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Category: Patheos


Giving Up a Too-Small God

My latest column at Patheos is available on how to let go of the God of whom you are certain and open yourself to the One who is beyond your imagining: Let mystery have its place in you; do not be always turning up your whole soil with the plowshare of self-examination, but leave a little fallow corner in your heart ready for any seed the winds may bring, and reserve a nook of shadow for the passing bird; keep a place in your heart for the unexpected guests, an altar for an unknown God. — from Amiel’s Journal, translated

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Sacred Fasting

Here is my latest column for Patheos on desert wisdom for Lent: Abba Daniel used to say, “He lived with us many a long year and every year we used to take him only one basket of bread and when we went to find him the next year we would eat some of that bread.” (Arsenius 17) Abba Daniel used to tell how when Abba Arsenius learned that all the varieties of fruit were ripe he would say, “Bring me some.” He would taste very little of each, just once, giving thanks to God.” (Arsenius 19) –from Sayings of the

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The Sacred Art of Living

My latest article at Patheos: I was sitting in St. Ephrem, a small Orthodox stone church near the Sorbonne in Paris, listening to the sublime solo suites for cello by Johann Sebastian Bach.  The young man playing did not have sheet music, he knew this entire piece by heart.  His eyes were closed as he stretched the bow back and forth in a kind of dance, his whole body was alert and engaged in this act of offering to the gathered crowd. I was struck there in the middle of the piece by the awareness that he had spent likely

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Stirring in the Belly: Listening for New Life

I am reposting my Seasons of the Soul column for Patheos from last year to honor this sacred day: The most important events make no stir on their first taking place, nor indeed in their effects directly. They seem hedged about by secrecy. It is concussion, or the rushing together of air to fill a vacuum, which makes a noise. The great events to which all things consent, and for which they have prepared the way, produce no explosion, for they are gradual, and create no vacuum which requires to be suddenly filled; as a birth takes place in silence, and

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Practices for the 12 Days of Christmas

My newest column is available at Patheos: What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the Son of God fourteen hundred years ago and I do not also give birth to the Son of God in my time and in my culture? We are all meant to be Mothers of God. —Meister Eckhart (15th century German mystic) Advent immerses us in themes of darkness, waiting, attending, anticipation, and holy birthing.  When we arrive at Christmas, do we celebrate the ways we are giving birth to God in our lives?  The Feast of Christmas honors God becoming enfleshed

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Abbey Bookshelf: Between Heaven and Mirth

I received a copy of Fr. James Martin’s newest book Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life from Patheos where it is this month’s featured book club selection.  His central premise is that in our churches we often act very grim and forget that humor is a gift of the Spirit. I would go even further to suggest that our capacity to experience deep emotion of any kind has been stunted in our culture in general, but also in our faith communities.  We shy away from genuine experiences of lament

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Is God Coming? An Advent Theoblogger Challenge

Patheos offers regular Theoblogger challenges, inviting their writers to respond in 100 words or less.  This month’s challenge asks the question “How is God coming into the world this Advent?” Here is my response: In the Northern hemisphere Advent is the season of growing darkness and waiting in the midst of unknowing. Images of night, mystery, and birthing make my soul sing. During this time that we wait for God’s coming, I pay close attention to my dreams, those nighttime visions that come to show me something new. An angel appeared in a dream to Joseph to tell him to wed

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