Virtue Revisited

“Freedom works only in a culture already committed to virtue; it cannot work otherwise.” Aristotle Freedom is a word we Americans like to bandy about. Freedom to carry guns, to practice our faith, to speak, to assemble, to pursue happiness. Our freedoms are many; any attempts to limit them are met with strong resistance. While we are committed to our freedoms, I wonder if we are committed to our virtues. Even the word virtue has a quaintness about it, smelling a bit like rosewater as it sits upright on a straight backed chair, drinking tea from a hand-painted cup nested … Continue reading

Like Dolphins Made of Silver Light

This weekend I was scrolling through the video playlist on a field biology site I like to visit when I came upon a warning, “Elephant Calf Eaten Alive by Lions: Not For Sensitive Viewers.” I make myself watch these videos for two reasons: First, I have the irrational need to convince myself that it is not as bad as I fear, and second, because my father once told me that if one loves the world, one must love it with open eyes, accepting its horror as well as its beauty. I had briefly wanted to be a field biologist and … Continue reading

Perilous Self-Deception: When we have a distorted view of how much others care for us

John Driggs

Many of us fool ourselves into believing that other people care about us more than they really do. Or else we don’t grasp just how much some people have to offer us and push away real love. Too many of us are in a no-man’s land of self-deception when it comes to getting close to others. Some of us admit that we just don’t “get” relationships; others of us feel we are experts on relationships. Actually neither is true. Many of us have inaccurate ideas on how people feel about us but only later on know when we are truly … Continue reading

Change? Me?

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are going.” Lao Tzu “Everybody wants it to be different but nobody wants to change.” The pastor referenced the tension in the congregation. Few were happy; most could name someone or something that needed to change. Status quo held tight. Many years later I recall his words as I think about the changes I would like in my life. Do I really want it to be different? How much am I willing to invest to make it so? I like to take stock of my life as the … Continue reading

The Holly- Frazzled Parade

Emily Roiphe Carter

It’s that time of year already — the gatherings, the food, the family — and, what I’m personally looking forward to most of all. The resentments. Gathering over the Thanksgiving table, around the Menorah, the Christmas Tree, the Harvest Spruce, whatever, is the perfect time to take out all those unresolved little wounds and give them a polish. After all, there are relatives around you may not see again for another year, some may be older, some may be living overseas and who knows when you’ll get your next chance. Of all my most cherished resentments my favorite could be … Continue reading

Forgiving Yourself When Your Children Suffer

John Driggs

Imperfect as we are, parents today deserve all the credit in the world for raising children in challenging times. Many of us fret over how we’re doing as parents. Examining our part in our children’s pain can be the most painful thing we do in life. Seeing our kids suffer today due to our own failings is often more than most of us can bear. We can hardly stand to think about such topics. It’s especially hurtful when our children are aloof from or conflicted with us today due to the wrongs we have done them in years past. Often … Continue reading

Enough is Enough!

“He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.” Lao Tzu I am bracing myself for the onslaught of excess and scarcity. It is so easy to move from a sense of wonder at autumn’s abundant and bountiful harvest to feelings of inadequacy and deprivation. I speak of the advertising barrage that begins before Thanksgiving, pulling me toward the worst of consumerism. Black Friday’s shopping spree claws into Thanksgiving’s lavish feast–even before the leftovers are packed away. Like vultures, big-box merchants strip the meat off the carcass of Thanksgiving’s holiday. We leave gratitude in the rear view mirror … Continue reading

Tell Me A Story

“The story – from Rumplestiltskin to War and Peace – is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind for the purpose of understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” – — Ursula K. Le Guin I have always loved stories. I remember standing in front of the bathroom mirror that fronted the medicine cabinet holding all the medical supplies for our one bathroom family while my mom “set” my hair. She took a small hank of hair, dampened it with her … Continue reading

