2 Questions that Could Change Your Life

One of the central practices in Jesuit devotion --- the one that Ignatius of Loyola considered indispensable --- was the prayer of Examen. Ignatius felt that the key to spiritual growth was to cultivate an awareness of when and where God had been present in the course of the day. It was so important, in fact, that he urged his followers to do the Examen, even if it cost them the little time that they might have for prayer.One writer calls it “rummaging for God” in our lives. Rummaging is a wo … [Read more...]

4 Reasons for Abandoning New Year’s Resolutions

On one level, I have no specific objection to New Year’s resolutions. Any opportunity for change and improvement is a welcome occasion.Evidently, countless cultures have thought so as well. As far as I can tell the practice goes back to the Babylonians and has been renewed somewhere in the world ever since.From a Christian perspective, however, there are good reasons to be a bit skeptical (apart from the statistics that suggest we aren’t terribly good at following through on the reso … [Read more...]

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...]