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Spiritual medicine from a wise Trappist monk

The past few months have been quite a spiritual roller-coaster for me due to an experience in early summer that pushed me past the breaking point. I couldn’t even bring myself to attend Sunday Mass, something completely out of character for me. My family would head off to church, and I would stay behind, feeling cut off, unable to rouse the slightest spark of spiritual connection. Read more

Taking a vacation from technology

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this week when a headline made me pause—and click: “I almost let my journalism job destroy my marriage. Don’t make the same mistake,” it read. Although I’m no longer a journalist and I don’t think my marriage is on the verge of destruction due to my job, I do think my joy, my spiritual health and my life in general are teetering close to the brink because of the always-connected mentality of the modern world. And I know I’m not alone. Read more

The art of life, and the life of art

When I was young, I bought into the notion that I was not good at art, that we were not good at art, as if it were possible to classify an entire gene pool as bad at any particular thing. But the truth is that I was writing songs and my own version of poetry long before I hit high school. And although I didn’t think of it as such at the time, it was art, even if it was not the still-life-on-canvas type of art we might imagine when we hear the word. Read more

Recalculating: the story of my spiritual life

I think there are two kinds of people: those who trust their GPS implicitly and those who don’t. I fall into the latter group, always second guessing the instructions and striking out on my own as Katniss—yes, our GPS is named after the heroine in the “Hunger Games” series—patiently but insistently gives commands: turn left, take the second exit, stay right. More often than not, I respond with comments of my own: Are you crazy? Do you know how many lights are on that road? Never on a Saturday! And so Katniss is forever “recalculating.” 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

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

Clearing out clutter: sometimes a sock is just a sock

Back when Olivia was in preschool, she went through a brief period of hoarding. I’m not talking about holding on to too many favorite toys; I’m talking about hiding deflated balloons and broken plastic spoons in her nightstand, of “rescuing” used Dixie cups and even old tissues from the bathroom trash can because she couldn’t bear the thought of anything being thrown away. “Hon, I think she’s going to be writer,” her Montessori teacher said. And while I tried not to be offended by that evaluation, I have to admit there was probably some truth to it. Whether a writer or musician, artist or actor, creative types tend to see beauty where no one else does. Read more

Entertaining angels unaware

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

I’m not a big believer in coincidence. Rather, I see those unlikely moments and “chance” encounters that cross our paths—and sometimes change our lives—as something much more significant, as the movement of the Spirit. And although the Spirit is always swirling around us, even when we are unaware, when we actively open ourselves up to this grace and holy energy, we can expect the unexpected. Read more

Holding my breath and letting go

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

Fourteen years ago this month, I wrote my very first Life Lines column. It focused on my then-4-year-old son, Noah, and a summer nature program we had attended together and how in his own little way Noah was forcing me out of my comfort zone and teaching me new things about myself and the world around me.

This is what I wrote back then: Read more