September 2010

The Terrible Beauty of War

This essay is the introduction to the Voices in Wartime Anthology.

From my childhood I lived in the middle of the idea of war, trapped between the World War II memories of my parents and my own terror of the imminence of World War III. I was born at the height of the Korean War and came to young adulthood as the Vietnam War spiraled toward its senseless and incomprehensibly bloody conclusion.

Art of Hosting story

On the last weekend of January, 2009, I spent my time with forty others on Whidbey Island, Washington at a retreat on "The Art of Hosting Conversations that Matter" -- a practice for all who aspire to learn and find new ways of working with others to create innovative and comprehensive solutions. The Art of Hosting is also a leadership practise focused on creating organizational learning, development and change through meaningful conversations that support commitment and ownership and release the power of collective intelligence.

Wise Action that Lasts

I attended the Art of Hosting retreat on Bowen Island in the fall of 2006 at a moment full of history and possibility. I have always been someone in a hurry, and I think we live in particularly urgent times. Five years after 911, in the wake of our misadventures in Iraq, we have the chaos and wreckage of a disastrous war all around us and the consequences of that war looming before us. Now, I think Americans are entering a “teachable moment”, when we may be open to new wisdom, new lessons about how to live in a troubled world and our need to heal the wounds of war.

Billy Carl Rice Plays Banjo in Heaven

My uncle Billy Carl Rice, a Baptist preacher all his life, died at the age of 79 on Wednesday, July 15th, 2009. He was one of the most kindly, pleasant, and loving people I've known, and together with his wife, my aunt Joanna Rice, he provided an important model and example for me when I was growing up. His last name, Rice, was the same as his wife's maiden name. There was no family connection going back at least a couple of centuries. but the coincidence provided opportunities for confusion. I'll always cherish my lovely Uncle Bill.

Enlightenment?

My wonderful and crazy brother-in-law Chris Paul, is a Vietnam veteran, nurse, gardener, wiseguy, masseuse, and granddad. I love him to pieces, and don't know anyone more enlightened than he.

Say "Knock, knock."

So Little Time

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My granddad was a prolific gospel songwriter,  producing scores of songs and publishing them in two volumes of revival songs. He never took a piano lesson, but composed by sitting at the big black grand piano in the living room and plunking out a simple melody and harmony with two fingers. Often his baritone voice would be accompanied by the silken yowls of his collie, Flicka.

Nicole Brodeur | A soldier fights for empathy | Seattle Times Newspaper

This is an article published a couple of years ago about Ashleigh Fortier, a Captain in the Washington State National Guard who led a military police company for a year in Iraq through some amazing and horrific experiences. She spent a day with me in a classroom with 60 young women at Forest Ridge, a Bellevue high school, telling her story and doing an amazing job of teaching about the experience and trauma of war.

The light at the tip of the candle

"Veterans are the light at the tip of the candle, illuminating the way for the whole nation. If veterans can achieve awareness, transformation, understanding, and peace, they can share with the rest of society the realities of war. And they can teach us how to make peace with ourselves and each other, so we never have to use violence to resolve conflicts again'. -- Thich Nhat Hahn