsula in northern Michigan, Omaha experienced a freak hailstorm.  In our part of town marble sized hail fell with heavy rain creating zero visibility and covering the ground like snowfall.  Sebastian and I happened to be inside the Baker’s grocery store on Saddle Creek.  Try to imagine how deafening the sound was on that expanse of metal roof, which we also experienced in the darkness as the power had gone out.  When we got home, the new backyard garden we had created only two weeks before was obliterated.

We traveled the next day to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to visit the family who used to be our next-door neighbors.  Their third child is one of Sebastian’s best friends.  Two years ago this family moved to the UP because of climate change.  They wanted to go someplace they could locate for future generations of their family, where the effects of warming would be minimal, where there’s abundant freshwater, and where they could buy land to live off of in case that becomes necessary.

The hailstorm was a reminder of the extreme and weird weather we are now experiencing, and which has become a regular feature of our lives and futures.

As Camilla Townsend writes about the Aztecs, “Like so many people in other times and places, they had to learn to make peace with their new reality so they would not go mad.”


421 South 36th Street, Omaha Nebraska, 68131
(Located at the corner of 36th and Harney Streets)






First Central Congregational Church