Loathing and Hopelessness, Juice and Joy: Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Secret Sorrow

"Outwardly I think I am employed to what is of no or little use," Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote in his journal just months before his death. "I was continuing this train of thought this evening when I began to enter on that course of loathing and hopelessness which I have so often felt before..." I … Continue reading Loathing and Hopelessness, Juice and Joy: Gerard Manley Hopkins’ Secret Sorrow

Castles, Catch and Kairos: Relearning Play in an Age of Digital Distraction

I once asked a kindergarten boy if there was anything he'd like me to tell his mom, who'd asked me to call her after a counseling session with her son. "Tell her to get off the phone!"  he snapped with a bitterness that took me by surprise. "What?  You mean she talks on the phone a … Continue reading Castles, Catch and Kairos: Relearning Play in an Age of Digital Distraction

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: How Music Helps Us Rise when All We Want to Do Is Quit

There's more than enough anxiety to go around these days and plenty of places to place the blame.  Plenty of sin, plenty of harm, plenty of reasons to disengage.  Or just give up. A little thing just about tipped me this morning because it arrived after a series of sadnesses and frustrations big and small.  … Continue reading Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: How Music Helps Us Rise when All We Want to Do Is Quit

Tolkien, Trees and a Naturalist’s Notebook: Noticing Nature as Mordor Looms

"In all my works I take the part of trees against all their enemies," J.R.R. Tolkien wrote late in his life.  The Master of Middle Earth even referred on one occasion to The Lord of the Rings as "my own inner tree." With springtime erupting everywhere, I've been reading Humphrey Carpenter's J.R.R. Tolkein:  A Biography.  … Continue reading Tolkien, Trees and a Naturalist’s Notebook: Noticing Nature as Mordor Looms

Three Words to Guide a New Year of Hope

When I told a family member I wasn't doing much on New Year's Eve this time around, he responded, "Yeah, I'm noticing that in a lot of people.  It's an angry time.  Lots of people don't feel like celebrating." I hadn't connected my less-than-celebratory plans with a national mood, but he made me think twice … Continue reading Three Words to Guide a New Year of Hope

Advent’s First Week: It Is Better to Light One Candle

December days are short, hemmed in darkness. Grateful for a new liturgical year with its wisdom of waiting and preparation, we place new candles in the old Advent wreath. We light the first candle. Just the first. In silence, preparing to read the first scripture of the season, an old proverb rises in the heart: … Continue reading Advent’s First Week: It Is Better to Light One Candle

In the Night: A Song for Your Playlist of Hope

 "At the very moment when we need faith the most, it can seem most elusive." The man who wrote these words is losing his eyesight, and I'd begun reading his book on suffering only a day or two before the news of a mass shooting at the Sunday morning service of the First Baptist Church … Continue reading In the Night: A Song for Your Playlist of Hope

George Herbert’s Secrets of Soul Revealed in a Package of Poetry

He suffered with poor health throughout his life and died of consumption in 1633 at the age of 39.  Before he died he sent a collection of poems to a friend, the founder of the Anglican religious community, Little Gidding. This request, it is said, accompanied the manuscript: Sir, I pray deliver this little book … Continue reading George Herbert’s Secrets of Soul Revealed in a Package of Poetry

What Do You Want Your Pain to Become? How Forgiveness Releases Prisoners

I had rarely heard the word incarcerated before becoming a counselor, but years of work with at-risk children accustomed me to its cadence. It first surfaced on the lips of a dark-haired high school junior who'd come to my office to change her class schedule. Describing her family, she chatted nonchalantly about her grandmother and … Continue reading What Do You Want Your Pain to Become? How Forgiveness Releases Prisoners

Links to the Soul-Washing Art of Marc Chagall

Art washes from the soul the dust of ordinary life.  –Picasso This simple sentence makes exploring the world of art and artists accessible, removing the fear that I’m not deep enough or educated enough to find enjoyment in its kaledescopic worlds.  Art washes the dust of ordinary life from the soul. One artist who does … Continue reading Links to the Soul-Washing Art of Marc Chagall