Contemplating Christmas Cards with Thomas Merton

Two days before Christmas in 1949, Thomas Merton returned to his room in Kentucky's Abbey of Gethsemani and opened his mail. He had received a postcard bearing Fra Angelico's golden rendering of the Annunciation, the moment when the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with the invitation to bring God into the world through her own … Continue reading Contemplating Christmas Cards with Thomas Merton

End 2020 on the Path to the Ever-Ancient, Ever-New Normal

Remember when email was fun? How simple it was to "shoot" a greeting to a friend, receive a pithy reply and close your inbox feeling content and connected? I now have three inboxes and I approach each of them with trepidation. Even my personal inbox is more like Pandora's box than a friendly greeting gatherer. … Continue reading End 2020 on the Path to the Ever-Ancient, Ever-New Normal

Let there Be Light: Thoughts on the Life-Giving, Death-Dealing Power of the Tongue

I'd just been paired with a stranger for one of those awful icebreakers at a conference in a Denver hotel. We stood among the other pairs, politely smiling, straining to hear each other in the din of the introductions going on all around us. He was a tall man, late sixties maybe, with thinning hair … Continue reading Let there Be Light: Thoughts on the Life-Giving, Death-Dealing Power of the Tongue

A Prayer Practice for the Anxious Heart

There are plenty of "hard sayings" in the Bible, but one I often puzzle over doesn't tend to make the lists offered for our reflection. It's Christ's directive to have no anxiety. What? I protest. Anxiously. A spiritual director once asked me point blank, "Why are you so anxious?" Momentarily stunned, I responded with a … Continue reading A Prayer Practice for the Anxious Heart

Recharge Wellness, Wonder and Spiritual Spark, Beginning with a One-Page Miracle

Whatever happens day by day as various authorities work out rules of re-entry in the tenuous phases of COVID-19 response, the easing of quarantine has many of us asking ourselves what we've learned from this experience so far, what we've lost and what we want to recover. Re-entry, whether to half-capacity churches, marked-off restaurant spaces … Continue reading Recharge Wellness, Wonder and Spiritual Spark, Beginning with a One-Page Miracle

Choose Something Like a Star: A Christmas Contemplation Inspired by Robert Frost

Starry skies call those who long for silence: leave the party, the mall, the jingle bell rock, the smart phone, the laptop and the trivial TV. Step outside. Look up. Robert Frost's 1943 poem “Choose Something Like a Star" speaks to our position beneath the glittering skyscape. Alone beneath the stars the poet addresses "the … Continue reading Choose Something Like a Star: A Christmas Contemplation Inspired by Robert Frost

Lamenting Notre Dame’s Losses: “Heaven in Stone and Glass”

When I heard, on Tuesday of Holy Week, that Notre Dame Cathedral was engulfed in flames, I immediately texted my oldest son, the family's intrepid world traveler who had just returned from Paris and had visited Notre Dame only days before. (We differ philosophically, but he graciously allowed me to share his photos in this … Continue reading Lamenting Notre Dame’s Losses: “Heaven in Stone and Glass”

How to Speak of Easter Joy without Harming the Humble Christ/Plus Easter Playlist

Swiss painter Eugène Burnand renders the confusion and hope of Peter and John’s first Easter morning with such poignancy. They’d learned of the resurrection from some women friends who’d been told by an angel, and particularly from Mary Magdalene, told by the risen Christ himself, to tell them.  And then they ran to see that tomb.  They wouldn’t … Continue reading How to Speak of Easter Joy without Harming the Humble Christ/Plus Easter Playlist

Holy Saturday: Harrowing the Hell in Our Hearts (plus more songs for Holy Week)

It was on a Holy Saturday about ten years back that I first saw an image of the "Harrowing of Hell," a depiction of Christ entering the realm of the dead and releasing the souls imprisoned there (1 Peter 3:19). We proclaim it in the Apostle's Creed:  Jesus Christ "suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, … Continue reading Holy Saturday: Harrowing the Hell in Our Hearts (plus more songs for Holy Week)