A Descent Into Darkness, but Never Alone

When I read the stories in Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade, I’m reminded of our own family’s journey of loss—the whispered conversations, the hurried runs over to Grandma’s house, the phone calls with out-of-state family, the boxing up of a house of memories, and the quiet goodbyes. Grandma left us long before she moved to live with her daughter in Florida.Years later, visiting that daughter, my aunt, I saw pictures of Grandma in her final years. Her feistiness, suspicions, and covert beh … [Read More...]

Life in the Spirit: The Guiding God, Part 2

  “The mind and soul of a mature man of prayer have simplified their gaze, and deepened and broadened their correspondences with Reality… Such a soul knows existence, is aware of the mysterious movements and pressure of the Spirit, in a way others do not.” ~ Evelyn Underhill Last week I wrote about the Spirit of God as a divine Sherpa, a trustworthy companion and guide in life. (Not “the spiritual life,” whatever that is, but life. All of life. House life and work life; marriage life and s … [Read More...]

Life in the Spirit: God Guiding, or, Spirit as Sherpa

 I began this series with a comment about the ways I have often imagined the Spirit as an ayah—a constant companion, teacher, friend, and surrogate mother. While I’ve come to understand and experience the Spirit as much more than that, the ayah image has not faded, but rather intensified. So … [Read More...]

Life in the Spirit: God Tending

Now that Lent is over, it’s back to life as usual. No more arduous efforts, no more talk of self-deprivation, no more trial and drama and spiritual angstiness. Yay for Fifty Days of Easter! Bring on the chocolate!But let’s not waste our Lent. Recalling our spiritual history might help a bit. We u … [Read More...]

Would You Rather Find Jesus Alive or Dead?

In the upcoming movie Risen, billed as a story about "the manhunt that changed the course of human history," Roman soldier Clavius (played by Joseph Fiennes) is commissioned with the task of finding the body of Jesus. First he crucifies him, then he loses him. With all the brutal focus of a … [Read More...]

Where Does (Your) Faith Come From?

 Working as I do in the wood between the worlds of religion, I am daily immersed in the conversations within various believing and non-believing traditions. Broadly speaking, and with notable exceptions, there are three kinds of essays.Some are conversations within the tradition, either … [Read More...]

Life in the Spirit: God Birthing

These are some thoughts on two fellows, disconnected by everything except religious heritage. In the great sweep of biblical history, these two never share time or space, but they come together in my imagination because of their experience of Wind.I obviously have a thing for Ezekiel’s vision of … [Read More...]

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Toughness of Mind, Tenderness of Heart

Today is the only federal holiday designated and observed nationwide specifically for the honoring of a single man and his contributions to American life. Our nation’s story is immeasurably better for his having lived, for he helped us to become more of what we want to be. Our nation’s founding was a … [Read More...]

Considering Wheaton’s Actions: Sympathetic or Simplistic?

Larycia Hawkins, employed by my alma mater, has stirred up a hornets’ nest of political, religious, and cultural nuances. And without question, she knew she was going to do so. Professor Hawkins, like many of us, is repulsed by the sheer nastiness and ignorance of many loud political voices on the i … [Read More...]

The Igniting God: Life in the Spirit

Some of the stories from the Desert Fathers and Mothers are just too weird to mean much to me. Or they’re too hard. Or they’re just too hot and windy and covered in sand. But sometimes – and timing is everything in the spiritual life – one hits me hard. And this is the one I’m thinking of lately: … [Read More...]

The Overshadowing God: Life in the Spirit

 To be filled, we must become empty.People talk about a “spiritual vacuum” in their lives, about a hungriness or a longing, and this is the starting place. We who pray Veni, Sanctu Spiritus cannot expect the Spiritus to Veni if we’re already quite pleasantly filled, thank you very much. … [Read More...]

Life in the Spirit: Beginning the Conversation

Somewhere in my past, I read a novel about a young boy in India. This child was the son of English parents (set during the British Raj) whose social life was such that a full-time babysitter was in order. In India, this servant was called an ayah. She was a combination of governess, nanny, … [Read More...]

Take a Spiritual Holiday

This week, I had an unusual conversation with an old friend. We had met over coffee to talk about some concerns he had over something he had read, about the writer’s theological direction, and about how that would affect his community. None of this is the unusual part – I have conversations like thi … [Read More...]

Loving Bartholomew, the Nobody

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on historical acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number of who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in … [Read More...]