Advent 11: Be Transported


This morning my stylist Anna cut my hair (okay—and colored it—sheesh). I always look forward to being in her studio and talking about life.

I mentioned a favorite love song and sent her a link. While my hair was setting, she played it on her phone and we listened together. I teared up a little (surprise) and we had what one might call a moment, connecting with one another and with all of life, really. We were transported. If Emily had been there, she probably would have sighed, “I love love.”

Much as I’m sustained by my inner life, that fire needs fuel. I’m grateful for all the numinous experiences I’ve had in my meditation corner. But I’m equally grateful for a world of amazing people, projects, places, books and ideas to push off of. Everywhere I look, there are springboards, transporting me into beauty, justice, kindness, wisdom, sorrow, or love. This morning, it was Eddie Vedder’s voice and what that song means to Yancey and I. And it was the experience of really listening to it with someone.

What transports you? What can you count on to bring you back to yourself? Here’s a short, idiosyncratic list of what’s transported me lately or in the last year or two:

  • The poetry of Ellen Bass, especially her volumes Like a Beggar and The Human Line

  • Green Book, movie out now about an unlikely friendship between a world-class black musician and an Italian bouncer from the 1960’s NYC night club scene

  • The movie Itzhak about Itzhak Perlman, his music and zest for life, his perseverance despite disability, and all the ways he’s given his life to students

  • Insomniac City, book, the story of Bill Hayes and Oliver Sacks falling in love

  • Elizabeth Lesser’s book Marrow about she and her sister. Produced what’s now a strong refrain of mine, “Every relationship has the potential to be a little better than it is.”

  • The Best we Could Do, a graphic novel by Thi Bui about immigrating to America with her family after the Vietnam War

  • Esther Perel’s podcast Where Should we Begin?, chronicling real-life couples talking about their relationships

  • The Robcast, Rob Bell’s podcast about God, life, and whatever he feels like talking about

  • Touching a tree, which is so easy to do in Bellingham—feeling its rough bark under my hands, letting my life join with its life

We have some wise guides in this life—there is always someone who’s been through what we are going through, who’s thought about or experienced something before we have and who can help light the way.