Month: November 2016

The Importance of Roots

As the late fall weather arrives in Washington and the leaves cover the ground, my thoughts have turned to one of the best natural history/science books I’ve read in years. The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David George Haskell is both very modern and very old fashioned in its outlook.  Haskell’s work is a meditation of a year’s worth of observation on a small patch of old growth forest – which he refers to as his mandala – near Sewanee, Tennessee. Every few days Haskell visits this patch of land and captures his observations.  The chapter for December 3rd is entitled “Litter,” as the forest floor is covered with leaves and other dying plants, similar to what we see along the C&O Canal, Rock Creek, or Sligo Creek here in Washington.  The first half of the chapter is an explanation of the leaves, mushrooms, bugs, seeds, fungal strands, and the unseen microbial community in the soil of his mandala.  But after noting that ecological science has yet to fully digest the discovery …

Our Year in Photos – 2016

As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I continue my tradition of posting family photographs from the past year on More to Come… We have much for which to be thankful in 2016. During a year when our country has seen much distrust, hatred, and focus on the worst aspects of our common life, we – like so many of you – are working hard to recognize the many blessings we have shared individually, as a family, and within our communities.  Not everyone in our families and in our group of friends agrees with our outlook on life. But no matter where one stands on the political divide, it is clear that we have a profoundly broken country at the moment. Our family will try and be advocates for a loving, inclusive country that recognizes the gifts of all and the bounty available if we will only embrace the “we” as well as the “me” in our communities.  I know we have to do more. Last December, I gathered with all my brothers and sisters …

Ants Don’t Get Stuck in Traffic Jams

The Next City website had a recent post by a physicist, Laurie Winkless, entitled 7 Things I Learned While Trying to Figure Out How Cities Work.  Number 3 jumped out at me, and I’ll quote it here: “We’ve all been caught up in phantom traffic jams, where for no discernible reason, traffic builds up and then eases. These traffic shockwaves are officially known as “jamitons,” and they can arise even if everyone is driving perfectly. But ants don’t have the same issue: Even when their highways are packed, they don’t get gridlocked. It seems that it’s because ants self-organize into lanes, and give each other a lot of headway, which buys them more time to react to any incidents up ahead … maybe a lesson in there for us all.” Maybe a lesson indeed!  I looked up from my book on a recent commute on the Metro, when I felt several people rush by my seat.  What was the hurry?  It turns out that they had entered at Gallery Place and were all pushing to …

Reflection. Meekness. Responsibility.

In February 1990, Václav Havel – the great Czech playwright, intellectual, and dissident – made an address to the United States Congress.  Havel had been president of Czechoslovakia for only two months when he made his speech.  However, he had a lifetime of experience in living through, and responding to, different political systems. Among his thoughts that day was the following: “…the salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness, and in human responsibility.” Havel’s words are as important today as ever. Have a good week. More to come… DJB

Six (or Less) Degrees of Separation

My father stayed in touch with people all over the world.  But I was still surprised earlier this week when the Senior Minister of First Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia – where I was speaking – quickly made the association between me and my hyper-connected father. Historic Savannah Foundation invited me to be the guest speaker at their annual meeting, which was being held in the historic sanctuary of First Baptist Church.  In a bit of chit-chat before the meeting began with their senior minister, Dr. John Finley, I mentioned that I grew up attending First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. That’s when Dr. Finley looked at me and asked, “Are you Tom’s son?” I must have looked pretty dumb-founded, because he quickly added, “My first job out of college at Vanderbilt was as a youth minister in First Baptist in Murfreesboro.”  Dr. Finley was there in the mid-1970s for three months, and became friends with my mom and dad, as well as the staff and others.  Daddy kept in touch and even visited Savannah …

For the Son of a Librarian, the Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree

I love seeing lists of books recommended by people from all walks of life.  As the son of a children’s librarian and the husband of a children’s reading specialist, books have always been a part of my life. This enthusiasm was brought home to me again when I recently saw a list of recommended readings from President Obama (or, as Inc.com called him, the “Bookworm-in-Chief.”)  It seemed appropriate – the day before the election – to recall all the good things President Obama has brought our way, including an intellectual curiosity about the world. Writer Rebecca Solnit has said, “I disappeared into books when I was very young, disappeared into them like someone running into the woods.”  I know that feeling.  A couple of years ago, in thinking about a lifetime (so far) of reading, I put together my own list of twelve books (plus some bonus reads) that had influenced me. If you click through, you’ll see that the initial one on my list is the first I remember from my childhood. I suspect …

Going Out in a Blaze of Glory

Last evening’s Commemoration of All Faithful Departed service at our church was beautiful and personally meaningful.  I had it marked on my calendar for some time, as I wanted to attend to remember my father, who passed away earlier this year. The choir’s music was beautiful, with Mozart’s Requiem interspersed between the readings.  The first of those readings is from the Book of Wisdom and begins, “The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment shall ever touch them.” We put the names of loved ones departed into a basket, and during the prayers of the people each name was read while members of the congregation could come forward and light a candle. (As an aside, I loved hearing baseball legend Monte Irvin remembered among the departed.) Lovely. Thoughtful. Deeply moving. And when I saw that The Rev. Emily Griffin was the evening’s preacher, I knew all three of those feelings would continue.  We have three very insightful and thoughtful priests who enlighten us each in their own way with …