(I just sent this as an email to my subscribers.) I love words. As the old year draws to an end, I choose a word that I hope will have resonance in the year ahead. I used to choose the words myself, but for the last few years I've embraced the idea of using a random word generator. My … [Read more...] about Choosing a Word for 2022, Happy New Year!
Bread is so elemental! Issues about gluten aside, bread has long been regarded as the staff of life. Loaves of bread appear frequently in the Bible, from Jesus' first temptation to his last supper. One of the best known of Jesus' miracles is that he fed hungry crowds -- 5,000 people or more -- by … [Read more...] about Quotations about Bread — fodder for sermons on John 6:1-21
Later today I'm headed to Holy Cross Abbey for a week of silence. The guesthouse closed to the public in March and reopened at half capacity just two weeks ago -- so I'm taking a silent retreat originally scheduled for late April. I began doing monastic retreats in 2004 so they're part of my … [Read more...] about Even Silence Is Different During this Pandemic
A very personal essay about mothers and mortality. How can we celebrate Eastertide during a time of COVID-19? In the May 5, 2020 print edition of Christian Century, online here. … [Read more...] about What Language Can I Borrow?
(I wrote this for Easter 2020, but it's still applicable in Easter 2021. Published in The Christian Century.) Yesterday was Good Friday. Instead of working on a sermon or reading scripture to follow Jesus along the Via Dolorosa, I spent hours on the phone with my elderly mother, trying to help … [Read more...] about Easter during a Pandemic
Drinking has changed, which is one reason I needed to quit drinking. In the late 1970s when I was in college, my friends and I drank cheap beer which we bought by the pitcher and shared. We rarely drank wine, other than an occasional bottle of sangria, which we repurposed as a candleholder when it … [Read more...] about Why I Quit Drinking
I come from a long line of coffee-drinkers, which made it hard to quit caffeine. My parents drank coffee with every meal and frequently in between. At age 16 I started drinking it too, following my mother's advice to forego any sweetener. Coffee-drinking is a lifetime activity so its best to fend … [Read more...] about Why I Quit Caffeine
Do you sometimes have body memories -- that is, memories triggered by bodily experiences? Today I sat down in a dentist chair, opened my mouth for Abby, my dental hygienist, and was pierced by grief and a sense of doom. My body seemed to recall -- more clearly than my mind -- a teeth cleaning … [Read more...] about Body Memories of Grief
My little church experienced two unexpected deaths in two weeks -- fatal heart attacks of otherwise healthy persons. During that same period, a good friend of mine was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died within a month. I did all the things a pastor does. I visited hospitals and put … [Read more...] about When Grief Sucks Us Dry: A Funeral & “Fun Home” On the Same Day
Do you know someone who is struggling with infertility? Perhaps this is the story you live, but hide from others. Or perhaps you have a different but similar sort of heartache. Do you know the feelings of repeated loss and grief, which bring a sense of hopelessness? My friend Elizabeth Hagan has … [Read more...] about BIRTHED: Finding Grace through Infertility, a book review
You know how some people would "do anything for you"? My sister Susan is making that phrase real. She is donating her kidney to a woman who attends her church. That's right -- one Sunday during Announcements, it was reported that Buddi, a refugee from Nepal whom the church was assisting, needed a … [Read more...] about Please Pray for a Kidney Transplant