Ruth Woodliff-Stanley

Science & Nature

Sleep Is Your Superpower

Matt Walker

TED Talk

A jarring talk about the profound implications of sleep deprivation.

Listen to brain scientist and sleep expert Matt Walker highlight the relationship between sleep and health. Watch at least the Q & A from minute 17:30. Consider how we limit sleep for ourselves and others in the ways we construct work and life.

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Business & Technology

How to Regain the Lost Art of Reflecting

Martin Reeves, Roseline Torres, Fabien Hassan

Harvard Business Review

An article highlighting the importance of reflective thinking and underscoring the challenges of protecting time for such thinking in a context of information overload.

Pay attention to the definition of “slow” and “fast” thinking in the second paragraph. Consider how much time you devote to “slow” thinking in a typical day.

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Arts & Architecture

Interactive Art Installation Lets Strangers Talk to Each Other Across the Border

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Mallory Falk (Interviewer)

Morning Edition, NPR

A podcast about an art installation allowing people to connect over the wall across the border.

Notice what Lozano-Hemmer says about the airspace above the wall.

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Education & Communication

The Key to Safe Digital Spaces in Turbulent Times

Khwezi Magwaza

Girl Effect

A story about a mobile platform connecting girls around the world to provide a common context for building hope.

Pay attention to the strategy of Girl Effect in walking the fine line between empowering girls to express their own thoughts and views while honoring the norms operating in their communities.

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In what ways have I unwittingly relinquished my agency, and how can I reclaim it in order to be more present to face current personal and societal challenges?


Recently, I was driving in rural New York in a rental car. While driving, I heard a small chime and on the instrument panel a coffee cup icon came up with the instruction, “consider stopping for a break.” I realized something about my driving translated as drowsiness to the automobile, triggering the alert.

The disturbing thing about this to me was the detachment of my experience of my own state from the so-called “perception” of the machinery giving me instruction. I felt as if I lacked the agency to comprehend my own reality.

Such detachment of our own experience from the feedback we receive is pervasive today. We sometimes move through our days prompted by unseen actors who seem to be guiding us, making decisions for us. What have we given away that we must reclaim? Sleep? Reflection? Choice of how we communicate? Decisions about who has access to our identities? Courage to challenge what we know is wrong?

You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. Romans 13:11

To be present, to be awake, as the church lessons of first Advent ask of us, we must reclaim agency over parts of our lives we have relinquished. This is both personal and societal work with spiritual and justice dimensions.

For example, we know sleep is essential; yet as Matt Walker notes in our science lesson, we are the one species who deprive ourselves of it voluntarily. We understand reflective thought drives new ideas and enables us to solve entrenched problems. Yet, we leave little time in our days for “slow” thinking, as the authors of our business and technology lesson highlight for us (Reeves, Torres, and Hassan). We realize we have lost control of our online identities through current social media platforms. Yet, collectively, we have not managed to develop an alternative such as the one Girl Effect has put in place for vulnerable girls worldwide that we read about in our education and communication lesson. We can see how a wall and bad policies can render those across a border invisible and silent to us. Yet, we lack ways to reclaim our freedom to transcend the limits we are expected to embrace. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, in our arts and architecture lesson, shows us how to reclaim our agency despite these barriers by looking to the skies to carry voice and light.

Without meaning to, we give away much. Being prepared and awake for the coming of the Lord in our world today requires us to consider our own place in the story.

Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:42

Waking up is something we do one step at a time, together.