January 18, 2015

The tree was a valley oak, it was half dead. A valley oak because of its up-reaching branches, deeply lobed leaves, and elongated acorns. Half dead because most of its trunk was rotted, and only a couple of limbs showed signs of life. The tree stood at the trailhead as I began a solo hike during a retreat at Bishop’s Ranch, the Episcopal Diocese of California retreat center deep in California wine country. I had intended for this to be… Read more

January 10, 2015

Want to practice mindfulness – being fully present and aware of the here and now and nothing else? Then get yourself called up for jury duty in Judge Harbin-Forte’s courtroom at the Hayward, California, Hall of Justice. There, you’ll spend a couple of days in a context — a culture — where the norm is to actually listen to what other people have to say. During jury selection, for example, your job as a prospective juror is to pay attention… Read more

January 3, 2015

As a Christian who was born, grew up and has lived her entire life in the United States — a mostly Christian country — I’ve understood religious oppression only intellectually all these years. I’ve never experienced first-hand how it feels to have one’s faith and its most cherished symbols obliterated  by a colonizing force. Until, that is, I stepped inside Instanbul’s Hagia Sophia — where Christians, and later Muslims,  have worshipped for centuries. Make no mistake, this is not a rant… Read more

December 24, 2014

There I was, out in the woods, my favorite place to be. And once again I was wielding my trusty point-and-shoot camera, hoping that by taking photos of every lovely thing that came along I could make this moment last. Make it indelible. Make it permanent. Later, back home, I downloaded the photos and scoured the Internet for the names of the plants and animals I’d digitally captured. I gave each photo a label. The Buddhists have a name for… Read more

December 23, 2014

I’m a brand-new blogger for, and you’re probably wondering — where does she fit in here? With the  Progressive Christians? With the spiritual-but-not-religious? With the none-of-the-aboves? I’ve been wondering about that myself. Where do I belong? Where are my spiritual peeps?  Where are my writing soul mates? It’s not easy to categorize me, and believe me I’ve tried. I’m not a born-again Christian, brimming with certitude. But I don’t belong in the ranks of those who believe that Jesus was… Read more

December 19, 2014

Greetings readers. I’m a brand-new blogger for Patheos. I’m excited to be writing for you and I hope to be hearing from you often in the coming months. Right now it’s the Christmas season, so I’ll share my response to some of the scripture being read in many Christian churches. — Barbara Falconer Newhall “And Mary said, ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord . . . ’” Luke 1:46 “There was a man sent from God, whose name was… Read more

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