This is the time of year to be thinking – and writing – about gratitude. But instead, I find myself thinking about limits.
Every day, we run into them: limits of our physical body, our emotional reserves, and our time; limits on our perspective on the world based on the life we’ve lived; limits based on where we have been born in place and history. Limits imposed on us outwardly, or limits we keep trying to outrun that come from within. Whether we must accept limits that feel isolating and debilitating, or we simply get overwhelmed by the demands of a full life, all of us feel constrained by the limits of time, personality, or place. We long at once to be everywhere and here, experienced in all things yet an expert in a few, having more and having less.
Not until we realize that this hunger in us is a seed of eternity will we plant it deep into the soil of our finite limits, and let it grow. Continue reading
I would like to make the case for beauty.
Here is my manifesto: Beauty inherently inspires us to live more beautifully. The truest things in the world are also the most beautiful. Beauty, truth, and goodness – these three are always inextricably linked together, or else each is incomplete.
The poet John O’Donohue speaks rightly that “an awful lot of urban planning, particularly in poor areas, has doubly impoverished the poor by the ugliness which surrounds them. And it’s understandable that it’s so difficult to reach and sustain gentleness there.” Unjust as it is, there is a reason nobody wants to live in certain areas of town. In fact, recent studies have shown that an increase in green space in cities statistically lowers crime. Continue reading
A conversation on the church, with Ben Myers’ book The Apostles Creed.
It is astonishing that for a movement that utterly changed the world, Christianity has such humble origins. As Myers writes:
Jesus wrote no books…He was the author not of ideas but of a way of life. Everything Jesus believed to be important was entrusted to his small circle of followers. What he handed on to them was simply life. He showed them his own unique way of being alive – his unique way of living, loving, feasting, forgiving, teaching, and dying – and he invited them to live the same way.
The more I get a taste of the global church, the greater the mystery it is to me. How can it be that when I’m in a remote village of Tanzania, or a small town in Sweden, I can feel so at home in a church so outside of my culture and context? How is it that we embrace or shake hands with each other in genuine love as brothers and sisters in the Gospel? The faithful existence of the global church, in all its unity and disunity, is a miracle. Continue reading
Note: I wrote this letter to myself in much earlier days of this blog, but never published it. I just came across it again today and felt it was time to share it with the world. Although it emerged in the midst of much personal wrestling and prayer, I hope it strikes a chord of resonance with you as well.
Dear you –
The one who is tired,
the one who sits there staring out the bus window,
wondering if she’s the one who has it all wrong.
The one who recognizes in herself the same criticism
the same jumping to conclusions
the same line-in-the-sand mentality
that frustrates her in others
and wonders how we ever heal from it all. Continue reading
As the evenings get darker and the calendar flips to December, I’ve been thinking about the past year and all it has held for us. What words do I want to end the year with? What words do I want to hold on to into the new year?
This has been a year of many new beginnings and some endings, many moments of joy and some of grief, and in the midst of all of it, grace. Sometimes grace found me like a splash of cold water across the face, but sometimes in was the small shadow creeping up from behind, surprising me softly. Mostly I have found it in the quiet, glad moments that are hard to describe in any other way than a deep welling up of gratefulness.
What has been most surprising about this year is the way it has been exactly and yet nothing at all like I expected. I saw this as a year of growth and it has certainly been so. Yet the word I chose for this year was “beauty,” and this beauty has turned out to mostly come from places I wasn’t even looking for it. Continue reading
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wished to be part of a culture rich with tradition and weekly rituals like the Sabbath prayers or traditional dances. I was hungry for a way of living that felt more embodied and yet transcendent.
More than this, I craved holy words. When I looked out across the Alps, listened to a hurting friend, or walked in my neighborhood in the glory of a spring day, I longed for a prayer to rise to my lips that fit a moment like this.
I was looking for a liturgy. Continue reading
Recently I’ve been considering what it means that we are not only beings that think, but desire. It seemed appropriate during this season of Lent to meditate on what it means to hunger, in the deepest sense of the word. And now, on Maundy Thursday, I think it is only appropriate for us to meditate on Christ’s final meal with his disciples–the Eucharist, and what it reveals about the point of all our hunger.
Alexander Schmemann notes, “In the biblical story of creation man is presented first of all, as a hungry being…and this image of the banquet remains throughout the whole Bible, the central image of life.” Continue reading
I am a two.
To those who are familiar with the Enneagram, I basically just told you all my dirty secrets. Although the Enneagram is considered an ancient personality typing method (making a trendy comeback), I would consider it more of a rigorous soul assessment. It has forced me to confront everything lurking in my heart: hopes, dreams, fears–both what I would die for and what I would die to avoid.
And, as much as I’ve tried to run from it, I am a two.
So what does that mean? Continue reading
I heard once that in previous centuries time was not viewed as a line you move through, with a beginning and an end, but circular–the way the sun rises and sets, or the year always circles back to spring.
In my own heart I often recognize this circular pattern. I learn something true about living every day, and I do my best to remember it. But new thoughts come, distractions drift my mind away, and the sharpness of this truth becomes dulled. Months later, I’m reminded of these truths again and around the circle goes. My prayer is that each time becomes like the blow of a great hammer, driving it deeper and deeper into my soul. Like the unforced rhythms of grace.
When I first started this blog nearly three years ago, one of the first things I wrote about was love. The more I live & pray about living, the more I’m convinced that this is each of our great lives’ works–the work of love.