Curiosity, Holiness, Science: An Homage to Eve

curious-child-by-charity

A recent scene at my neighborhood pool: It’s closing time and the lifeguards are rolling the tarp off its big spool and laying it out across the water. A 3- or 4-year-old boy bolts away from his mother at the gate leading outside and squats down poolside, gazing intently as the tarp unfurls. His mother calls to him, “O.K., let’s go!”

All he does in response is reach his hand out so he can touch the tarp as it moves under his fingers. His mother may as well be a million miles away.

I am smiling to myself at the whole scene, don’t even realize my smile shows until I approach the gate and Mom says to me, smiling herself now, “It’s so interesting!”

“Of course it is!” I respond. “And it’s so interesting that it’s interesting to him!”

She vigorously assents to this and we both laugh, marveling at the insatiable, seemingly undiscriminating curiosity of the young.

But re...

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The Lasting Emotional Weight of Childhood Memories

Child Shadows by magnetisch

I’m 3-something years old, and my family is living in an upstairs apartment in Woodbridge, New Jersey.

My dad is working two jobs, 16 hours a day, just a few years after we have immigrated without a penny in our pockets from a ravaged post-war Europe. There’s a howling nor’easter going on, buckets and buckets of rain. Probably some vestige of a hurricane.

I have somehow managed to sneak downstairs and out into the little spot of dirt and concrete that serves as a front yard. My mom is no doubt occupied with my newborn sister, her fourth child in nine years, and I am roaming free.

But as I’m looking up, I suddenly hear a voice rise above the storm. Where is it coming from? I finally manage to focus and see my mom’s head sticking out the upstairs window.

She’s bellowing.

“Andy, what are you doing?”

It is a very good question, for all times and seasons.

What I seem to be d...

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On Paying Attention: Ryan Lochte and Media’s Junk News

Gymnast by IOC Young Reporters

So we are at the end of these Olympic Games. Mammoth undertaking, nearly the entire world enthralled to some degree or other with these contests reflecting intense passion, competitive fire, and, for the most part, a sense of universal brother-and-sisterhood, human solidarity writ large across nations and cultures and even religions of the world, oh my…

All of it reflecting years of effort and training and dreaming for a select few fortunate enough to make it to this pinnacle of the sporting world.

(Yes, I know it also reflects rampant commercialization, politicization, fraud and influence peddling etc.; I’ll get back to you the very moment I find a large human endeavor that is free of those…)

In the midst of it all, a quartet of lunkhead male swimmers, who I’m sure are fine sons and friends and teammates with many scores of good people who can vouch for their essential good character, get too much ...

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In Praise of Mourning: the Assisted Suicide Party of Betsy Davis

Ginkgo Leaves by Andrew Hidas

For many years now I have been both pleased and troubled by the trend of turning funerals and memorial services into “celebrations.”

Pleased because the “celebratory” theme does justice, in a profound way, to the whole of a person’s life and character and resounding impact upon those who still live.

Troubled because I fear it can easily lapse into denial and suppression of the honest, healing emotion of grief.

Case in point: the altogether remarkable tale of Betsy Davis, the 41-year-old woman with ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease who took her own life last week, but not before she threw an extravagant two-day party for some 30 close friends and relatives to “celebrate” her life at her home in Ojai.

There was much to admire in Davis’s decision to take charge of her own fate in sovereign possession of her own body, about as fundamental a right as we can or should conjure in any world where freedom is ...

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A Happy Birth Day Adoption Memoir

Dakota Newborn

I’ve had a stack of black book personal journals occupying various spots in back bedrooms for many years now. They are the product of an effort for the first five or so years of my daughter’s life to provide a record, a kind of daily diary, of not only what happened, where we went, what we did and who we saw, but more importantly for two people who came very late to parenthood after long efforts to first prevent pregnancy, then to become pregnant, then to become adoptive parents, to provide a chronicle of the heart, of the vast reservoirs of love and delight and appreciation that suffused our lives when she came into them exactly 18 years ago today.

I wanted to give her a taste, many years down the line when she might take a peek at my scrawlings, of just how much she was cherished, not to mention how much sheer fun we had in profound activities like…watching her sleep…and changing her diapers…and clea...

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