• When the Bough Breaks: A fallen limb in a friendship is not a dead tree.

    Its is the second worst storm I endured since I moved to Texas, making it the second worst storm of my life.  I had been praying, trying to center, and needing to be present.  The storm hit my house exactly within the first five minutes of sitting down with someone for spiritual direction.  The wind was rattling the windows and tossing bits of the back yard around.  The whole house chilled.    I considered ending our time together because I was able to give the moment only 99% of my attention.  I was being tugged away by one haunting thought.  Will the tree hold?

  • How my relationship with Jesus is, and is not, personal.

    When I was young I would go to camp or a youth service where I was told that what I needed was a personal relationship with Jesus.  It made a kind of sense as a lot of things do for children because I was still relying on other people to teach me how to make sense of things. So I agreed, with no regrets. However, I happen to be the kind of person, and have been since childhood, to throw myself headlong into the task at hand whatever it may be.   So I was bound and determined to have the most personal relationship with Jesus a person could have. This is…

  • “Put a Sock-Puppet in It,” Ancient wisdom that it is better to make a sock puppet than to be one.

    This is a guest post of mine on an otherwise lovley and insightful blog, “Knitting Benedict: The Rule…by hand.”  This is one of my favorite blogs to regular.   There is hardly a better way, than I can imgaine, to glean wisdom an ancient book of instruction than by taking small bites of it and chewing slowly while working with your hands on small stuff.  “Work and pray,” says saint Benedict. I am in the middle of forging a batch of sock puppets. As I do I cannot help but see the contrasts between the kinds of toys I am fashioning and a stern bit of advice from Benedict’s rule:…

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

    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.

  • How to be a Valentine: A Note on Martyrdom.

    Today is a feast, a gift and remembrance, of an occasion I have yet see Hallmark really nail with one of its watercolored limericks:  there once was a man so in love with God that he was beheaded for performing marriages in opposition to war.   In defense of hallmark, that is a very hard picture to paint with water colors… In the third century, Emperor Claudius had declared marriage illegal in order to encourage more young men to volunteer to be soldiers.  Valentine, a celibate priest, opposed both the aggressive violence of the empire as well as the notion that the state alone held the reins of marriage.  …

  • Ninja’s Teeth and the Relentless Love of God.

    When I was just out of college I was pretty hell-bent on changing the world. Hopefully I still am but back then I was far less patient to see the results of my efforts. I had moved to the heart of Los Angeles to study a year of urban studies as well as fulfill an internship at the First Church of The Nazarene on Third & Vermont. I was ready for adventure, but not for the hard work of everyday care and concern for other who sometimes annoyed me.  Nevertheless something clicked at the county hospital one day when I tried to help “Ninja” get his teeth fixed.

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