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Summer vacation for the soul

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.” Mark 6:31

Today’s Gospel reading reminded me of my fabulous five-day retreat and the Life Lines column I wrote about making sure you take time apart to recharge your spiritual life this summer. I’ll be back in the days ahead with some reflections — and photos — from my stay at St. Mary’s on the Lake in gorgeous Lake George, N.Y. So here’s my column, which is running in the current issue of Catholic New York. Let me know in the comment section what you’ll be doing this summer to recharge. (That photo to the left was taken from my favorite prayer/journaling spot on a cliff overlooking Lake George.) Read more

On retreat: Finding beauty in our brokenness

I was so blessed to give a retreat day at Mariandale Retreat and Conference Center in Ossining, N.Y., this weekend. A beautiful location with wonderful people. And great food. With seashells scattered around the room and prayer intentions overflowing our sea-themed bowl, we dove into the topic of brokenness and discovered a wholeness there. At least that’s what we were aiming for. And we did “collage as prayer,” one of my favorite things to do these days. It seemed to be a hit among the retreat participants as well. There’s something about cutting and gluing in silence that is soothing and centering. And it always seems to lead to at least a smidgen of self-discovery. Read more

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

Day one of a virtual retreat for couples. Join us!

It’s not too late! If you start right now, you and your spouse can participate in a virtual seven-day marriage retreat that will take you right up to Valentine’s Day. Well, technically it will take you to Friday the 13th, but let’s not go there. Read more

Wisdom Wednesday: You know how to be brave

The song “Colours” by Margo Rey has been a favorite on my iTunes play list for quite a while now, but last weekend’s Christian Mothers’ Retreat in Syracuse was the first time I wove the song into one of my presentations. It was a hit, as I guessed it would be. Quite a few women came up to me after my talk and asked for the song’s title and artist. I knew it would tie in perfectly with a religious retreat despite the fact that it is a secular song because it speaks to the heart and to something I think so many women confront in their lives: learning to love themselves for who they are and to step into their own skin once and for all and be brave, no matter what may or may not be going on in the background or center stage of their lives, no matter how they think they’ve failed, no matter what the outside world pushes them to be. Read more

Manic Monday: Oh, wait. It’s Twisted Tuesday.

Headline says it all. It’s going to be one of THOSE weeks. Between my out-of-town travel for a weekend retreat and the holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I am totally thrown off. I’d like to put out a blanket apology for any appointments or events I miss today — or this week — because it’s going to happen. I will be one day off until next Monday. So here’s how things stand on this Twisted Tuesday. Read more

Butterflies in winter: the soul clings to life

It’s amazing how the soul finds what the soul needs.

When I was on silent retreat last month, I sat in the dining room on our final morning, staring out the window at the peaceful, frozen landscape. In the front yard of the Dominican Retreat and Conference Center in Niskayuna (yes, this place is becoming a perennial favorite in my posts) amid the many barren trees and evergreens was one lone tree still covered entirely in leaves — dead, brown leaves hanging ever-so-delicately yet ever-so-resiliently from its sprawling limbs.  Read more

Collage as prayer: cutting and pasting my way to God

Sometimes losing our serious adult demeanor for a bit and doing childlike things can take us deeper into our spiritual center than any book on prayer ever could. Case in point: I spent Saturday armed with scissors and a glue stick, cutting and pasting — and praying. Although I’d done collages before on my own, back when I was working my way through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I had never used the art form as a way to deepen my spiritual life. Until this past weekend when I headed back to the Dominican Retreat and Conference Center in Niskayuna, my new favorite spiritual place, for a six-hour workshop called “Collage as Prayer.” I convinced one friend to join me and then met up by chance with another once I got there. We had a great group of women, probably about a dozen of us or so, led by Sister Ethel. The result? Two collages and a whole lot of insights into myself and my spiritual journey.  Read more

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