Dark Devotional: When Letting Go is Holding On

“My dishonesty with myself and others hinders the honesty of all humanity, hinders the progress of all people.” Journal entry on 2/12/12 In 2012 I made the decision to let go of some certainty in my life for the sake of exploring something unknown. I quit my job. I quit my salary-paying, insurance-giving job full of security and certainty so I could travel to the seventeen Cistercian monasteries of the United States. As someone who isn’t Catholic, this was a… Read more

Stranger Things is the Most Catholic Show on TV

“Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of the bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. Exactly what the fairy tale does is this: it accustoms him . . . to the idea that . . . limitless… Read more

Wisely Keeping Vigil, a Dark Devotional

  The inarticulate moans came from a closed bedroom door at my elderly cousin’s house – not sounds of physical pain but aggravated ennui. My six-year-old-self was terrified and stayed away from the part of the house where the wails came. Ignorant and afraid, I stayed among familiar faces, and kept sound distance from that fearful noise. My younger sister showed much more courage than I could muster and would enter the room stay there for hours at a time. Anne… Read more

Five Lessons I Learned from Dorothy Day

In my 33 years as a Catholic, I’ve found the saints–canonized or not–have often found me when I needed them, when I was ready to learn the lessons they could teach. At the forefront of this cloud of witnesses, bearing me up and urging me on, is Dorothy Day. By now, many Catholics are familiar with her name, perhaps recognizing her as the co-founder and spiritual mother of the Catholic Worker movement. She is that, but also so much more –… Read more

Spirit and Flesh: The Spiritual Experience of Getting a Tattoo

  Aaron greets me at the counter of Carmel Ink: “What can I do for you today?” “I’m looking for a ghost tattoo.” Most of my tattoos are religious in nature–not the traditional flash pieces pulled from the wall, praying hands with rosaries, Celtic crosses, or scripted Bible verses with “blessed” in them. No, I carry a Micah 4:6 tattoo, I will gather the outcasts, a bleeding Arabic “N” to memorialize those martyred in the Middle East, and the word Catholic,… Read more

Dark Devotional: The Book of Judith

  White scar like thread runs up and down my wrist, not because I tried to die that time, but because a rabbit didn’t want to die, an old buck, a king who misplaced his kingdom in a row of hutches, and we were butchering, and he kicked out once, writing his resistance in one long red line. We were using cudgels, but the man drove his fist into the quivering head, and blood painted his face and mine. Later,… Read more

Approaching Mystery: Susan L. Miller Says Goodbye to the Magic Portal

On October 25th, the Natural History Museum in New York closed the doors of its Hall of Gems and Minerals to renovate. The old room was a weird shape, almost like the cylindrical crystals of a beryl, with staggered steps up and down into viewing areas covered with plexiglass. The room was dim, the labels of some gems difficult to read, and the organization seemingly random–by color, maybe, until you realized that cut specimens were arranged in special anterooms, patterned… Read more

Approaching Mystery: Rebecca Bratten Weiss Keeps On Dying

Here is a faded picture of two girls, one blond, the other brown-haired, dressed up as Laura and Mary from Little House on the Prairie. The brown-haired girl, who is smaller, wears pink gingham and a sunbonnet. That’s my sister, whose hair is still brown. The blond girl, in blue, is me, but since I haven’t had blond hair since the year 2000, it’s hard to look at that child and believe that the camera was facing me: this body,… Read more

This is Not a Ghost Story: Florida’s Haunted Landscapes

Here’s the thing about Florida – it can be totally insane, as unimaginable as if you were living on another planet. Down in South Florida we are teeming with wildlife: alligators, enormous iguanas, pythons, egrets, great herons, all wandering around in our swampy, sweaty marshlands. The people are as diverse as the wildlife and all kinds of languages and ethnicities mix together. If you move up the state you’ve got more small towns and what seems like the old South in some places – backwoods, shotgun houses,… Read more

Things Keeping the Undead Alive, October 2017

“Boys and girls of every age Wouldn’t you like to see something strange?” That question begins the song written by Danny Elfman for Tim Burton’s weird/creepy/endearing The Nightmare Before Christmas. I love that movie, not in spite of its oddness, but because of it. The same can be said of my feelings towards Halloween in general. I love how the remnants of the Puritans want to ignore the creepy carousel of ghosts, witches, costumes, and candy.  From a high-brow perspective, God… Read more

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