Truth to Tell


Expressing gratitude is something I had always taken for granted.  By that I mean that I just did it when I remembered (like sending thank-you notes), but otherwise didn’t think much about it.  I certainly never considered expressing gratitude to be a spiritual discipline.  And the possibility that such expressions might be therapeutic never occurred to me.

But recently that changed
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Have you ever noticed that anxiety seems to have a life of its own?
When I’m anxious I have a sense of a storm growing inside me.  My thoughts run away from me, creating a doomsday scenario of ferocious winds whipping up dark clouds and heavy seas into a fearsome storm.
Over the years, what I’ve found most helpful is to develop self-awareness.  In other words, to both pay attention and to, and detach from, what’s going inside my head.
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A few days ago, as I was going through boxes that hadn’t been opened in years, I ran across this little sculpture that my daughter made in a high school pottery class.  As I held this little figure in my hand I was transported back to that time in my life.  I was a single parent with one child in high school and another in college.  And I held a high-pressure job for which I wasn’t particularly well-suited, but which paid the bills.  It always seemed that the days were a blur of scheduling activities, carpooling, and traveling around the country for work.

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Imagining Christmas

To refresh your memory of the ancient story that holds us all enthrall this time of year, read Luke 1:2-55; 2:1-20. As you reflect on the Christmas readings from Luke’s gospel, I invite you to use your imagination to call to mind and into your heart some of the people who have been important to you, and who may or may not be with you right now. As you do that, you’ll be guided by several of the characters youâ’ve met in this ancient story. First, the Angel Gabriel who invites Mary to do the impossible and assures her that…

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

It’s the fourth Sunday of Advent, a day that falls pretty much in the middle of my favorite period in the season –  the week of the O Antiphons.  The O Antiphons are verses that are sung or chanted at vespers from December 17-23. They are called the O Antiphons because each of these short verses begins with the word, or letter, O, and addresses Christ by a different title: O Wisdom, O Adonai, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Radiant Dawn, O King of Nations, O Emmanuel. The hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is based…

Speak Tenderly…

I’m tired. I hear this every day.  I hear it from family caregivers who miss the opportunities for the much needed breaks they once had in the “Before Times” when people could come into their home to relieve them for a few hours. I hear it from the newly bereaved whose grief is complicated by pandemic-induced social distancing mandates that come at a time when they need to be physically close to those they love.  I hear it from front line health care workers and teachers and therapists and pastors and activists. I hear it from parents who are desperately…

Facing Grief

Our apple tree is losing its leaves.  It’s far too early in the season for this to be happening. Now, it must be said that this thought comes to me every year.  Some of the leaves on this particular tree often start to yellow at the very end of July or early August, their weariness increasing gradually through September until they can no longer hold on and finally, fall to the ground.

But this year seems different.  I can’t explain why; perhaps it’s due to the unusually hot and dry conditions we’ve experienced this summer.

Lilac’s Lesson

It’s June and the chervil is in full bloom. Oh, those delicate white flowers might look harmless enough.  And a single flower may well be of no consequence. But this noxious weed multiplies quickly and can grow to a stunning six feet.  It fills the field beside my yard.  All I can see behind my falling-down wooden fence is the ragged phalanx of chervil threatening to choke out my beloved fledgling hedge of young lilac bushes. I do everything in my power to tame the floral invader and keep it at bay.  Even so, chaos looms at the edge of…