Current Issue

Belonging: Parabola Volume 47, No. 3, Fall 2022

In the lead article in this Fall 2022 issue of Parabola, journalist Lisa Teasley writes of being “the only Black person in the room” and how for years that undermined her sense of belonging. To be denied this basic human need, an incomparable source of meaning, can be devastating—as evidenced also in Linda A. Curtis’s remembrance here of being shunned by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“What is the solution?’ asks Teasley. Many paths to belonging surface within these pages. There is a celebration by author Gilbert Friend-Jones of the spiritual companions he has found in a Benedictine monastery. Author and poet Mark Nepo inspires us to renew mind, heart, and body in order to “reconnect to the miracle of life.” Professor of dance Holly Lau explains how she found belonging in a most surprising place, at Memphis Grizzlies basketball games.

There is a universal understanding among our contributors that we all belong somewhere. As philosopher Glenn Aparicio Parry illuminates in his interview here, the earth itself embraces us and vibrates through us. Locked in a prison cell, Oscar Wilde yearns for Nature, “whose sweet rains fall on just and unjust unlike.” Rabbi Nahum Ward-Lev explores biblical covenant to show that God and humanity belong to one another, while Parabola’s digital editor, Surnaí Molloy, demonstrates how she, and thus we, can make any place our own through attention and heart. 

An ultimate odyssey of belonging is that of Issan Dorsey, remembered here in a compelling excerpt from David Schneider’s book Street Zen. Once a drag queen, gay prostitute, junkie, and commune leader, Issan took LSD, found Buddhism, and rose to the abbotship of San Francisco’s Hartford Street Zen Center. Rather than reject his past, he accepted it with compassion, founding a major AIDS hospice at the center. 

Issan belonged. So do we all. May this issue help you find and sustain your place in our world.


We at Parabola mourn the passing of our senior editor and good friend Christopher Bamford (1943-2022).

—Jeff Zaleski

table of contents

The Only Black Person in the Room  Lisa Teasley
What that means and how that feels

Issan Ascends to the Mountain Seat  David Schneider
The former drag queen/prostitute/drug addict finds
their place

The Night of the Hessian Soldier  Tracy Cochran
A haunted inn inspires deeper questions

Coming Home  Gilbert Friend-Jones
Companionship among the Benedictines

East Hill Farm  Jonathan James 
A leap of faith into an “intentional” community

Returning to the Center  Mark Nepo
Becoming who we are

Arrernte Land  Karen Lethlean  
A child visits her ancestral land

Shunned  Linda A. Curtis 
Excommunicated from the Jehovah’s Witnesses

How to Think about Thinking  Alan Watts
The spiritual pioneer on enjoying mind and life

To Hold One’s Own  Surnaí Molloy
Making the world her own

The Hermit Who Became Pope  Mary A. Osborne
The strange and wonderful odyssey of Peter Morrone

Covenant: A New Understanding  Nahum Ward-Lev
How God and humanity belong to one another

This Vibrating Land  David R. Kopacz, M.D.
An inspiring conversation with philosopher and educator Glenn Aparicio Parry

This Wicked Vice  Benedict of Nursia 
Saint Benedict on personal belongings

Zen and the Basketball Arena  Holly Lau
Embracing team spirit

The Village  Henry David Thoreau 
Not all his time was spent at Walden Pond

She Will Hang the Night with Stars  Oscar Wilde
From his prison cell, he dreams of Nature’s solace


Incandescent: The Love Story of  Surya, God of the Sun,
and Sajana, the Cosmic Architect’s Daughter
Retold by Nartana Premachandra
Anonymous / Hindu


Sunset  Rainer Maria Rilke

Song of Myself  Walt Whitman

A Birthday  Christina Rossetti

Allah Wa Ana  Ameen Rihani

When thou shalt be dispos’d to set me light  William Shakespeare

This is my letter to the World  Emily Dickinson

book review

Time is a Mother Ocean Vuong / reviewed by Z.G. Tomazewski