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First World problems and simple pleasures

About one week ago, our dishwasher died. Well, it didn’t die completely; it just shut down mid-cycle no matter how many times we tried to make it work. And, boy, did we try. We spent a ridiculous amount of time running the normal cycle, hearing the telltale ding of an error and then re-running cycles — sometimes four or five in a row — in an effort to get the dishes clean, if not dry. Finally, we surrendered, accepting the fact that for the foreseeable future we had no dishwasher, thanks to a dearth of appointments with our warranty company. And so, this weekend, Dennis headed to the store to buy a drain rack so we could start doing dishes the old-fashioned way. Read more

Finding the blessing in a toilet in need of scrubbing

Most weekends I don’t look forward to the long list of things that need to get done. After a busy week at work and nights spent driving to and from appointments and classes and more, I want to do nothing. Plain and simple. And so I procrastinate and grumble and eventually do my chores begrudgingly, always thinking that as soon as I’m done — if only that magic moment would get here sooner – or ever! — I will finally have a few minutes to really enjoy my weekend.  Read more

Talking everyday prayer, grief, friendship and more

I had a great time on today’s episode of A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras of Reconciled to You. We covered a lot of bases, including three of my seven books: Everyday Divine, Parenting a Grieving Child, and Walking Together. It was a smorgasbord of my writing with a lot of fun and serious conversation mixed in. Thank you, Allison, for being such a wonderful supporter of Catholic writers and of this Catholic writer in particular.

If you missed the show, you can catch up here. And if you go to Allison’s website, you can catch an entire week of shows devoted to my books — Everyday Divine on Tuesday, Parenting a Grieving Child on Wednesday, and Walking Together on Thursday. Here’s the show:

 

Finding time for prayer when you have no time at all

Despite our best intentions, finding a block of time to get down to the practice of prayer can be difficult — that is if we think of prayer only as a formal task that requires us to be on our knees, preferably in a church, reciting specific words. But prayer is a conversation with God, no matter what words we use or if we use any words at all.

Listen in at the link below for a conversation — and some tips — about prayer based on my book Everyday Divine, from my April 8 appearance on the Morning Air Show on Relevant Radio. I’m the first one up, so you don’t need to fast forward to find me. Just hit play.

Mindfulness: It’s not just for Buddhists

I was featured in a story on mindfulness that’s running in the Catholic Courier of Rochester this week, so I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about this favorite spiritual topic of mine. I said a lot more than was quoted in the piece (not unusual given newspaper word counts), which also featured a Trappist monk from the Abbey of the Genesee, one of my favorite retreat places. If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you know that my journey into mindfulness (and sometimes back out of mindfulness when I’m getting sloppy or lazy) started with my “mindful oatmeal” practice from years ago and blossomed into two books related to the practice of mindfulness in daily prayer and daily life. With each step forward on this path, I become more convinced that this is the way to inner peace and a deeper relationship with God. And when I stray from that path everything becomes slightly out of balance and more frenetic.  Read more

Turning summer stress into meditation in motion

My latest Life Lines column running in the current issue of Catholic New York:

Every year, when summer rolls around, I vow to work less and play more, or at least give my kids the lion’s share of my attention. And every year, usually by early August, I wonder what went wrong. Dreams of hikes and fire pits and beaches have been replaced by the realities of doctor appointments and work deadlines and camp forms. At least two out of three kids are being neglected on any given day. Read more

Learning to be a beginner. Again and again.

Last night a friend invited me to join her at the nearby Dominican Retreat and Conference Center in Niskayuna for vespers sung in the spirit of Taize, a prayer style that uses repetitive, meditative singing. Although I was familiar with Taize, an ecumenical order that came out of France, I don’t think I had ever really experienced true Taize-style prayer. As with anything new, when we arrived at the chapel with its beautiful mural (pictured here) by Tomie de Paola, I wondered what it would be like. Would I know what to do? What if I didn’t know the songs? Would I just have to sit there and listen rather than participate, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a different thing. Read more

Setting life to a sacred rhythm

Lessons from the  monastics via Everyday Divine:

Start to look at the “life-rhythm” of your day. Is it totally out of balance, with most of your time spent running from one stressful moment to another? Or do you have a peaceful “refrain” that keeps the melody of your life from turning dissonant? Actively work toward bringing balance into your daily life by making prayer the thing you constantly come back to for refreshment, rest, and renewal.  Read more

Everyday Divine: a chapel on wheels

When I returned from my first silent retreat several years ago, I realized that my automatic response upon getting into the car was to turn up the radio. Loud. I wasn’t listening to anything spiritual, mostly the classic rock channel on my satellite radio. The experience of silence on retreat prompted me to give it a try while driving. Instead of singing all the way to and from my daughter’s preschool, I turned off the radio and allowed myself to sink into the quiet of my little makeshift chapel on wheels. Read more