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.
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
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 Dreams of hikes and fire pits and beaches have been replaced by the realities of doctor appointments and work deadlines and camp forms.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
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
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
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
“Your mission today, should you decide to accept it, is to start looking at your world through rose-colored glasses. Rather than focus on the crabgrass that’s ruining your lawn, marvel at the intricate beauty of the lowly dandelion. Instead of furrowing your brow in frustration when bees arrive on your picnic scene, focus on their awesome ability to gather nectar from the flowers in your yard and turn it into the golden honey that sweetens your tea.” — Everyday Divine, Chapter 6 Read more
When I wrote my last book, Everyday Divine: A Catholic Guide to Active Spirituality, my original plan was to develop some videos and other helpful tools to help readers and pray-ers put the written suggestions into prayer practice. This is a book about discovering the divine in the everyday, about praying not in the quiet of a chapel (although that’s necessary too), but in the chaos of household chores. It’s a book about finding God in the mundane moments of commuting to work, shopping for food, waiting in a doctor’s office, whatever often seems to pull us away from peace and serenity but actually has buried within it the kernel of contemplation. Read more
Isn’t it amazing how riding a bike is like…well…riding a bike? You really don’t forget. After not owning a bike for decades, not doing any serious riding save for a quick jaunt around the ‘hood on Dennis’ bike maybe once or twice in about 20 years, I find it simply incredible that I can hop on my new set of wheels (over there on the left) and set off on an 18-mile ride as if I’ve been doing it every day of my life. Sure my legs were a little wobbly when I dismounted, but come on, what else in life has such staying power as those bike-riding skills? Read more