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Brokenness lets us see where true beauty lies

My “Soul Seeing” column, running in the current issue of the National Catholic Reporter:

If you look around my office prayer space or on my bedroom dresser, you’ll notice one constant: broken conch and whelk shells everywhere. Small and blue-gray, large and sun-bleached, twisting, turning, spiraling in that gorgeous and mysterious way that seashells do. Although I have one perfect channeled whelk shell that I purchased in Cape May, N.J., years ago, my prized possessions are broken shells of every shape and size because, as far as I’m concerned, they are far more beautiful than the ones that are perfectly intact and so lovely on the outside. Read more

The lighter side of darkness

So yesterday’s post was pretty heavy, I guess, and I was reflecting on it as I went about my day and thinking about the depths of the darkness. And I realized something, I noticed markers, I guess you could call them, that to me are signals that I have not yet reached a level of depression that is beyond hope. What markers? Read more

Are you making the same resolution over and over? Try a new approach. Getting fit is an inside job.

As we head into another new year and people everywhere jump on the diet and fitness resolution bandwagon, I thought I’d rewind to last year at this time when everyone was probably making the exact same resolutions and I was talking about our real cravings and how to conquer eating issues without counting calories. So often our hunger has nothing to do with cookies or potato chips or eggnog. It has to do with our understanding of ourself and our place in the world and a hunger for inner peace and joy. We just use food to fill the void. Read more

What is the end you’re living for?

I was searching for something in my digital files and came across this column from January 2012. It seemed to ring true all over again, although, to be honest, I had totally forgotten about it — both the words and the lessons. So here it is again, if only for myself.

It amazes me sometimes how a casual comment, a familiar smell or the sound of a name we haven’t heard in a while can send us spiraling back in time to a place or event we’d long ago forgotten. Memories linger on our hearts. Some we’d like to preserve forever; some we wish would stay hidden. Good or bad, they are too often the things that shape us. Read more

Remembering Thomas Merton

Ever since I first came in contact with the writings of Thomas Merton about 28 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

Show me how big your brave is

All of my regular readers here at NSS know that honesty is the name of the game. I always try to tell you the truth, even when it’s not easy or pretty. You’ve been to some dark spiritual places with me. And I try to be that way in life — honest. Just ask the prison chaplains who sat through about 90 minutes of honest yesterday. But sometimes, despite all the best attempts at honesty, there’s a sliver of truth that gets left out, something we’re afraid to say because we think hearing the words out loud would shake us to the core.  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

Are you brave enough to take off your cape?

“It’s braver to be Clark Kent than it is to be Superman.” That’s the heart of this amazing talk by Glennon Doyle Melton, author of Carry on Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed and my new hero. In fact, she is a superhero in my book. Please watch this clip, “Lessons From the Mental Hospital.” Yes, it’s 17 minutes long and worth every minute of your time. She is amazing. Because she speaks the truth, a truth we all need to hear, even if we are not quite ready to acknowledge it yet. Read more

Life in My 50s: Reclaim your joy, your truth, your life

I find this whole midlife, midcentury thing to be more interesting than I originally expected when I hit the big 5-0 last fall. What I’m finding is that it’s not so much a rebirth but a birth, plain and simple. I’m being born into the second half of my life, or what I hope will be the second half of my life if I have genes even remotely like my paternal grandmother, who is 100. This birth is difficult and exciting and painful, as any birth might be. At every turn I find myself up against an “old” or current version of myself. Is this where I want to be? Where should I go next, and how do I get there? I find myself wanting to redirect the path and reclaim various parts of my life — my time, my style, my joy,  my truth. But, in the words of Pilate, what is truth? Read more