April 21, 2019

We grieved this week as Notre Dame Cathedral burned. Many hearts broke while reliving memories from that sacred place: memories of visiting as a young child, or with our young child, or while backpacking Europe with a friend. There she was, whether on our phone’s feeds or on the TV or directly across the river: Our Lady and her timber spire and wooden roof, unimaginably ablaze. The cross and the altar stood surrounded by ash, proclaiming in naked symbol the… Read more

April 14, 2019

I always have an uneasy feeling on Palm Sunday. I enjoy waving palms in church like my six and four year-olds, but I’m always struck by the incongruity between the crowd’s Hosanna shouts and upcoming Friday’s bloody execution and abandonment. If I’m honest, Palm Sunday as a liturgical day feels false. It feels false to me likely because I identify with the crowds. I know how fickle I am. Jesus knows just what he is doing, and never pretends to… Read more

April 10, 2019

The Shakers planted some of their most vital outposts of utopia near where I live, in little towns such as New Lebanon, NY and Hancock, MA. I’ve taken inspiration from them–which is perhaps odd for a Congregationalist pastor, but feels both geographically and spiritually attuned. Their spirituality distinctly branches off from Protestantism, while at the same time locates itself in the long stream of mystical spirituality throughout Christian faith. The Shakers prioritize direct experience of God, and often over-against dogma… Read more

April 7, 2019

John 12:1-8 Mary’s anointing of Jesus’s feet with oil is slightly embarrassing. The sheer emotion of the scene is overpowering. There’s the oil, the hair, the feet, and the raw vulnerability. Jesus is eating dinner in Bethany, close to Jerusalem, at his dear friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’s house. It should not be lost on biblical readers that Lazarus is there having a glass of wine reclining at table. Lazarus, just a chapter ago in John’s gospel, was dead in… Read more

April 1, 2019

Note: this is primarily written for Game of Thrones fans and contains spoilers. Game of Thrones is not exactly first-rate source material for contemplatives. Its visceral brutality surely turns off the most earnest seekers of love’s path. Yet, I’ve always been one to look for spiritual depth in unlikely cultural places, and like many, I’m rewatching the show in anticipation of April’s season eight. One of the moral arcs of Game of Thrones can be summed up by which battle… Read more

March 26, 2019

For me, the Enneagram has never been anything other than sacred. In its personality-typing popularization, though, the Enneagram is used to improve relationships in everything from business to romance. I’m not fazed by the psych-lite frenzy of the Enneagram because, after all, who wouldn’t want better relationships in business and romance? Yet this esoteric tool of cosmic and individual transformation is not always thought of in a spiritual context.  (If you’re unfamiliar with the Enneagram, check out this Enneagram Q&A with Suzanne… Read more

March 24, 2019

The soul is a castle, according to 16th century Spanish mystic Teresa of Avila, in which God Herself dwells. At the center of this castle God gleams like a diamond. In Teresa’s classic work The Interior Castle, the soul’s castle holds seven different dwelling places on the way to love’s radiant center, seven deeper stages of prayer that finally lead to the place where God and the soul meet in undivided intimacy. But castles are cavernous, and searching for treasure… Read more

March 22, 2019

Mystics talk about oneness a lot. Classic definitions of divine intimate encounter often stumble towards language of union. There’s a long tradition in Christian mysticism (John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila) of what’s called spousal mysticism. This refers to those spiritual lovers that find such delight in divine love that the only language appropriate to their experience is ecstatic exclamations of marital and erotic union. Failing metaphors, they draw on the most intimate language available. “I am my… Read more

March 16, 2019

The below is excerpted from my article in Kosmos Journal’s Fall 2018 issue. It can be read in full here. Our globalized world lures us to crave more. The culture of “more” is a culture of not enough, accumulation and conquest, and sought but constantly deferred satiety. Every time we text message or update Instagram, researchers tell us that our brains loop in a dopamine cycle of neurological yearning. We seem unable to discern when enough really is enough—and especially… Read more

March 14, 2019

As Christians begin moving through the season of Lent, it’s well-worth considering repentance. The forty days of Lent are associated in the Bible with the Israelite’s forty years of testing in the wilderness, or Jesus’s time in the wilderness facing down temptations. Repentance is a way of naming that wilderness process of tackling our inner preparedness to meet Christ’s resurrection. Of course, repentance is also a word weighed down heavily with baggage, most of it unfortunately associated with a punishing God…. Read more

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