Zhang Huan’s sculpture Three Legged Buddha, installed at Storm King Art Center, photo by Jonathan VanAntwerpen taken on December 5, 2020.
Zhang Huan, Three Legged Buddha | Storm King Art Center, December 5, 2020 | Photo: Jonathan VanAntwerpen | Copyright © 2021 Jonathan VanAntwerpen

From “What will survive of us is love,” published recently at Thrive Global:

We enjoin each other to remember with frequently fraught if well-intentioned formulas, and too commonly imagine the results as inevitably healing. When things turn out otherwise, as they often do, there are those who quickly tell us that we’re just not doing it right — that we need another form of confessional practice, a better set of beliefs, an alternative mode of truth-telling, a different discourse of memory. And maybe we do. Yet when we need them most urgently, we understandably reach for whatever inherited or borrowed words we have at hand.

Read it here: Jonathan VanAntwerpen| What will survive of us is love.

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Walkway in the woods — A photo by Jonathan VanAntwerpen
Walkway in the woods | Photo: Jonathan VanAntwerpen

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things”

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Photograph by Jonathan VanAntwerpen of Redwood Trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
California Redwoods, July 3, 2014 | Photo: Jonathan VanAntwerpen

“Somebody once said to me that in relation to religion that I come across like I’m totally lost. And I took it as a deep compliment. I was delighted, because I have no interest in being found. ‘I once was lost, but now I’m found’ is a phrase that echoes throughout so much hymnody in the Christianities of the world. And I sometimes have deep suspicion of the idea of being found, because I am interested, perhaps artistically, in the idea about what happens when you know you’re not found. What do you begin to observe?”

Pádraig Ó Tuama on David Wagoner’s “Lost

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Pentwater, Michigan | Photo: Jonathan VanAntwerpen

Sweet Darkness

by David Whyte

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone,
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your home
tonight.

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

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Book Cover of Stealing Buddha’s Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen, Photo by Jonathan VanAntwerpen
Stealing Buddha’s Dinner | Bich Minh Nguyen | Photo: Jonathan VanAntwerpen

“Maybe because I was surrounded by so much Christianity, I often regarded Buddha as a stand-in for God. I prayed to him many times for things I wanted: Top 40 albums, new shoes, chocolate cake. I prayed for miracles, too: twenty-twenty vision, a pretty face, big bank accounts for my parents. Whenever God was cited — in the Pledge of Allegiance or on coins — in my mind I substituted the word Buddha.”

from Bich Minh Nguyen’s memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner

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Jonathan VanAntwerpen

Jonathan VanAntwerpen is a program director at the Henry Luce Foundation. Originally trained as a philosopher, he holds a Ph.D. in sociology from UC-Berkeley.