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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

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