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Remembering Thomas Merton

Ever since I first came in contact with the writings of Thomas Merton almost 30 years ago, he has spoken to me. I know I’m not alone there. Countless people of every faith and persuasion have found meaning in his writings and his life. Of course, others will counter that with claims that he was too flawed to be held up as a role model, or, dare I say, saint, but that’s precisely why he’s a great example. Read more

The Catholic Worker and the Quiet Beatle

Today we honor two of my favorites: Dorothy Day and George Harrison, a seemingly unlikely pairing on the surface but not such an odd couple when you dig a little deeper. Day died on this day in 1980, and Harrison died on this day in 2001, forever linking the gritty would-be saint and the decidedly sage-like musician. At least in my book. Read more

Why would you refuse to dance with grace?

Okay, I’ll admit that when I first saw this clip, I was drawn in by the Hafiz poem, one of my favorites. Because when I grow up, I want to be the sage who has to duck her head when the moon is low. But then I kept watching, and I have to tell you that this video is so good from top to bottom it gives me goosebumps.

“I feel so badly for those people who would come to this party that is Christianity and refuse to dance with grace,” says Glennon Doyle Melton, author of Carry On Warrior (a great book, by the way).

Five minutes is all it takes. Watch it, and then decide to dance. (And you can read the full Hafiz poem under the YouTube link below.)

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What’s holding you back? #FindIggy

They had me at St. Ignatius bobblehead.

Head over to Find Your Inner Iggy to see how you might win some grand prizes today, the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola. The founder of the Jesuits is the inspiration for this fun-yet-serious campaign to help people find God at work in their lives today. In much the same way that St. Ignatius discovered God in unlikely places in his life almost 500 years ago. 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

Wednesday Wisdom: Be moldable but immovable

“And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand.” Matthew 7:26

The majestic Adirondack Mountains and the vast Atlantic Ocean are both easily reachable from my home, so this line from the Gospel and the fuller Gospel story (Matthew 7:21-29) elicit some powerful imagery for me. In an instant I am on the beach, where the shoreline constantly changes because of gentle winds or powerful storms. With the crash of even the smallest wave, sand gives way beneath your feet and you can lose your balance.

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What’s so bad about rose-colored glasses?

“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

A kernel of contemplation buried within the chaos

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