Essays

Abba, tell me a word

Abba, tell me a word

Roger LipseyJan 31, 202317 min read

Abba Anthony was living his customary day of prayer and labor in the desert hermitage he called home when a band of seekers paid a visit. We are sometime in the fourth century of our era and in Scetis, the…

Looking for Gold: The alchemy of Cinderella

Looking for Gold: The alchemy of Cinderella

Mary A. OsborneJan 31, 202310 min read

Once upon a time, “The wife of a rich man fell ill, and when she felt that she was nearing her end she called her only daughter to her bedside and said, ‘Dear child, continue devout and good. Then God…

The Art of Budo

The Art of Budo

John StevensJan 31, 20236 min read

In my lifelong spiritual quest, I have read hundreds of sutras; plowed through pages and pages of philosophical texts; grappled with koan collections; analyzed thousands of poems; searched through biographies; meditated for hours; and interacted with many teachers, good and…

Testimony

Testimony

Brenton MacKinnonJan 31, 202316 min read

The day finally arrived when my faculty advisor asked me to choose a topic for the Master’s thesis in sociolinguistics. What to do? Maybe some coffee and a piece of pie down at the Koffe Klatch would lubricate my imagination.…

In the Hands of the Sea

In the Hands of the Sea

Surnaí MolloyJan 31, 20237 min read

I went out into the garden, to the crag, and I sat on the bench and watched the light change in the sea; looking over the fields, the holy well, the standing stone. The mountains beyond the bay were blue with…

The Monkey and the River, by Mark Nepo

The Monkey and the River, by Mark Nepo

Mark NepoJan 31, 20205 min read

A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains. (detail). Wang Ximeng, 1113 When people are at a loss, the guide ferries them over. When one is (awake), one ferries oneself. —Hui-Neng …

Who Decides History’s Future?, by Alexandra Zaleski

Who Decides History’s Future?, by Alexandra Zaleski

Alexandra ZaleskiJul 25, 201912 min read

Knights and martyrs. Painting (detail) on canvas from church of Abbas Antonios, Ethiopia. Late seventeenth century. Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac, Paris In the Era of Princes, Abyssinia had no…

A Parabola Bestiary: Horses, by Alice van Buren

A Parabola Bestiary: Horses, by Alice van Buren

Alice van BurenSep 3, 20186 min read

Bestiaries were traditionally works of observation and natural history. Ancient and widespread, their way of observing allowed room for elements of theology, symbolism, and moralizing that strike our modern ear…

Seeking Verity, by Tracy Cochran

Seeking Verity, by Tracy Cochran

Tracy CochranOct 31, 201314 min read

Verity climbed down from the scaffold and stood with me, looking up at his work. I murmured something about how otherworldly the statue looked. “I look for something other when…

The Only Black Person in the Room

The Only Black Person in the Room

Lisa TeasleyJul 28, 20228 min read

Belonging was a concept I could long neither feel nor grasp. Eight years ago while on a yacht circling the Marina del Rey channel, I answered my then white German…

The Unfinished Painting, by Mark Nepo

The Unfinished Painting, by Mark Nepo

Mark NepoJan 18, 20168 min read

Lascaux Cave Paintings, ca. 15,000 BC Dreams and art are the smoke signals connecting the one tribe over time. Stories and myths do the same. Often…

The Flight from Disunity: Thomas Merton on Suffering, by Vanessa Hurst

The Flight from Disunity: Thomas Merton on Suffering, by Vanessa Hurst

Vanessa HurstJan 4, 201712 min read

Light Beyond Pain, Abbey of Gethesmani, Kentucky Photographs: Br. Paul Quenon “Some men believe in the power and value of suffering,” writes Thomas Merton. “But their…

Cosmos in Stone, by Hélène Fleury

Cosmos in Stone, by Hélène Fleury

Hélène FleuryJul 26, 20188 min read

Photo by Alec Foege Hélène Fleury and a group of co-workers, the Association Archéologique Kergal, have made a study in depth of the European megalithic sites,…

Walking the Maze, by Pamela Travers

Walking the Maze, by Pamela Travers

Pamela TraversFeb 20, 201813 min read

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres I n his book Mont St Michel and Chartres, Henry Adams quotes from a letter written by one abbé to another telling…

Daily Life as Spiritual Exercise, by Karlfried Graf Dürckheim

Daily Life as Spiritual Exercise, by Karlfried Graf Dürckheim

Parabola EditorsOct 13, 20155 min read

Dürckheim on a morning walk with Swami Prabhupada in Frankfurt in June 1974 (Wikipedia) “There is a story that tells of Meister Eckhart’s meeting with a…

The Esoteric Shakespeare, by Michael White

The Esoteric Shakespeare, by Michael White

Michael WhiteJan 30, 201910 min read

The Plays of William Shakespeare. John Gilbert, oil on canvas, 1849. Dahesh Museum of Art, New York City “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely…

The Way of the Heart, by Cynthia Bourgeault

The Way of the Heart, by Cynthia Bourgeault

Cynthia BourgeaultJan 31, 201723 min read

Photograph by Brandon Zierer From the Christian esoteric tradition, a path beyond the mind Put the mind in the heart…. Put the mind in the heart….…

The Wall and the Mirror: Forgiveness in the Work of Martin Scorsese, by Kent Jones

The Wall and the Mirror: Forgiveness in the Work of Martin Scorsese, by Kent Jones

Kent JonesJul 25, 201916 min read

Martin Scorsese (l.) and Robert De Niro (r.) in Taxi Driver. Martin Scorsese Collection, NY “If I were God, I’d forgive the whole world.” Robert Bresson, L’ARGENT Three years ago,…

Queen of Angels, by Tracy Cochran

Queen of Angels, by Tracy Cochran

Tracy CochranApr 30, 201516 min read

Annunciation, Master of the Louis XII Triptych, c. 1498–1514 We parked in a field and walked half a mile down a road with the other pilgrims,…