Tools for Our Time


What sparked your current spiritual path?

After 13 years at Utne, I was tired of publishing ideas about spirituality and never really living them, so I left the magazine—to find and feel and follow my heart. I did a 10-day vipassanameditation workshop. This led to an interest in Tonglen, the Tibetan practice of lovingkindness, which led to other heart-focused techniques from the Institute of HeartMath. Then I started reading Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner, the founder of the Waldorf education movement.

What kind of spiritual practice do you have now?

I practice a meditative verse from Steiner upon waking, at midday, and just before sleep. It's about becoming more consciously connected to the spirit and bringing more love into the world. I also review the day, backwards to the moment of waking, as the last thing I do before going to sleep.

Your book Cosmo Doogood's Urban Almanac was inspired by Ben Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack. Why do we need an almanac in the 21st century?

In Franklin's day, most of the population was agrarian; his almanac offered all kinds of wisdom and tools for the time. Today, we've structured our lives so that we don't need to be connected to nature—or each other—anymore. But life gets so much richer by being profoundly connected to this world. It's a precursor to real spiritual awareness. I decided we need an urban almanac to help us reconnect with nature, each other, and ourselves.

What is your hope for modern-day city dwellers?

That they'll get out of clock time and into nature time. My book has tools to help people do that—to become aware of the rising and setting sun, the phases of the moon, the passage of the seasons. My hope is that people will begin to open their eyes to nature in the city.