Uselessness: Where Suffering and Beauty Meet

I’ve never been good at beauty. Yes, of course I can in some sense understand beauty – for instance could tell you the parts of a piece of literature that make it beautiful. But I usually don’t permit beauty to draw me out of myself – maybe because I’ve been pushed and pulled and pinned and boxed in so many times by mental illness that I experience my own passibility as fear – the drawing out effected by beauty is of… Read more

A Poetic Hope

“I don’t care to wake up in the morning without hope. Hope is a survival mechanism.” Norman Lear, Producer I’ve been sleeping more than I usually do, and not because I need it. I’m waking up every day to the latest news alerts reminding me of our country’s status and that things can dramatically change overnight. Various forms of fatigue are taking over faster than we can define them: internet fatigue, news fatigue — there’s a new reason for exhaustion… Read more

The Assurance of Winter

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” Albert Camus I’ve had a disdain for winter for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid in Iowa, my older sister could get me to go outside only by explaining an exciting game… Read more

Redwoods, Give Me A Word

The towering redwoods of northern California have always mystified me. I’m constantly swept away with awe and wonder, as if I’ve rewinded my life back into childhood. With my gaze upward and my mouth wide open, I oooo and ahhhh at the way the light shines through the endless towers, the great elevated heights of trees, and squint my way through each crevice in hopes of seeing the array of creatures who call these woods home. While on a stroll… Read more

Rescuing Small and Huddling Things from Adversarial Protectiveness

I can’t remember precisely what his answer was, but it was not the enthusiastic one I had expected. I had gone to the university-hosted public lecture on C. S. Lewis hoping to be reminded of hope and beauty, of something from a readerly childhood that seemed so often to be slipping away more and more, buried under the pressures and workload of a Masters degree. And the question I had asked innocently enough was how we might proceed if we… Read more

The Voice of the Heart

Listening to the voice of my heart has never come easy for me. I’m usually quick to assume a present feeling is final, an agony is forever, or that all of my questions should have answers and answers NOW. Yet, I know better. And, the more I grow through those fleeting assumptions–the more I find myself truly pausing and listening to the utterances of my heart–the more I’m truly in touch with those parts of myself that so softly speak my own… Read more

Discovering Humanity Through Whispered Poetry in an Age of Rhetorical Explosives

Flannery O’Connor once said in justification of her fiction that, in a deaf culture, one has to shout and draw large figures. And this is true of a particular kind of cultural deafness. Where violence and rot is covered up by a certain kind of respectability, such shouting and grotesqueness can be an invaluable wake-up call. However, in my recent experience, there are other kinds of deafness amidst which shouting and grotesque figures simply don’t help. This is the deafness… Read more

Seeking Identity

This post is part of the Patheos Catholic Channel series, “Catholicity:  Identity and its Discontents.”  Read more here. One night a moth flew into the candle, was caught, burnt dry, and held….this spectacular skeleton, began to act as a wick….She burned for two hours…like a hollow saint….while I read by her light. — Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm Questions of personal identity always make me uncomfortable.  As these questions are currently understood, they require definitions and precision.  Yet, questions of… Read more

Coming Soon!

When I was approached by the Patheos Catholic channel editors to create a contemplative blogging space, as head of the non-profit and Roman Catholic lay association The Inner Room I was a bit mystified.  What does it mean to blog contemplatively?  By definition, contemplation is deep Christian prayer.  Specifically, it is silent prayer.  If one was to take seriously that this was a contemplative prayer space, there would be no blogging done at all.  Jokes were made about the contradiction… Read more

The Sacredness of Now

The bells began to ring just outside my window for Vigils, 3:15 am prayer, and I couldn’t help but roll over to doze off again until the next round of bells would awaken me a few hours later. I’m not sure how I was so lucky to receive a room with a view of the Abbey’s bell-tower and the monastery’s resting place for monks who have since left the world. I awoke each day overlooking the burial grounds of those… Read more


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