Current inspirations: Loving Kindness – Sharon Salzberg; Courageous Conversations About Race – Glenn E. Singleton; The Power of Kindness – Piero Ferrucci; and France is a Feast: The Photographic Journey of Paul and Julia Child – Katie Pratt and Alex Prud’homme.
My study of Western Buddhism and mindfulness began with Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Pema Chödrön, and Thich Nhat Hanh. This led to Sharon Salzberg’s Loving Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness which my husband and I are now reading together. Salberg’s experiences and exercises for daily practice of metta kindness build my awareness of the opportunities for kindness.
I don’t believe I’m coming too late in the game even though Glenn Singleton began the Pacific Educational Group in 1992. My struggles in personal relationships, stalemated conversations about race and prejudice, and my own emotional reactions that left me feeling hurt and frustrated about racial injustice led me to his book.
Courageous Conversations describes the protocol that explores how to accept that immediate resolution probably is not going to happen but racial stamina can be developed with clear guidelines. I’m grabbing onto the idea that racial equity is not only necessary but possible. This book is opening me up to getting unstuck about tough conversations.
It’s taken me 14 months to finish this book. I know that’s far from devouring a book.
Over a year ago I heard a quote attributed to the author, Piero Ferrucci. The key word in the quote was kindness.
Kindness is a word that has been literally and figuratively at the center of our home for over two decades. It began with a small block of wood I brought home from an Omega retreat in the late 1990s. Jpg
I placed it on the kitchen table where we’d see it every day. My husband and I made a pact to be kind to people we worked with and our family and friends. This extended to acquaintances and anyone we happened to see that day. That led to asking each other and ourselves, “What does kindness look like, feel like, sound like?” Quotes from the 14th Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh gave more details.
And then this from Piero Ferrucci: “It’s all really very simple. You don’t have to choose between being kind to yourself and others. It’s one and the same.”
Well, I’m into keeping things simple. I bought the book.
I asked my friend Marya W. to read it with me. We’ve read a chapter at a time, then Zoomed every other week to share bits which inspired us and where we’ve given and received simple kindnesses. What a kindness to ourselves and to each other it has been — to listen wholeheartedly (now there’s a great word). At our next Zoom meeting we’ll finish our talks about The Power of Kindness. I haven’t quite taken over the role held by my father as the Ambassador of Compassion and Kindness. But I’m getting there.
This is my nighttime treat, a “travel” book to lull me to sleep. I enjoy the anecdotes about Paul and Julia Child’s life in France; they’re personal and entertaining. Paul Child’s poetic writings about their travels in France are satisfying complements to his black-and-white photos of Paris, Marseille, Bonn, and Oslo and inspire me to blend my writing with the thousands of photos on my laptop. This bedside reading sustains me until I can return to France again.
What’s on your reading table?
Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and her writing life. She’s retired from professional writing gigs after 30 years of teaching, coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. In retirement she writes to inspire, to connect with folks, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Ethel enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Zoom gatherings, and anywhere there’s a mic or a Zoom room.