Author Archives: Doug, the patient.

Manic Maundy: How you can prevent waging a personal war-on-Easter.

ora et labora

It is springtime and it seems the hectic demands I usually have around Christmas are beginning to over take Holy Week as well.  Besides my normal work obligations I have time sensitive art projects, volunteer work, some important events with my friends and of course, church services.  I feel like I am waging my own personal  war on Easter trying to figure out what the most Christian choices I can make are.  I suspect that I am not at all alone in this.  I find myself asking familiar questions about what Christianity is all, “about,” Continue reading

Face-Palm Sunday: How sincerity can keep Christians from being Christian.

Nearly every Palm Sunday sermon I heard growing up emphasized the inevitable hypocrisy of those  who would be shouting Jesus’ praise on one day and crying “crucify him!” just days later.  During these sermons I always pictured the crowds as wicked bearded villains (perhaps with pirate hats?).

I most certainly never pictured them being anything like me.   That is why it was so confusing when, without any sense of irony,  we all picked up Palm leaves and cried, “Hosannah!” just like those bearded hypocrite-pirates that we knew turned on Jesus later.  I knew that there were sides but I lost track of whose side to be on. Sunday? Friday? Continue reading

Five Things I Will Never Give Up for Lent.

Lent is pulling into the station and Holy week is just about to begin. I think there are lessons and moments of clarity I have discovered this year just by slowing some things down and cutting some things out. Part of what I have learned about the careful dance between God’s grace and our participation is the difference between trying to make things happen and making room for God and others to do things in us. I offer these in hope you can learn from my mistakes.  These are some of my lenten attempts that, surprisingly, have proven to be enemies of grace. Continue reading

Rinse and Repeat:  How to find God …in the kitchen sink.

Dishes

Dishes (Photo credit: Martin Cathrae)

Until this year I have not been good at keeping New Year’s resolutions.   I think I always swear to things which are a little out of reach in order to exempt myself from success. The voices in my head say, “Let it slide. After all, no one keeps New Year’s resolutions anyway…I guess I’ll just keep these 10 extra pounds for now.”

To my great surprise this year has been different. In fact it has actually caused a shift in my spirituality that I have been longing for.  I think it is good news for all of us.  My resolution is this:  rinse and repeat.

Continue reading

Eat at Joe’s: A beautiful story of what happens when a band of misfits and atheists get their hands on the feast of St Joseph.

It is a habit in some parts of the world, to celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph with an elaborate feast, some theatrics, and a lot of charity.   Some dear friends of mine decided that last night would be a good night to throw our own feast with our friends from Burning Flipside. One doesn’t have to know the burner community very long before one realizes that there are a good portion of the community, thought not all of it, with total indifference or  heated antipathy toward religion and specifically the Christian Church.   Having heard some of their stories, I don’t blame them, not a bit.  So while most people didn’t really even notice or care about the religious significance of the event, I did, and one more piece of this particular outpatient was welcomed home. Continue reading

Then I Looked Up: The shocking revelation that plants and souls like to grow.

This year's first.

When I moved into this place its outside looked very much like my inside did.  The branches of the tall trees drooped to the ground as if to hide the house everyone knew was there.  The house kept dark. The yard looked very much like a bad case of male patterned baldness, only growing around the edges.   The backyard was in no better shape.  It was waist high in un-welcomed greenery and while I am not absolutely positive I think some of that greenery was, how shall I say, questionably legal leftovers from the previous tenants.  Toward the south was a fairly ominous twisting of dead limbs that once was a tree and now became a kind of outdoor dandruff, flaking down  little by little when provoked by even the smallest breeze.   Yeah.  My heart looked like this house.  Things were growing where they shouldn’t and things refused to grow where they were needed.  So when I started purging the untamed overgrowth, I became nervous I would never get the good stuff to live where I wanted it to. Continue reading

How to Drive Out Snakes: Lessons from a guy who wasn’t even Irish.

Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

The story is not so ironic as just surprising because it has been so long forgotten.  St Patrick’s particular story of redemption, the reason he is considered a saint, is so mashed up with corned beef and green beer that when we finally do hear it does seem a little surprising. In fact just like the story of St. Valentine it can actually sound surprisingly subversive.  The big reveal that makes the story so interesting is simply this: St. Patrick wasn’t Irish.  In fact, he had good reason to hate them. Continue reading

What Withered Hands Can Heal: How John’s profoundly disabled body kept me in the game.

John’s body was less like mine than anyone else’s in the room.  In that room full of people with some very unique bodies and abilities, that was saying a lot.   It was the end of a weekend I spent on retreat with L’Arche, which is a set of communities of people with disabilities and the people who choose to build a life with them.

A picture of another celebration at L'Arche Antigonish, Canada

L’Arche retreats are celebrations that, in some ways, put Burning Man to shame in creating an environment where everyone can unapologetically  be themselves.  I knew the people in room were experts in living with unique limitations and gifts, but I still could not imagine how the evening would unfold in a way that John could fully play along. Continue reading

I recently wrote a guest post for Dr. David J Dunn on his blog.  He is a great friend and amazing theologian with sharp contemporary insights.  I am writing for a different audience and focusing on the positives of what other’s have experienced as a horrible childhood.   I like to think of it as rich and challenging experience that didn’t entirely push me over the edge.  These are thoughts on the best of it. 

“I have always wanted to be holy, I just could never figure out how. As a very young child in the Church of the Nazarene I would hear wondrous stories of revival and passion and healing and transformation, I just couldn’t seem to get my hands on it personally. This was not for the lack of trying, I just didn’t know how to try…

Continued at David’s Blog  “Nazbeen Confessions: From an Outpatient Monk”

Help Me Get This Sadness Out My House. A Story About Rubber Gloves and Grace.

Years ago I got caught in a pretty debilitating depression.  I let things snowball to a point I felt I had little or no refuge left. Every part of life looked bleak including my own bedroom.     On weekends I would lie in bed all day and look at piles of laundry, fast food wrappers, stacks of unopened bills and just junk.   Blech.  It literally made it hard to get out of bed in the morning (or sometimes in the afternoon). One could sprain an ankle on the way to the bathroom.  At one point it became difficult for me to imagine that the room would ever be clean. I would lie in bed and pray, “please, someone come and get this sadness out my house.”  To my great surprise, one time, someone did. Continue reading