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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Chess’

A Song of Songs for These American Days

By Richard ChessJanuary 4, 2017

With thanks and apologies to the Beatles, Leonard Cohen, Emily Dickinson, Neil Young, Wallace Stevens, Bruce Springsteen, the Wailin’ Jennys, Randy Newman, Bob Dylan, God, Joni Mitchell, Bob Marley, Paul Simon, Tom Waits, Sam Baker, The Band, Bruce Cockburn, The Grateful Dead, Richie Havens, and all the musicians and poets who have sustained and nourished…

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How Do You Write?

By Richard ChessNovember 14, 2016

Do you write with a pen? Do you write with the wind? Do you pray first? Do you pray when you are stuck? Do you pray after? Or are you praying the whole way through? Do you wait for the singer on the beach or the sinner in the confession booth to finish before you…

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Traveling Through These Days of Awe

By Richard ChessOctober 17, 2016

I’m in a plane ascending to 37,000 feet. How restless have I been this year? How easily distractible? Already on this flight, from the time of boarding the plane until now, I’ve jumped from e-mail to Facebook to FiveThirtyEight to Jane Hirshfield on Basho to Mishkan Hanefesh, Sanctuary of the Soul, the Reform movement’s new…

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Getting Close to You, God: A Meditation During the Month of Elul

By Richard ChessSeptember 27, 2016

“You are my light and my help / Whom should I fear?” Thus begins Norman Fischer’s Zen-inspired translation of Psalm 27. Right now, at this very moment, Shabbat morning, the 14th of Elul, 5776; Sept. 17, 2016, these verses don’t resonate with me. Fear: yes, I am afraid, afraid, at the moment, that I won’t…

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Of Cookbooks and Lynchings

By Richard ChessSeptember 6, 2016

“Men and women in automobiles stood up to watch him die.” That’s the sentence one student recalled when I asked the class what was memorable in Eula Biss’s essay “Time and Distance Overcome.” The man who died was a black man “accused of attacking a white woman.” For his alleged behavior, he was “tied to…

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You Must Be Present to Learn

By Richard ChessAugust 10, 2016

For the past five years, I’ve been experimenting with the use of contemplative practices in the classes I teach at UNC Asheville. For a quick overview of the range of contemplative practices being used in higher education today, see The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society’s Tree of Contemplative Practices. On the eve of a…

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My Money, My Life

By Richard ChessJuly 21, 2016

My money is the Tao te Ching, translated and introduced by David Hinton. My $12.87 turned into this teaching: Once it’s full of jade and gold your house will never be safe. Proud of wealth and renown you bring on your own ruin. (#9) My money is a boarding pass for American Airlines flight 5469…

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The Dragon and the Yahrzeit Candle: On Forgetting and Remembering, Part 3

By Richard ChessJune 30, 2016

Continued from yesterday and Tuesday. In Hunger Mountain: A Field Guide to Mind and Landscape, David Hinton observes, “We tend to ignore the disappearing, the forgetfulness, but all day long, day in and day out, forgetfulness keeps us woven into dragon’s traceless transformations.” The dragon, he explained earlier, is “China’s mythological embodiment of all creation…

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The Dragon and the Yahrzeit Candle: On Forgetting and Remembering, Part 2

By Richard ChessJune 29, 2016

Continued from yesterday.  I dive into the pool. My body remembers water. My body remembers how to swim. My arm swings overhead, my arm follows through, my hand plunges into the water, pushing water, propelling my body forward down the lane. It seems to happen naturally, automatically. I don’t need to think to swim. I…

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The Dragon and the Yahrzeit Candle: On Forgetting and Remembering, Part 1

By Richard ChessJune 28, 2016

I remember my social security number. I remember the combination to a lock—13 right, 27 left, 5 right—that rusted beyond use some years ago. How many years? I don’t remember. But I remember this: it was two locks ago. I remember the name of the city in which I was born. I remember the name…

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