“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
The last week has left me reflecting a lot on virtue: what does it look like when it shows up? I’m trying not to sink down into pondering the ugly, murky crater that is virtue’s absence. Spending too much time staring at a trainwreck of bad behaviour has never done my soul any favours: whether I feel superiority or despair, it’s the opposite of edifying. “Well THAT person has made awful choices” doesn’t exactly make me jump up and sparkle with good energy. “The world is filled with horrible people doing horrible things, hope has left the building”, makes me want to lie down and not get up.
Possibly it’s a lot more worthwhile to spend energy reflecting on the good, on what’s beautiful and righteous and dignified. I don’t mean empty Pollyanna daydreams, either (they annoy me in a similarly lie-down-forever kind of way). I mean the kind of right-doing that makes me want to get up and fight for the same cause. Continue reading
Florence Foster Jenkins has been called “The World’s Worst Opera Singer”. In the early 1900s, she was a patron of the arts in New York City who made vanity recordings and gave (self-sponsored) concerts in places like Carnegie Hall. (Ironically, her real first name was an homage to the original poster boy of vanity. It was Narcissa).
Unencumbered by either social constraint or artistic inhibition, Foster Jenkins barrelled onto the stage driven by what can only be regarded as pure joy. She embraced theatricality with gusto. She made her own glittery costumes, sported massive feathery wings, threw flowers, and favoured being lowered from theatre ceilings by rope and pulley. Going home seemed never to have been an option for Florence Foster Jenkins; she went big. Continue reading
The events of the past couple of weeks have left many of us utterly heartbroken. This world we live in seems to be starving for peace. We’ve been experiencing waves of rage and grief at the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, of the five officers in Dallas, the attacks in Baghdad and Bangladesh, the attack on Bastille Day revellers in Nice. It seems endless. It gave me pause when I realized that that list only encompassed the tragedies so far this month. How can we retain any shred of hope?