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Moving Meditation: the sacred rhythm of raking

I love to rake. I love everything about it — the sound of the rake scratching against the earth, the smell of the autumn air, the pre-winter peacefulness that seems to be settling into all of nature at this time of year, the crispy brown oak leaves swirling against a steely gray November sky and filling my path as fast as I try to clear it. Read more

I think I met Jesus this morning

I walked down to the Mission District in San Francisco today to visit the original Mision San Francisco de Asis, more commonly known as Mission Dolores because it’s near the Creek of Sorrows, Arroyo de los Dolores. After wandering through a beautiful old cemetery and the newer basilica, built in the early 1900s, I found my way to the chapel (first building erected in San Francisco) just as people were leaving daily Mass.

I waited for everyone to clear out and then went closer to the altar to get some photos. That’s when I noticed an old woman sitting in a pew, skull cap pulled far down on her head, raggedy oversized clothes, big bag full of something at her side. She had all the markings of a homeless woman and our eyes met and we both smiled and I said hello and walked on by. But for some reason, just as I was about to leave, something — perhaps the echo of “Whatsoever you do…” that was running through my head at that moment —  told me to go back. And so I did. Read more

For people who spend so much time in prison, they sure are fun — and inspiring

I had the honor of addressing 50 Catholic prison chaplains on retreat at Notre Dame Retreat House in Canandaigua, N.Y., this week. And while my presentation was meant to give them a spiritual lift and maybe a little levity — I am totally goofy when I get up there in front of an audience. Go figure. — the truth is that they were the ones who did just that for me. The Spirit works in amazing ways, and there is no doubt in my mind that I was meant to be exactly in that place at that moment this week. And I need to thank them for welcoming me so graciously but also for teaching me and sharing with me and laughing with me and reminding me what is so wonderful and beautiful about the individual Catholics who make up the Body of Christ. Read more

Creating Calm Amid Life’s Chaos

Well, I didn’t plan for this confluence of events, but, as is often the case, the Spirit took care of that for me. Today I’ll be out in Canandaigua, New York, talking to 70 Catholic prison chaplains about “Creating Calm Amid Life’s Chaos.” Couldn’t have come at a better time, what with this week getting off to a somewhat chaotic start here at Not Strictly Spiritual. Read more

Ready to paddle my way to an unknown adventure

Ever since moving to upstate New York almost 13 years ago, I’ve wanted to try kayaking. Finally, earlier this year, I got my chance when we took Chiara’s Brownie Troop camping up near Lake George. Little Girl Scouts aside, it was so peaceful and lovely as I quietly paddled around in the sunshine, and I knew I wanted to do it again. And I secretly thought, Wouldn’t it be fun to have my own kayak? But how was that ever going to happen when I don’t know the first thing about kayaks? Read more

Come with me to Italy and feed your body and soul

Dear Fellow Adventurer,

For most of my adult life, I dreamed of going to Italy. I wanted to pray in St. Peter’s Basilica. I wanted to know the country of my grandfather’s birth. I wanted to eat the delicious food that had inspired so many family meals when I was growing up. Three years ago, when I stepped onto the streets of Rome for the first time, I cried from the sheer joy of being there, and I knew right then that I’d have to return some day soon. Italy had captured my heart! Read more

Scenes from a Manhattan book signing

As you know, I had a book signing at Pauline Books & Media on West 38th Street in Manhattan this week. Here’s a glimpse of the goings on… Read more

Join me at my Manhattan book signing Feb. 27

Stop by Pauline Books & Media, 64 West 38th Street in Manhattan, on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 6:30 p.m. for a book signing to celebrate the release of my two new books, Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God, and Everyday Divine: A Catholic Guide to Active Spirituality. Read more

‘Take and eat.’ The food-faith connection and Jesus

Today’s reader question is one I had hoped to address during the CNN interview, but we ran out of time. So I’m happy to address it now. Here’s the question:

“Someone told me that every time Jesus had an important teaching, food was present. Do you think He was just getting people to listen or is there something special about eating together when we pray?” Read more