Grace and Nature

Sunday morning, 10:38am. March 27th, 2020

Weather: 47º F, cloudy, drizzly.

The first time I saw Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, it was the Fourth of July, 2011. At the time I was living in Jon's family's house in Dyker Heights. Late that night we drove to Sunshine Cinemas to see it play with Reed. Cars were parked along the BQE under the Brooklyn promenade overhang as fireworks exploded over the East River. We didn't pay much attention.

I spoke to my friend Grace on Friday. One point in our conversation reminded me of a memorable monologue from the film. Jessica Chastain's character tells us:

There are two ways through life, the way of Nature and the way of Grace. You have to choose which one you'll follow.

Grace doesn't try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries.

Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things.

The quote brings to my mind the focus of the individual, and how it relates to the focus of a community.

The individual's focus is on themself. "How do I get my food? I must establish their safe boundaries from others, so they don't take from me. I have what I have and I call it my own. Get your own." The individual takes from others for themself. So is the experience of the individual, and that of nature.

The community considers others first. "How are you feeling? Are you doing okay? I'm sorry you're experiencing that. How can I help? Here, take this pasta. I made it for you." The community gives to others for the good of the group. So is the experience of the community, and that of grace.

A long-question on my mind of late has been: how to you balance your individual with your community?

I disagree with the statement in the monologue "you have to choose [to follow either grace or nature]," and encourage you to question it as well.


Sunday morning, 11:34am. March 22nd, 2020

Weather: 38º F, partially sunny.

Hi there. I hope you are doing okay during the staying in. Things are a bit undetermined right now. I've had a ton of trouble keeping it together these last two weeks myself. It is completely normal if you are too.

On this site I will write about my experiences to help myself process, but also to help you process. We are going to get through this together. Keeping track of how we feel and what we're going through is important work right now.

The content will probably be critical reflection. It will range in tone between neutral and uplifting. I will not be writing about Coronavirus itself or the problems it is creating in our society. There is enough of that content on other websites.

I'll post more here soon. Since you probably won't check my website every day, I'm going to figure out a way to let you know when I write more.

Let me know if you want me to send you a note when I have updates here. I'll respect the amount of notifications and information coming your way that you do not need.