A JJB Video Page
Videos to Soothe the Soul
Or at least Help You Smile
Along with springboards for thought by Bradley Artson, Teri Daily, Bruce Epperly,
Patricia Adams Farmer, Christina Hutchins, Barbara Mesle, Joanna Seibert and Songhe Wang
Short videos can be windows into life's deeper meanings or lighter moments. We offer these videos in that spirit. We know that there is much sadness and suffering in our world. Much violence. It is harmful to everyone: those who suffer from it, those who inflict it, and those who hide from it. It is half the story but not the whole story. As Whitehead puts it: The Fairies Dance and Christ suffers on the cross. We must look at both sides of life to get a complete picture, avoiding the fallacy of self-absorbed melancholy and the fallacy of shallow joy. Buddhists have it right: we need to approach life with clear eyes, seeing the beauty while not hiding from the tragedy. If you want to get the larger perspective, take a look at What do Process Thinkers Believe? Or take a look at the Whiteheadian Wheel of Life below. But for now, just enjoy the beauty and the lightness. Save this page, because we'll be adding more over time.
Hearing classical music while on a train in Copenhagen
Having your husband wear a Pink Tutu
Holding Your Premature Child
Having Someone Pet You
Hearing Your Mommy's Voice for the First Time
Watching Your Husband Experience Labor
Showing Your Happy Side
Poignancy hovers around beauty like a nimbus, for the most beautiful things in life are not things at all, but moments in time—moments that we know will flow on. While the raw moment flows on into a new concrescence, we can nevertheless gather the exquisite moments like flowers and place them in the rose bowl of our memory.
So we gather up our moments, the ones most exquisite, and let them float about inside us as we savor their color, scent, and texture. Even though the memory is not the same as the moment itself—even memory is a new moment—we can store up an entire bowl of exquisite memory moments that we can enjoy later. But what if our memory fails, as it so often does? Process theology would tell us that if we forget, God still remembers. Our moments are saved in God's memory, in God's own heart. The moments we savor are paradoxically fleeting and eternal in the same divine breath. They are gone, yes, but not lost. Whitehead describes God’s nature as “tender care that nothing be lost.”
“Yes,” she said to herself, “insects are jewelry carved and polished by nature. If you look carefully at them, each of them is unique and beautiful in their own way: the patterns and colors on their bodies, the way they move, etc. Because of these natural jewels, designers get inspiration. For example, Chanel has white camellia as its trade mark; the Beetle car …” If the insects are jewelry in the world, what I want to say is that we human beings are jewels, too, and shine in our own way. We are a piece of dust in the endless universe. However, the mind in the tiny piece of dust thinks and explores the vast universe and tries to discover its secrets one by one.
Luke sees divinity bursting forth in a stable and revelation given to shepherds, people at the margins of society. There is nothing romantic about the “real lives of real shepherds,” they lived from paycheck to paycheck, dwelling outside in all weather conditions, were a bit shiftless in the public eye, and were seen as lower class by polite society. Yet, they receive an angelic visitation, which opens their eyes to a new possibility for themselves and human life. Dwelling in darkness, they have seen a great light. God’s salvation comes at the margins of life, making the margins the frontiers of a world to come.
Dear ones, I am thankful for you. & for the meadowlark who has chosen a nearby roof-ridge. For the compassionate flow of the cosmos continuing while we rest. The leading edges of storm fronts over the Pacific. For time befriended. Old growth Redwood forests & days spent among them. Coffee made by other hands. Spontaneous laughter & serious concentration of beloved children. For wooden building blocks. Pens. Paper. Eyeglasses. Maybe even for the sadnesses that tell us how deeply we stain one anothers' lives. Typewriters. Boots. Strangers and the neverbefore. Beethoven's terrible dedication to making, Alfred North Whitehead's, Judith Butler's, & the poets'. For the funny canned cranberry sauce that in a few hours will ride shotgun, a measly contribution to the most generous of feasts, but desired anyway. For breeze on bare skin & reaching to play our hair after illness. For gentlenesses of every kind.
But if we want to go deeper still, we need to learn how to savor when things go badly, too—when the warmth and chocolate and pelicans are gone, or when loved ones fail us and our insecurities rise up to mock us. This is life, too. On those dark days, when nothing seems worth salvaging, we can still practice the art of savoring, for there is something even more satisfying that deserves our mindfulness and gratitude: we can savor the One who savors us.
We don't need a reason to rejoice. We need each other. We don't need to define a specific event to celebrate; life is sufficient, both as challenge and as gift. In reserving a night to celebrate in formulaic abandon, humanity hoists a lantern which we all can share, a moment we each experience together, an elation that sweeps global humanity like a wave at a stadium of planetary proportions.
But many of us call Marjorie our beloved friend, mentor, and teacher. My stories about her are not intended to claim any unique connection to her. Many of you know her far better than I do. But I do want to claim that she has saved my life. I hug her to my heart, more closely than the passport I keep plastered to my chest when I travel. Marjorie, I celebrate your legacy in our lives.
Cooking requires a space of quiet in the soul to wonder about possibilities. Imagination and inspiration grow out this place. How do we structure our lives for this internal place bearing fertility? Shall we take a Buddhist moment and meditate on the vastness of our kitchens, on the life force pulsating, the umbilical cord of generations of humans providing, for better or worse, for the people they share a space with? Most growth begins with small steps forward. Shall we step forward together and share a meal?
Still, it is true that moments of laughter, like moments of crying, entail a dropping away of the ego, and that such moments are occasions for sharing in the playful side of a silly universe. These moments emerge not from struggle but from spontaneity. In a sense they are moments of grace: that is, moments in which we receive a free gift, not requested, that lightens the load of life, helping it become, at least for a moment, easy. It is the gift of surprise and novelty, the gift of being able to look at situations that may be difficult in alternative ways.
Our love is a cascade of caring that splashes from those who came before us to those who will follow after. As we swim in the love of our parents, friends, family, faith, we bathe those in our care for their journeys yet ahead. Love flows; pass it on. (October 30, 2013)
We all have a need to be seen for who we truly are: not our appearance, not our style or our status, but our core. Each of us is unique, each of us reflects a distinct spark of the divine. Today, I bless you to see your fellow human beings clearly through eyes of appreciation, and I bless you that you are truly seen!
Grandparents remember that children possess the ability to experience the world around them in unique ways. When I’m around Asher and Elliot, I witness first hand that Creativity is the most general notion at the base of all that is. This spring break I played a game with Elliot that I’d played with one of my college classes---creating and hurling “Shakespearean insults” at each other in fun. “Thou saucy clay-brained fustilarian” was our model. I’m not sure even I can define “fustilarian” satisfactorily, but Elliot, 4, “got” the idea. He could make up similar crazy taunts: “You carrot-headed, dirty-eared Mimi-roll-baker!”
For process theologians, these fresh possibilities are called initial aims–divine promptings within us that guide us along paths of forgiveness, mercy, and compassion, always drawing us toward the greatest healing, beauty, and wholeness available in each situation.
If you are interested in a wider context in which the experiences communicated in these videos make sense, try the Whiteheadian Wheel of Life. Humor and empathy, true grit and creative transformation, intimacy and ecstasy -- all can be part of a life well-lived. But there's really no need; the videos speak for themselves.