A Daily Message

At least I’m not that bad

Dear Hope Nation, Part Two of Three Yesterday I introduced the notion of oceanic feeling, the sense of being in the hand of the gods (or God) and the universe. This feeling, I believe, is central to all religious experience, and those of us who have inherited the ability to taste this now and then…

One of three - Stream or Ocean

Dear Hope Nation, Part One of Three My most interesting conversations take place at recovery meetings of one flavor or another. Last night I was involved in a discussion with another guy about water—not about drinking water, not about water rights, not even about its composition. (Because we are both roughly educated men, we knew…

Not mining for catastrophe

Dear Hope Nation, The other day I was in an all-recovery meeting, talking about how one extracts good from evil. That is, how can evil experiences be transformed to lessons, comfort or wisdom? Anyone who’s ever eaten an unripe avocado knows how bitter that fruit can be, yet given time, the avocado is smooth and,…

I'm not there yet

Dear Hope Nation, Since the nights of broken glass began back in April, Hope has taken a whole bunch of steps to try to prevent further damage and to catch the thrower. In addition to using Families in Transitions’ cameras, reporting to the Manchester Police Department and conducting our own drive-bys at unusual times of…

Dear Hope Nation, Another day, another two broken windows. Another day, another senseless attack. Another day, another chance to experience anger and sorrow. Another day, another opportunity to practice serenity. God, grant me Reinhold Niebuhr, the American theologian, wrote Moral Man and Immoral Society, one of my favorite books in seminary. The basic thesis is…

Feedback is always welcome

Dear Hope Nation, I’ve tried my hand at a lot of different kinds of writing, generally with only passing success. From journalism to essays to short stories to poetry to songwriting to novels, I’ve completed some works of which I’ve been proud and a number which I’m just glad to be done with. Throughout this…

Just another bozo on the bus

Dear Hope Nation, Church sanctuaries held wisdom for me as a boy. It may have been wisdom I didn’t understand, and certainly couldn’t apply to my life, but when I went into the sanctuary of the Durham Community Church, I assumed the Reverend Novotny had a pathway to God and therefore some genuine wisdom. I…

The power of optimism

Dear Hope Nation, I started writing a beautiful, wise and insightful letter a little while ago. Unfortunately, it looked at burial practices in Colonial America for three distinct groups: suicides, drunkards and duelists. These personae non grata (“people without grace,” a phrase that is spot on here) could not be buried in the same space…

Playful, yes, but also nutritious

Dear Hope Nation, I’ve always got more ideas to write about than time to do so. While these letters have been, mainly, a pleasure to write each day, they don’t offer the chance to clean my desktop of unrelated ideas, which pile up like newspapers by a vacationing family’s door. Much like my experience with…