Reckonings is a journal focused on human and cultural change, and justice in its range of interactive dimensions -
personal, social, political, economic, environmental, poetic.
Attention to such themes is often expository and analytic. But true reckonings include imagery and story, drama, dance, poetry and song, the world of our dreams, shadow as well as light. Wall off or ignore any of these and our exploration of lives and their character risks desiccation and superficiality.
The pages of Reckonings, accumulated over 18 years now, are diverse but not scattershot. The consciousness that informs them is still relatively coherent, still built upon the twin aspirations of integrity and love. A useful reader's or browser's guide might be the archives and categories listed on the right side of this first page, and the search box in the same location.
Now, in 2018 and in northern California, Reckonings is about as old or young as the century in which it abides. I started writing and editing when my wife and I were living deep in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Figuratively and literally I was exploring, breaking and mending wilderness trails. That remains my calling. My vehicles are still words and images, poetry, fiction, memoir, biography, and photography, in addition to shovel, hoe and mattock. (Truthfully, the last three are now a domain of personal history rather than current practice; but I've added meditation in the last seven years, for which I'm deeply grateful.)
Photo: Blueberries and Granite, by John R. Boettiger (2001)
My formal training is that of a psychologist, but I've never found a way to practice that discipline straightforwardly. I'm always down a ravine or up a mountain or wandering in a marsh, hyphenated. I've been fortunate in my diverse teachers, sources of inspiration, grace and clarity, sometimes taxing, always enriching. Martin Buber, my mentors Erik and Joan Erikson, my grandparents Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt, my poet friend Richard O. Moore, Stanley Kunitz, Joanna Macy, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Alan Jones, Gil Bailie, my wise age-mate Parker Palmer, William Stafford, Jane Kenyon, Wendell Berry, my sister Ellie and brother Curtis, my parents Anna and John, my children Adam, Sara, Joshua and Paul, my eight grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.
The more the years, the more I feel blessed.
Justice, hope and history: so inevitably issues of
- meaning and value,
- good and evil,
- sacred and profane,
- body, mind, heart and soul as one integrated, systemic whole,
- the evolution of human consciousness through a lifetime and from one generation to another, to the seventh generation,
- the character and health of our relationships with each other, our roots in family, community and place,
- our membership in the natural world of which we are an interactive part, and for which we bear unique responsibility.
The word reckonings is rich in implication, suggesting the most careful regard, seeking true direction, and (as in "day of reckoning") the consequences of our lives and the mysteries of forgiveness. Our tools and the ways of our work are those common to writer and artist: attention, contemplation, patience, persistence, imagination, conversation, crafting one's learning with as much clarity, truth and grace as may be found or given.
The subtitle and theme of Reckonings are drawn from poet Seamus Heaney's The Cure at Troy, a version of Sophocles' play Philoctetes. It has become an obscure play, but Heaney's version, while little performed, has rescued it for continued reflection, and I've written about it here. (See the post "Wounding and Cure.")
The pages of Reckonings change frequently, more in keeping with kairos (the right time, the opportune time) than chronos (chronological or sequential time).* Another useful word, sometimes fortuitously applicable, is the Greek hôrâ, similar to kairos, the seasonal time, the beautiful time when everything comes together. The pages of Reckonings are linear or chronological in the sense that one follows another from day to day, but it may just as well be said that they are circular or elliptical or spiral. Subjects appear, metamorphose, fade, reappear in response to discovery, learning and revision; and in response to that which most needs attention -- the love and wisdom, the neglect and cruelty of those who bear responsibility for the lives of others, ways the first can be nourished, the second transformed and redeemed.
Comments, conversation, sharing, subscription: I welcome communication with anyone who feels a kinship with one or more of the themes of Reckonings. Offer comments on individual posts, or write me directly,
Click on "Comments" at the end of any post to leave a comment; I'll try to understand and respond. Click on "ShareThis" to share a post with friends via email or networking sites. Subscribe to Reckonings by clicking one of the subscription options in the column on the right. (Your email address will never be shared with anyone.)
* The contrast of chronos and kairos has been well described by my friend Gil Bailie: "In contrast to the word chronos – which means an interval of time, time as chronology, a sequence of identical units of time – kairos refers to a qualitative, not quantitative, experience of time. It implies a moment pregnant with consequences and demanding a decision, and, more importantly, the present moment, 'the present time.'"