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Lessons on letting go from a laptop labyrinth

My latest Life Lines column:

I was at the tail end of a silent weekend retreat a few weeks ago when I began reaching my silent prayer saturation point. Although the Dominican Retreat Center in Niskayuna, N.Y., was the perfect place for a spiritual respite, I’m used to taking my doses of silence in the summer when long walks on quiet paths or the rhythmic paddling of a kayak across a perfectly still lake help ease the what-should-I-do-now syndrome that sometimes sets in for me. Silence is not my natural habitat, so I need all the outside help I can get. Read more

What’s in your gratitude journal?

I haven’t kept a gratitude journal with any long-term success over the years, despite knowing the benefits. In my latest Life Lines column (now running in the current issues of Catholic New York and the Catholic Spirit) I explore why and give you a peek inside: 

The Advent and Christmas seasons tend to make us more grateful and more giving. At this time of year, when we’re abundantly aware of children who want nothing more than a pair of mittens or a warm winter coat, we seem to recognize how lucky we are. We collect boxes of stuffing and bottles of gravy for our parish food pantry and take tags off the Giving Tree so that others will have for one day what we have every day. And in those moments we are humbled by our blessings and all too aware of the fact that we often remain blissfully unaware of those same blessings the other 11 months of the year. Read more

A Moveable Feast: finding family far from home

It’s been almost three weeks since I returned from Italy, and I still haven’t managed to write any posts about the experience or trade my Euro for U.S. currency. That changes today. Well, the writing part does, at least. I’m holding onto the Euro as seed money for the next pilgrimage.  I’ll try to serve up several Moveable Feast posts in days to come about various cities and favorite moments from our fabulous pilgrimage. To get us started, here’s my latest Life Lines column…

It’s interesting how, even when we’re far from our loved ones and friends, we often find ways to create family right where we are, without blood connections, without a shared history. Whether we’re students living in a college dormitory, workers temporarily assigned to a far-off location, or pilgrims traveling in a strange land, we tend to seek out community, a place where we feel accepted and protected, or at least a little less alone. Read more

Marriage: It’s hard work, if it’s done right

In honor of Sister Anne Bryan Smollin, CSJ, who died last week, I thought I would run this Life Lines column from last July. It was sparked by the marriage workshop she offered in the Albany Diocese. The column also ties in nicely with my chat this morning on the Morning Air Show on Relevant Radio. I was talking about marriage and faith. At the end of this column is a link to a follow-up piece I wrote called “Prescription for a Better Marriage: Start dating.” Read more

It’s about the journey, not the destination

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

I’m a wannabe hiker. And a wannabe camper and kayaker, for that matter. Although I’ve done a little of all of those things, I’m no expert.

A writing colleague who knew I was clamoring for a hike messaged me one night and asked if I wanted to join her for a beginner trip to Huckleberry Point in the Catskills. With a little appointment juggling and a lot of assistance from my husband, Dennis, I said yes, packed a lunch, and dusted off my hiking boots. Read more

Mary Undoer of Knots, I’ve got a job -or two- for you

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

Back when I was young, my mother would take me over to the chapel at St. Aedan’s Church in Pearl River every Monday night for novena. Although the Mary-centered prayer was part of my young spiritual consciousness, after my mother died and I moved away from home, I packed up my interest in novenas along with my old stuffed animals and Barbie dolls. It felt like something that belonged to my childhood, something I’d outgrown. Read more

Finding long-lost memories in a dresser drawer

My March “Life Lines” column running in the current issue of Catholic New York:

I decided to clean out some dresser drawers last weekend, and mixed in with the shirts I no longer wear and the silks scarves I forgot I had were little pieces of my past. Noah’s handprint in clay from when he was just a year old. A puffy foam heart necklace made by Chiara for a Mother’s Day gone by. Olivia’s old letters to Santa and one to the Tooth Fairy demanding to know what she does with all those teeth anyway. Read more

Making others in our own image

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

Someone saw a photo of me with my son, Noah, on Facebook recently and told me that he could tell from the subtlest look on my face that I was annoyed with my teenager. I knew without question that I wasn’t mad when that photo was taken. In fact, I was in a great mood that day, but I guess the camera captured me at the exact wrong moment, when something made my expression look less than happy. Read more

Never forget. Remembering like it was yesterday.

Yesterday a friend asked people if we could remember where we were at that horrible moment 12 years ago today. I was putting laundry away in the top drawer of my bedroom dresser when the phone rang. My father-in-law called to tell me to turn on the television. It feels like it was just yesterday, and it feels like a lifetime ago, but that morning is etched on my heart, as it is for most of us. Here’s the Life Lines column I wrote 12 years ago, in the days following 9/11. So much has changed since that horrible morning, and yet, for me, this column still resonates with things that feel very much in tune with our world today. 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