Rembrandt’s Wordless Roadmap to the Soul

"Rembrandt goes so deep into the mysterious that he says things for which there are no words in any language," wrote Vincent van Gogh, who took the practice of signing his own works simply "Vincent" from van Rijn, the 17th Century Dutch Master who identified his work by his first name alone. I last visited the … Continue reading Rembrandt’s Wordless Roadmap to the Soul

Unselfconcious Icons: The Hidden Power of a Good Example in an Age of Bluster and Bling

On an ordinary day in the Denver photofinishing plant where I worked as a personnel clerk many years ago, one of the department heads came running into the manager's office across the hall from mine. "Somebody just puked in the restroom!" he exclaimed. "The custodian's at lunch and there's nobody to clean it up!" "Who? … Continue reading Unselfconcious Icons: The Hidden Power of a Good Example in an Age of Bluster and Bling

Conversion of a Candle in the Wind: The Woman at the Well and Me

On the surface my life seems more stable than hers. One husband, not five.  But I understand the Woman at the Well.  My heart is insatiable and wanders in all directions. I fall in love all the time, becoming passionately absorbed with pretty much anything or anyone. A new friend, a big idea, a chance for … Continue reading Conversion of a Candle in the Wind: The Woman at the Well and Me

Christ’s Naked Humility vs. All Our Cloaks and Crowns

When Jesus looked at lilies, He saw beauties fit for contemplation. “They don't toil or spin,” He pointed out, “but even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as one of these.” One greater than Solomon had spoken. From eternity, He was “clothed in light as with a garment,” yet the Virgin's fiat gave … Continue reading Christ’s Naked Humility vs. All Our Cloaks and Crowns

Human Praise: The Tempered View of Christ

Very early in John’s gospel (2:23-25), just after the wedding at Cana and the first cleansing of the temple, we read that “many believed in [Christ] when they saw the signs that he was doing.” Those must have been exhilarating days for the disciples who first left everything they had to follow him. Numbers seem … Continue reading Human Praise: The Tempered View of Christ

Flannery O’Connor Exposes Our Judgmental Hearts, Preparing Us for Grace

If there was a scripture haunting the protagonist of Flannery O'Connor's "Greenleaf," it was Romans 14:10. For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Religious without humility, Mrs. May--a widow intent on protecting her land--would offer a resolute, "I've worked, I have not wallowed" in the presence of her Judge. Then there's … Continue reading Flannery O’Connor Exposes Our Judgmental Hearts, Preparing Us for Grace

Conversion as Shrinking: Mrs. Zebedee, the Sons of Thunder and a Little Child

When James and John, the "Sons of Thunder," left their nets to follow Christ, their dad stood in the boat and watched them walk away. I've often wondered whether old Zebedee thundered or stood thunderstruck as James and John left the family business, choosing an uncertain future with the Fisher of Men over the inheritance … Continue reading Conversion as Shrinking: Mrs. Zebedee, the Sons of Thunder and a Little Child

Beyond the Résumé and the Eulogy: Virtue, the Little Way

It was almost 20 years ago when I entered the small-town high school gym and found a seat with a good view. The seniors waited in cap and gown for a slightly off-key band to begin "Pomp and Circumstance." And the banner above the platform proudly proclaimed, "The question isn't are we ready for the … Continue reading Beyond the Résumé and the Eulogy: Virtue, the Little Way

Screwtape’s Diabolical Tips for Advancing in Pride: Be Smug, Superior and Politically Divisive

"In the early days of World War II, an odd book appeared in England and America," Thomas Howard writes in his introduction to the fiction of C.S. Lewis.  "It seemed to be a collection of letters from an old devil to a younger one, telling him how to handle a man who had been assigned … Continue reading Screwtape’s Diabolical Tips for Advancing in Pride: Be Smug, Superior and Politically Divisive

Mary Oliver’s Thirst: A Humble Heart Revealed

Poet Mary Oliver evokes the paradoxical quality of living in the "now" and the "not yet." She draws us into a humble yearning. Oliver's spot-on specificity reveals an attentive, light-but-longing heart (see Morning Glories, Beside the Waterfall, and The Hermit Crab). The poet meets us on human dignity's common ground. We listen to the heart of … Continue reading Mary Oliver’s Thirst: A Humble Heart Revealed