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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

After the feast, before the frenzy: Restoring serenity to your plate as the holiday season sets in

I don’t know about you, but I’m still full from yesterday’s Thanksgiving eat-a-thon. I can’t even think about food. Except for those pies on the counter. And the stuffing. Cold stuffing eaten right from the fridge. Oh, and wait, didn’t we have some leftover brie? Yeah, it’s going to a be a long and fattening weekend if I don’t rein in the cravings before they set me on a course to eat my way through the holiday season. Read more

What would you change about your body?

I saw this last night on a friend’s Facebook page (Thanks, Flo) and had to share. It’s another one of those things that just hit home. It reminded me of the many conversations I’ve had surrounding my book Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God.

When adults are asked what they would change about their bodies, the lists go on and on. We are so hard on ourselves. When children are asked the same question, well, they wish for things like mermaid tails and teleportation. Today I challenge you to see yourself with the eyes of a child. What fantastic feature would you add? Or maybe you wouldn’t change a thing. How refreshing would it be to feel that way? These kids will show you how.

Wisdom Wednesday: Heart of Darkness

Today’s Wisdom Wednesday is brought to you by Thomas Merton:

“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us… It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely…I have no program for this seeing.  It is only given.  But the gate of heaven is everywhere.” – Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

 

Wisdom Wednesday: The ‘mental picture’ of your life

Last week, after our date-night dinner, Dennis and I stood on the Albany side of the Hudson looking out and, as I usually do, I pointed to a beautiful steeple on the Rensselaer side of the river and wondered what church it might be.

On this particular night, Dennis decided to solve the mystery and drove across the bridge to the church you see there on the left, St. John the Evangelist-St. Joseph, just down the street from the train station. We caught a beautiful sunset from that spot and found a lovely little garden dedicated to St. Padre Pio. And so I thought I’d share some Wednesday Wisdom from that beloved Italian saint:  Read more

Going gray: Showing my true colors

I don’t like fake things. Never have. I guess that’s why ever since I started regularly coloring my hair a little more than a year or so ago (before that I would do occasional color “rinses”), I felt a little bit like an impostor, like I was wearing a mask. I’m lucky, in a sense. I inherited my mother’s hair genes (as opposed to her colon genes, thank God), and so my hair didn’t even begin to gray until I neared 50, and even then, it was just a sprinkling of silver strands in a riot of curls. Not very noticeable. But our culture tells women to fear the gray. Any gray. Read more

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