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.  â€¦

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,…

Red-Letter Christians and the Gospel Book

A while ago I had some Evangelical friends who referred to themselves as “red-letter Christians.” The term, which seems to be an exclusively Protestant thing, refers to editions of the Bible that print Jesus’ words in red, leaving the rest of the text is in the usual black. Although I never described myself as a red-letter Christian, I liked the concept of focusing on obedience to Jesus’ teachings rather than on various…

My Private Switzerland of the Mind

As the new calendar year begins, I find myself reflecting on the things I allow into my mind—through images and reading, as well as the thoughts that tempt and assault me. My musings on this subject are a direct result of a month-long “digital fast” that my husband Rob and I began in mid-December. The idea had been bubbling in the back of my mind since last summer’s Ancient Faith Writing &…

Finding Christ in a Blue Christmas

One of the most familiar benedictions of the Christmas season is the angelic message delivered to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem: Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men! (Luke 2:13–14)   We gaze fondly at the shepherds in family creches and in Nativity icons, and that ethereal peace feels holy and poetic—a heavenly ideal. But on a personal level, where we work out our salvation in…