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Lighting the Advent wreath: just hit pause

My reflection on the Advent wreath, from the current issue of Give Us This Day:

Lighting the Advent wreath each night for prayers before dinner has long been my family’s tradition. The flickering candlelight growing brighter with each passing week mirrors the interplay of darkness and light we see outside our kitchen window at this time of year. There is something both haunting and comforting about a single flickering candle or two dancing against the velvety darkness. Our brief pause as we light a candle and offer a prayer opens up just enough space in our jam-packed lives to let the beauty of Advent edge its way into our souls. Read more

Entering Advent, sometimes kicking and screaming

If you’ve been a reader of this blog since the early days, you know my family has had some Advent struggles over the years. There was the time we needed to start Advent with a coin toss, and the time I canceled Advent as punishment. Yeah, we like to keep things interesting. But, I have to admit that I get sort of melancholy when I read about those days. Life moves by so quickly, and, before you know it, opening the doors on a calendar just doesn’t hold the same fascination. Enjoy it while you can. Read more

An ‘attitude of gratitude’ can reshape your life

German mystic Meister Eckhart once said, “If the only prayer you said your whole life was ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

Gratitude has that kind of power, not just in prayer, but in the most ordinary moments of our lives. When we are thankful, grateful and appreciative of what we have— even for the things that don’t necessarily warrant a special thank-you prayer—we tend to be more generous, loving, patient and kind toward others.  Read more

Yoga, the True Self, and fear of change

Three times in my life — three, count ’em — I have either started to train as a yoga teacher (back in Austin in the 1980s), started the application process to train as a yoga teacher (in Albany a few years ago), or stood on the very edge of making a decision to train as a yoga teacher (at Heartspace in Albany this past September). Every single time I let myself get in my own way by getting inside my own head and talking myself out of what I know without question would be a life-changing, soul-lifting, completely transforming experience. And I’m not even talking about the part where I would become a certified yoga teacher. I’m talking about the part where this training would finally force (in the gentlest way possible, of course) me to face me, to face the True Self I’m always writing about and talking about but afraid to confront in a totally open way. Read more

Life in my 50s: don’t tell me what to wear

This morning I posted the link below partly to make a point and partly because it was funny. A comment left on my post in all caps, telling me never to wear a backless dress, perhaps meant as a joke, perhaps not, has inspired me to share not only the photo of the backless dress I wore a few months ago at age 53 over there on the left (I’m 54 now, way past the 30-year cut-off referenced in the story below), but I’m also posting the duct tape backless bra I created to make wearing the backless dress possible. Because I’m just that crafty and creative. Read more

Spiritual lessons at 65 miles per hour

I was driving to Rochester last week to give a talk to the local chapter of Magnificat, and I decided to make the trip into a mini-retreat of sorts. I brought along a recording by renowned theologian and writer Henri Nouwen called “The Spirituality of Waiting.” It wasn’t a new talk for me, but I decided it was time for a refresher, since waiting is not one of my strong suits. Read more

The only master that matters

My reflection from Give Us This Day today:

Truth and trust. I’m guessing that for most of us these two words stir up powerful emotions, whether close to the surface of our souls or buried deep within. Perhaps we still feel the sting of a trust that was betrayed, a truth that was twisted, leaving us devastated and permanently scarred. Or perhaps, just as painful but in a completely different way, we were on the other side of the equation, bringing damage and destruction to a relationship or even our own inner peace because of a sin or a weakness that caused us to choose omission over honesty, betrayal over loyalty, lies over truth. Read more

9/11: Remembering like it was yesterday

Here’s the Life Lines column I wrote 15 years ago, in the days following 9/11. So much has changed since that time. Our world has changed. My family has changed. And yet, for me, this column still resonates with things that feel very much in tune with our world right now. Here’s wishing all of you, all of us a future of peace — peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, peace on our planet. Read more

Do you hear what I hear?

I woke up the other night to a fierce thunderstorm and the sound of rain tapping on the aluminum-wrapped windowsill, and I smiled as I rolled over. As I drifted off to sleep, I remember thinking in the back of my overtired brain that it was not so long ago that the same tap-tapping—a byproduct of our new-and-improved windows—made me crazy, so crazy we had to hang a towel over the sill and close the window on it to muffle it. But, over time, the sound became familiar and comforting rather than strange and infuriating. Read more

Honored, grateful to make top-25 list of bloggers

I opened my Twitter feed yesterday to find this message posted by The Clearing, a spiritual wellness website:

“Read why @MaryDTP is one of our top 25 blogs on #spiritual wellness.”

And I was like, wait, what? So I clicked on the link that took me to a list of the “top 25 spiritual wellness bloggers,” and there I was, slipped in among some of the most wonderful and inspiring contemporary spiritual wellness/wholeness writers and thinkers: Louise Hay, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Danielle LaPorte, Krista Tippett. And me?!? How did that happen? I’m still not sure. I just know I am beyond overwhelmed and grateful that anyone, anywhere would include me and my blog — this blog! — on that list. I’m not worthy. And I’m especially honored to be the Catholic writer representing on that list. Preach.
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