Maybe most people already knew this and maybe I’m just catching up but Daniel Pink’s book has been a real insight for me.  What chance that I would take a picture of the labyrinth at Mt. Irenaeus, upload it with my Blackberry to Facebook an that it would invite a conversation that would lead me to read and listen to “A Whole New Mind.” If people like me will rule the future that’s great, but its less important to me than the fact that this book and some of the concepts in it help explain a lot about me that had puzzled me for years.

My brother is very left brained at least according to the book. He’s even got an MBA. I enrolled in an MBA program a couple of years ago and then un-enrolled before classes started because the whole idea of learning about what was being offered really didn’t appeal to me. I’ve always been the dreamer and the contemplative. I read Carlos Castaneda thirty-five years ago when few had heard of him. I remember reading Sri Chinmoy, Edgar Cayce and other mystics when I was serving in the US Navy.  It is simply amazing to have this book handed to me as it were as I’m ready to embark on more graduate learning. The program I’m entering would seem to be more left brain oriented but my own approach to learning and even educational leadership is decidedly right brained according to Daniel Pink. Whatever the outcome of my studies “A Whole New Mind” has set me on a path to look at myself and life itself with a whole new set of eyes.


Today I was reading Shipwrecked in South Carolina’s “Already Broken.” I’d been thinking about what it means to be open before, but James got me focused again. Openness is a concept which is not expressed much in education, at least I don’t remember my teachers ever directly speaking about the necessity of an open mind, but in fact there can be no learning without it. We are surrounded by openness and upon reflection it doesn’t take much thought to realize that without openness nothing could really exist. A milk glass would be of no use without an opening to hold the milk. A home would have no value without empty spaces in which to live. Autos, trains, planes all require openings and open space for utility. Walls and bulkheads are useful too, but it is the openings and openness which invite us in.

Last week one of my Facebook friends posted a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Every wall is a door.” I hadn’t thought of that at all but a simple quote and an open mind helps me to see that where I might have turned back is actually an invitation to move forward.

Who are our partners?

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany and also my brother’s 54th birthday. I called him on my drive over to Mt. Irenaeus for this morning Mass to wish him a Happy Birthday. I had sent him a couple of cards but I decided this morning that I would risk waking him on my way to Mass. Light fog and rain seem to ad to the mystical quality of holy places. Continue reading “Who are our partners?”

True Solitude

I will give you what you desire. I will lead you into solitude…Everything that touches you shall burn you, and you will draw your hand in pain, until you have withdrawn yourself from all things…Do not ask when it will be or where it will be or how it will be: On a mountain or in a prison, in a desert or in a concentration camp, or in a hospital or at Gethsemani. It does not matter. So do not ask me, because I am not going to tell you. You will not know until you are in it.  But you shall taste the true solitude of my anguish and my poverty and I shall lead you into the high places of my joy and you shall die in Me and find all things in My Mercy which has created you for this end…That you may become the brother of God and learn to know the Christ of the burnt men.–Thomas Merton, Seven Storey Mountain

These words mean more to me today than they did when I first read them twenty-nine years ago. In a few days on the Feast of the Epiphany I will mark an anniversary of another sort. It was the time of my first visit to Piffard, New York and the Abbey of the Genesee. Often I have pondered these words and over the years their meaning has changed, but they continue to animate my life and I’m grateful to Thomas Merton, the Trappist monks of Genesee Abbey and the breath that leads me forward.