Duped in Love: When your spouse mysteriously turns into someone you don’t know

John Driggs

“The heart already knows what the mind has yet to perceive” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery Life is hard enough when we and our partners go through life changes. We change careers. We are faced by major health challenges. We age and cannot do what we used to do. All of these normal life stresses pale in comparison to learning that our beloved life mate of so many years is really not the person we thought he or she was. Discovering a secret life in a spouse, facing relationship-threatening changes or simply watching our partner become a mysterious remote stranger is … Continue reading

One Excruciating Minute at a Time

Emily Roiphe Carter

“Pain is mandatory–suffering optional” goes one of the many folksy sayings woven through the 12-Step fabric. This has some basis in literal fact. Neurologists have long known that the sensation of pain and our experience of that sensation as something awful are generated in different structures of the forebrain. However, since being alive requires that different places and structures in our brains create one felt experience, pain and suffering are usually linked. What the saying means is “don’t wallow,” which is reasonable. Even so, sometime in our sober lives we will be hit with a lightning bolt of pain we … Continue reading

College Recovery Programs: Supporting Students Choice for Recovery and Academics

School may still be out for students, but Patrice Salmeri, Director of Augsburg’s StepUP Program in Minneapolis is hard at work ensuring all is ready is for the start of another successful school year. Recently she took time out to answer questions about college recovery programs and Augsburg’s StepUp Program. Collegiate recovery programs (CRP’s) provide support for students in recovery who are seeking a degree in higher education. Colleges with recovery programs provide the infrastructure necessary to support the academic performance of college students in recovery. CRP’s are not new — they’ve been around since the 1970s. Brown University was … Continue reading

When Married Couples Drift Apart

John Driggs

My best friend Nancy was recently blindsided by a big hit that is changing her life forever. I really feel for her. Her husband Stewart, who has been unemployed for the past five years, announced out of the blue that he is filing for a divorce. I was shocked and saddened beyond belief by her news. I mean, here is a wife supporting the household with a successful law practice, extremely grateful that her husband has chosen to be the primary caretaker of their two children. Stewart has always been nuts about the kids and she thought they had a … Continue reading

Cultivating Compassion

I recently visited Louisville, Kentucky, on the wide and muddy Ohio River, six miles from where slaves once swam to the free state of Ohio. The river’s navigation was interrupted here by the Falls of the Ohio, forcing early travelers to portage and offering creative entrepreneurs a site for budding commerce. Gradually a small settlement grew into an elegant city–home of the Kentucky Derby and the Louisville Slugger, an active center for interfaith dialogue and the title Compassionate City. As a Compassionate City, Louisville is committed to champion and nurture the growth of compassion. Louisville is working on several initiatives … Continue reading

Sentimental Education: In the Rooms

Emily Roiphe Carter

It’s an old crack, but when I heard it for the first time, it was the first time I’d heard it: “You don’t need rehabilitation, you need habilitation.” It was true, until I had to get sober I had neglected to learn almost all of the things that most people my age were already doing by reflex. One of these things was sitting in a room with other people without being chemically fortified. Until my first AA meeting I did not know how to comfortably sit in a social arrangement with other humans. I either tried to get all the … Continue reading

Real Places: The Retreat

John Curtiss

As I pulled into the driveway at The Retreat in Wayzata on a rainy, weekday morning, I quickly discovered every parking spot was taken. As I squeezed my not-so-compact car into a not-so-legitimate parking space, my curiosity grew. “Who are all these people here? Why is it so busy? What exactly does this this place offer?” My questions would soon be answered by the caring, enthusiastic staff at The Retreat. History Lesson from John Curtiss To understand what The Retreat is, and why it was created, one needs to know about John Curtiss, the co-founder and president of The Retreat. … Continue reading

In a World Without Empathy

John Driggs

Imagine living in a world where no one is capable of understanding anybody else’s feelings. In such a world, someone could grasp how you feel only if he or she had exactly the same experiences you’ve had. If they hadn’t had those experiences they would have no idea what you are talking about. Consequently, you’d likely feel all alone in your solitary circumstances. Of course then you would have no way to feel loved since the experience of true love is about someone else accepting us as we really are and not for how we match up to their expectations. … Continue reading