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A Retreat into Moral Suffering & Golden Repair

Painting of woman holding plant

Kintsugi by Jacquelin de Leon

“The wounds and harms that arise from falling over the edge into moral suffering can have positive value …”

Editor’s Note: Joan Halifax’s new book, Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet, is packed with powerful stories and deep wisdom. One story is about a “street retreat” “where participants sleep on the street, beg for money and food, eat at soup kitchens, walk and talk with whomever they meet.” In a separate piece, Halifax helps us frame the difficulties that can easily lead to altruism burnout. Walking into Moral Suffering For the 2016 San Francisco Street Retreat, Kosho Durel and Joshin Byrnes arrived early to scout out the soup kitchens and safe places on the streets where they could sleep. Kosho wrote that walking through the Tenderloin District, he “was shocked by the number of people living on the street, the drug use, the litter and pollution, the crumbling buildings, the crumbling bodies of people.” Kosho and Joshin decided to visit the soup kitchen run by Glide Memorial Church, a historically progressive Methodist church engaged with race, class, and LGBTQ rights. The soup kitchen was not what they expected. Kosho describes its basement cafeteria as a room with concr …

Adapted from Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet, by Joan Halifax. Just published by Flatiron Books.

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