The Pursuit of Happiness, according to the Founding Fathers and the Holy Fathers

I can’t say that I think of the Declaration of Independence much throughout the year, unless I’m listening to the Hamilton soundtrack. But as the Fourth of July draws near, I often recall the famous words that open the second paragraph: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the…

Take a Hike. Seriously.

A few days ago I was talking to my older daughter on FaceTime. (I haven’t hugged her since December. O the pain!) She had hit an emotional wall over the weekend, mourning the state of society and feeling more than a little claustrophobic.   She and her husband live in San Francisco, which has been locked down longer and harder than anywhere else in the US. For months they have been sheltering…

A Prayer for Times When We Don’t Know How to Pray

A few days ago my husband glanced up from his computer and noticed an open garage door down the street. Our neighbor, a Denver police officer, was dressed in black riot gear and heading for his car.   We walked outside to talk to him before he left for another sixteen-hour shift downtown, where hundreds of protesters have gathered daily in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Like his fellow…

Contemplatives in Confinement: 3 Lessons Learned While Battling Coronavirus

I recently achieved the dubious honor of being the only person I know to contract Covid-19. Although mine would be classified a “mild” case—clear lungs, no ER visits, no hospitalization required—I wouldn’t recommend the experience to anyone. If the flu is an uninvited guest that hangs around for three to five days, the coronavirus is a squatter that moves into your home and decides to ransack the place during an extended staycation…

Contemplatives in Confinement: New Habits to Keep, Post-Pandemic

On Holy Saturday Caitlin and I wore dresses and stood in front of our TV in the family room, ready for the Resurrectional Canon at 11:15 pm. Our coffee table featured candles, a censer with charcoal, incense pellets, and Bic lighter at the ready, and a jar of construction-paper crosses from Palm Sunday at our home church. Rob was at our parish church, monitoring the video livestream in the choir loft.  …

Contemplatives in Confinement: Our Lonely, Messy, Beautiful Home Church

I excel at armchair theology. Philosophizing is one of my spiritual gifts. As I sit on the sofa with a profitable book or listen to a live audio-stream of a sermon, I nod in agreement at the ancient Christian concept of the home as a “little church.” Oh, yes. Such a wonderful expression of Ortho-doxy, “straight teaching.” So spiritual. So intellectually satisfying. I wholeheartedly approve of the idea of our little home…

Contemplatives in Confinement: Be Careful What You Pray For

Nothing, whether it is good or bad, happens to a person by blind chance. There is a provident God who steers the affairs of the world, and with each one of us there is a Guardian who does not miss anything, and whose watchfulness never relaxes or grows weak. — St. Isaac the Syrian Possibly my favorite book in C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series is The Silver Chair. In this…

Contemplatives in Confinement: Where Did My Digital Minimalism Go?

I’d been behind on many things, including my biweekly blog. Then restaurants and gyms closed, church services were cancelled for the foreseeable future, and everyone has become more isolated and homebound to varying degrees. I’m wrestling with what all of this means in the context of Great Lent. So, I decided to publish more frequent posts about observing Lent in our new circumstances. I chose “Contemplatives in Confinement” as a goal for…

Traveling the HOV Lane during Lent

I still remember clearly that feeling from 12 years ago, as I was driving on I-25 through Denver. Easter was on the horizon, and I wanted to do something about it. My church didn’t really observe liturgical seasons, and I knew nothing about Orthodox Christianity. (Isn’t that an Eastern European form of Catholicism?) Yet I still had a strong urge to observe Lent in some way. The problem was, I didn’t know…

Extreme Prep: The Long Triodion Warm-Up for Lent

Every act of physical hardship requires preparation. Nobody of right mind sets out to run the New York Marathon without serious endurance training. Even for a shorter race, to qualify for one of the early waves in the BOLDERBoulder 10K, a runner must show proof of the ability to run it in less than an oddly specific 68 minutes. I’m in no danger of running anywhere unless a bear is chasing me,…