A Poem for the Turning of a Year

How I wander through these 

days, stranger to my own making;

treading on thin spaces, and 

the cracks expand across 

the distance to where You live.

A wind blows and it whispers

Only words of you. A crow 

settles in the trees Outside 

the window and calls

Your name.

You call us, and we hunger. 

You fill us, yet we cannot 

get enough of You.

You, there beside us 

in our kneeling prayer,

claiming us and yet ascending

in Your loving higher

until we are compelled 

to bow 

and love You so our hearts 

may burst 

while knowing we are Yours

and shall be in Your life

and life is Real and sharp

among our ribs.

I watched the crow for days

before I caught the secret

of your love affair

before I saw he only glanced

towards where You stood

rejoicing in his ebony creation.

And I knew my heart 

would burn again

towards You

I knew that I would 

wander, and return



offer up this world


            and over again

and always it would be

to You.

You will be the song I hum

in the dark, forgetting

Who it is I sing of

You will be the One 

watching, giving 

planting, birthing


a lopsided love affair

delighting in the 

slow ripening

of my resurrection

calling my name

in the wind 

and the wilding sky.

I began this poem on my 30th birthday this year, and finished it while in Assisi several months later. Since then I’ve returned to it often as a touchstone, a reorientation point, and I felt it would be appropriate to share now as we pass ”the still point of the turning world” (T.S. Eliot) and head into a new year.

May it be a year of journeys, and a year of returnings. May it be a year your soul ripens and expands into new and beautiful wings.

Happy New Year, friends.

Let Everything Happen To You

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,

then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,

go to the limits of your longing.

Embody me.

Flare up like a flame

and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.

Just keep going. No feeling is final.

Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.

You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

Ranier Maria Rilke, Book of Hours, I 59

Translated by Joanna Macy

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Unfallen Suffering and the Image of the Trinity

Several days ago Ben and I listened to a podcast which pointed to a fascinating concept that they called “unfallen suffering.” While acknowledging the reality of true suffering and evil in our world today, the speaker made the argument that there are certain aspects of our humanity in which suffering is actually creative and life-bringing: a return back to the selves we were intended to be before the Fall. 

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Like A Tent Of Light (Free ebook!)

In the past few months I’ve been experimenting with some new pieces that blur the lines a bit between prose and poetry. I’m calling them Meditations, and I want to offer them now as a companion for you this Lent.

This free ebook contains eight meditations centering around the accounts of Emmaus and the Transfiguration, two of my favorite pieces of Scripture. These two passages have similar, other-wordly qualities, and yet they different in several critical ways.

On one hand, we recognize that God is beyond us – that at his revelation, we will be flat-faced in awe, stunned into recognizing how meaningless our attempts at communication are in the face of glory. In the Transfiguration, we see Christ as we will one day see Him again in glory, in the coming of the Kingdom for which we long.

And yet, the Church has always maintained an emphasis that this very same God can be known and communicated with through the most ordinary, bodily details of life. It has insisted on sacrament. For those who have eyes to see, the very bread which we hold in our hands can be a moment of unveiling, a communication with Christ who has become the Bread of Life.

What these accounts both have in common is their telling of an unveiling. They reveal that there is a Reality that exists below the eye-level attention we generally give to the world. They point towards a coming day when we, too, will be transfigured – when we will become truly Real.

Whether these meditations walk you through the weeks of Lent, or any other season of your journey, my hope is that they can be a launching-off point, a beginning for your own thoughts and experience.

You can access the book and learn more here. Due to some Amazon regulations, it will only be available for free download for five days before they set it to .99 (for those without Kindle Unlimited) – but you can also access the pdf version here at any time. It would be a great delight to hear what you think when you are done! You can leave comments on Amazon or right here at the end of this post.

Happy reading!


Candlemas is a church feast with a long history whose roots at a later point tangle with both Groundhog Day and the feast of St. Brigid. Officially it is called the Feast of the Presentation, commemorating Christ’s presentation in the temple with both Anna and Simeon as witness.

The guiding image of Candlemas, as Simeon so beautifully sings, is Light – Christ’s “light to lighten the nations.” My recent book contains two poems centered around Candlemas, and I though in honor of the feast today I would share the second one with you.

Candlemas II

Flame-thrown light tells you

      what to do with this,

a labyrinth of interiority.

It will guide you out of 

      the sharp edged shadows

the rotten boards hidden 

      under the rug of strangeness

the creeping vine of doubts.

You throw salt over the side 

     of a crumbling wall

and you allow your eyes to become two 

    clear bells in the dark.

And candlelight reaches up 

    towards the night

as instinct tells you to raise your eyes 

    as the evening dusks

as a wisp of sparrows curl like smoke 

above the trees.

On Writing, Risking, and Giving It Away

At some point last year, I found myself surrounded by piles of finished and half-finished poems, sitting at a crossroads of sorts.

It was rare for me to be squeezing in this much writing on the edges of my other paid writing work, and I felt lucky. One by one I was harvesting a windfall of autumn fruit, and it was slowly piling up into baskets.

Not all of it was beautiful; some had worm holes right through them, others had grown into odd-looking shapes. But it was all there, mostly edible, piled up around me. And I felt at that moment confronted with a choice: do I simply let it sit here, and risk the chance of it going rancid? Or do I take the risk to give it away?

There is an inherent tension in art – and I’ll speak particularly to writing since it is what I know best. Continue reading

IT’S HERE! Now available in paperback and digital editions.


I’m so thrilled to announce that Pilgrims I Have Been is now available in Paperback and Kindle editions! My friend Mary Gowen did an incredible job with the artwork and cover design, didn’t she?

And now for the even more exciting announcement: 

To celebrate its launch, 100% of the proceeds this month will be donated to two of my favorite organizations leveraging the transformative power of writing: Street Roots and Write Around Portland. (Even if you don’t buy a book, check them out!)

It’s been a joy to put this collection together over the past 16 months. If you do pick up a copy, I hope it is a gift to you as well. Thanks so much for being with me on this journey.

Flight to Egypt

Here in my home state of Oregon, wildfires have become enormously destructive the past few weeks and caused many to flee their homes. I’ve been meditating this week on two related images: the burning bush (which in traditional iconography is seen as a symbol of Mary) and the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt. This poem is written on behalf of, and mostly from the perspective of, all those who must flee home – whether because of war, wildfire, or any other danger.

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A Year of Pilgrimage

“My deepest vocation is to be a witness to the glimpses of God I have been allowed to catch.”

Henri Nouwen

When I began this poetry challenge in Summer 2019, the subtitle I had in mind was “A sacred journey through an ordinary year.” In many ways, this year was indeed filled with the ordinary stuff of life – like many of you, I worked two jobs to make ends meet, worried and schemed about the future, struggled with a mental health diagnosis, made new friends.

In other ways, however, it turned out to be a landmark year, including of course a worldwide pandemic, the largest civil rights movement in decades, and the complete reorganizing of our collective lives. I never could have expected the way that poetry would become, rather than an escape, a way to fully live through and experience all that this year would bring. 

One year later, the Nouwen quote above still feels like the most appropriate way to describe how I view myself as an artist. I’m incredibly grateful for the gifts I have been given in this past year, and I hope in some small way these poems can be a gift to you as well. There are SO many I haven’t shared with you yet, and I’m extremely excited to be compiling them into a book that will be available by October 1st!

Even though this poetry challenge has come to a close, none of the opportunities presented to me each day have changed. Every moment is still transparent with possibility. Each person I meet is still a fellow-traveler with a story to tell.

The question remains: Can I remain open to being changed?