Three Ways to Navigate Anniversaries of Loss

 In a world of people that are regularly divided into “the glass is half empty” and “the glass is half full” kinds of people, I tend to be one of those people who is inclined to say, “Look, it’s 4 ounces, no matter how you look at it.”Part of that reaction is professional socialization. Academics are charged with thinking hard about a subject and then producing the evidence for the case that they want to make. (Or that’s the way it is supposed to be, anyway.)And part of that reac … [Read more...]

5 Reasons to “Get off the cross” (apart from, “We need the wood”)

Some years ago in a fairly unconstructive series of conversations about a relationship in which I was playing the part of “The Good Co-dependent” -- not to be confused with “The Good Samaritan” -- my spiritual director had some fairly direct advice: “Get off the cross, we need the wood.”Over the years, I’ve found the wisdom of that advice repeatedly useful, in my own life and in spiritual direction with others.For those who are in “helping professions,” the tendency to climb up on the cro … [Read more...]

Seven ways to avoid getting stuck

Over the years, I’ve seen people get stuck – personally and vocationally.There’s no formal definition for that place in life.  But minimally, I suppose, we are “stuck” when we are profoundly uneasy with our circumstances, at dis-ease with the direction in which our lives are moving, and apparently unable to do anything to change the situation.Some people get stuck in the past, trapped by regret, guilt, or unaddressed injustice.  Some get stuck in the present with patterns of behavior that … [Read more...]

Body Image and 5 Paths to Freedom

My wife and I love to cook.  We were watching Food Network’s show, "Chopped," and waiting for the Cubs game.The guest chefs are former or current models: 2 men, 2 women.What is distressing, but not surprising, is that the women have obviously struggled with the projection that up-ended and savaged their lives. Both have obviously spent decades of their lives, struggling with what other people and the modeling industry expected of them.The net result was a loss of self-acceptance, fr … [Read more...]

Seven Things the Holy Spirit Might Be Trying to Tell You

For many of us it can be hard to believe that the Holy Spirit speaks in a way that is real or helpful.That struggle can be traced to a number of factors: We live in a culture that doesn’t expect God to “show up.”  When we do talk about the work of the Holy Spirit, we use rarified, impenetrable, stained-glass language.  And most of what we expect to hear in listening to the Spirit is couched in such pious jargon that we find it hard to believe that any of it applies directly to us.I’ve com … [Read more...]

Vocation and Jobs

I've been through two employment crises. Three if you include the uncertain business of doing doctoral work against the backdrop of a changing academy and a shrinking church. This is a piece of what I have learned: Focus on vocation -- on God's calling on your life. That calling won't have a title or a job description attached to it. You won't find it on an "org chart." It might not even be one in the same with your "day-job." The key to discovering your vocation lies in asking what do I do, … [Read more...]

Throw Like a Girl: The Power of Enacted Contradictions

In a world fraught with an increasing number of bitter debates over what is theoretically possible, the best antidote to prejudice may still be the enacted contradiction.  That, at least, is one of the lessons to be learned from the Little League career of pitcher Mo’ne Davis who pitches at 70 mph and just threw history’s first shut out for Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons. She shatters sexist assumptions about what it means to “throw like a girl” and she does it all with composure that most adults f … [Read more...]

Burning Snow

Saint John Climacus, a seventh century monk at the monastery on Mt. Sinai was admired for his spiritual depth. As a result, a neighboring monastery asked him to serve as their spiritual director.  We don’t know much about Climacus, but it is reasonably certain that the one book he wrote, The Ladder of Divine Ascent was written in response to that request.Consisting of thirty chapters that allude to the life of Jesus and the Old Testament story of Jacob’s ladder, the book consists of three sec … [Read more...]