The strenuous discipline of not praying

Somewhere on the road to Tucumcari, New Mexico, we got behind a semi truck painted with the question “Did you pray today?” on the back door. The sign rounded out its message with the stencil of a man pointing an accusatory finger.  Did you pray today?  You had better pray.  Or else. I wonder how [Read More…]

Loving neighbors and dodging rocks

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Shortly after moving in to our apartment in Cuzco, Peru to start a mission term, we set about getting to know our neighbors.  There we were, all nestled together at the back of a little court, brick and cement built up in tight quarters.  We were on [Read More…]

He did it

Once, when I was a bored teenager, I invented a challenge for myself.  I was selling Christmas trees on our family’s Christmas tree farm, and in between dragging, shaking, baling, and lashing long trees on short hatchback roofs, I found myself with nothing to do.  There I was, standing beside the chainsaws and stump trimmings, [Read More…]

Hanging on to love

Sometime during the summer swelter, our family made the trip to a water park in a neighboring town.  It had slides and beach chairs, a lazy river and a wave pool–and a funky climbing wall angling out over the water.  Kids lined up to give it a try.  They scrambled up, touched the top in [Read More…]

Infinite Sparrows

You are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31 As the chill night has fallen this winter, a little red-capped bird has taken refuge in the grapevine wreath hanging beside our front door.  He tucks himself in behind the decorations for the night.  We don’t see him until we open the door to walk out, and [Read More…]

Always breaking bread, always giving thanks

Back when I was a graduate student in the big city, I got befriended by a young Salvadorean Jesuit named Kaiser.  We started out studying New Testament Greek together (in Spanish, which pretty well crossed all my wires).  Our relationship grew from there, and Kaiser ended up inviting me to his thesis defense and later [Read More…]

On being detained in the airport

Once, when my wife and I were returning to the U.S. after a visit to her home country of Peru, we were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the airport.  They never told us why.  As far as we could tell, the man who reviewed her passport on entering looked at the wrong page [Read More…]

Christmas lightning

It’s Christmas, and the sky is zagged with lightning.  No one’s dreaming of a white Christmas around here.  It’s thunderstorms today.  But hey, we had our biggest snow of the year on Easter morning, so why not thunderstorms on Christmas? Lightning on Christmas seems like it should be a metaphor for something.  God’s kingdom breaks [Read More…]

Autumn’s lingering death

It’s autumn.  Things are dying, and I don’t like it. Maybe it’s my lament that the tomato vines have crumpled and the beans succumbed and withered.  Maybe it’s my despair over the browning earth, scorched by frost and wind–winter’s shock troops.  Maybe I just don’t like being cold.  But I have a hard time letting go of [Read More…]

When things fall apart

Everything’s falling apart on me, God; put me together again with your Word. (Psalm 119:107 The Message) What do we do when things fall apart? Because they will.  We’ll snag on life’s gnarl and come undone, thread by thread by spooling cord.  Things won’t go as we planned or hoped.  I once knew someone who, [Read More…]