Gathering In

In a few weeks, we’ll say goodbye to our house in Tennessee. We bought it back in 2005 after selling our bungalow in Chicago for more money than we could imagine. It was the height of the real estate market, just before the bubble burst. We decided to slow down our lives a little. The kids were small and we felt like the city was closing in on us. The place in…

Context and Spiritual Insecurity

“Anxiety is the mark of spiritual insecurity.” ―Thomas Merton This quote comes up in my Twitter feed almost weekly. It always seems to catch me when I’m in a grumpy mood. That said, these days I’m always cranky when I read Twitter. I need to change my feed– or I need to change my habit of checking Twitter. This quote is out of context, and as such, it conveys a terrible message…

Inquiry Seeking Wisdom

The first piece of creative non-fiction I ever had published appeared in Saint Katherine Review. The journal was new and the editor at the time was my friend, Scott Cairns. Back then, though, we didn’t know each other very well, so the fact of our acquaintance didn’t hold much sway. And, in truth, I didn’t send that piece to SKR because Scott was the editor, I sent it because Kathleen Norris was…

Theologians

I’ve been steadily working on this new book that’s due out late next year. It involves reading through the first volume of the Philokalia, one page at a time, and then reflecting on something I’ve read there. It’s slow-going because it’s a meaty work but also because of the nature of my crazy life. Let’s be honest, though. My life probably isn’t much crazier than yours. We all have stuff to do,…

A Word about Suffering

Ok, fine– many words about suffering… A quick search on the topic of suffering brings out the heavy hitters– Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. Helen Keller Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars. Khalil Gibran And that’s not even tapping into our massive supply…

Short Trip to the Edge: A Pilgrimage to Prayer

“And then I was standing at the edge. It would surprise you how near to home. And the abyss? Every shade of blue, all of them readily confused, and, oddly, none of this as terrifying as I had expected, just endless.” –Scott Cairns “Short Trip to the Edge”   Well, first off, I don’t generally “review” books. Let’s just be clear about that. Reviews can be so subjective, and what one person…

Poetry and Liturgy and Holy Week

  “Poetry is when language attains a degree of opacity, and you can’t see right through it.” This quote came from my pal, Scott Cairns when I asked him to talk about the intersection of poetry and liturgy. I was fortunate to have gathered a small posse of smart Orthodox poet-types and ask them questions at the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids . Much wisdom came forth from Scott, Gaelan…