The holiness of the Eucharist is alive in the soil with which we work.
The smell of horses and leather filled the air as I made the last harness adjustments, stepped behind the team of willing Belgians, and drove them to the walking plow that stood at the head of the garden. Trace chains clinked against the doubletree as I hooked the plow. I joined the lines in a plowman’s knot and ducked into the loop they formed, situating the smooth leather around my back. With the loop running under my left arm, across my back and around my right shoulder, I was able to control the team while I took hold of the plow handles, worn smooth with repeated use.
Prayer isn't easy. There's a reason it's called a discipline.
How do you pray? The way I pray changes often. Sometimes it’s intentional, quiet, in front of a candle even. At other times, it’s simply sitting quietly on my commute to work, purposefully avoiding my email and social media while I mindfully observe my surroundings. For a while there in the summer, after putting my son to bed, I would sit on my back porch and attempt watercolor paintings of the scenery around me.
Reading poetry shows us the beauty of the world through new eyes.
“A poem in the pocket means we will be accompanied wherever we go,” writes Bishop Robert Morneau.
Morneau’s words ring true to me. Poems have been sturdy companions on my spiritual journey, accompanying me through moments of rejoicing and lament and everything in between. While the liturgical prayer of the church and reflection on scripture are bedrock spiritual practices for me, praying with poetry has also been a fundamental part of my spiritual life for as long as I can remember.
Tattoos, overtly religious or not, reflect people's identity, their relationship with God, and their journey toward something larger than themselves.
I’m used to strangers stopping me in public. “What kind of bird is that on your arm?” they ask. “I’ve never seen a tattoo like that.”
When artists create an icon, they engage in a centuries-long sacramental and theological practice. Their work reveals the unseen face of God.
A year before I became a Catholic, I went on a retreat to an Orthodox monastery north of Columbus, Ohio. The monks occupied an old farm house and converted the basement into a chapel, complete with large, colorful icons. Every morning I attended Morning Prayer while icons of Our Lord, the Blessed Mother, and the saints looked on. The images stared at us, speaking in a mysterious language I didn’t quite understand, as we gazed back at them.
Learning about electromagnetic fields gave me new language to understand God.
I came to faith because of magnets.
Let your interior life be enriched by time spent outdoors.
On a recent trip through Yellowstone, I encountered a couple crouched next to a tall spruce tree, binoculars up and muttering to each other. Then they grew excited, both spotting something, the man going for his camera, the woman on her smart phone. “I’ve got it!” she finally exclaimed. “A mountain chickadee!” They high-fived, overflowing with giddiness.
The artwork of Mexican artist Martin Ramirez reminds us that the spirit is always free.
On March 26, 2015, the U.S. Postal Service issued a collection of stamps honoring the art of Martín Ramírez. At the time of his death, in February 1963 at California’s DeWitt State Hospital, such an accolade would have seemed like a dream.
St. Columba was a man of dueling natures—both peaceful pastor and warring politician. He needed both to do God’s will.
“Know who you really are and how God can use you,” one of my seminary teachers exhorted. Living this injunction, simple albeit powerful in message, has been an unfolding journey over my three decades of pastoral ministry and my current calling as a minister in the United Church of Christ.
The point of a pilgrimage is not simply moving from point A to point B in order to collect a coupon at the final destination.
Those who practice Zen refer to sitting in meditation as zazen. The Japanese word means “just sitting.”
They do nothing else except sit and wait. Shedding the unnecessary. Allowing the world to reorder itself into its simplest form.