In the years since our twin daughters died, I've shared in this space some of what helped me grieve. Scripture, of course. Community, in the church and among parents who have experienced loss like ours. Prayer, at turns angry, sorrowful, empty, or hopeful. What I've never written about is poetry. On my computer and in my filing cabinet, I keep (giant, growing) folders of poetry that I love. Every time I come across a poem that clutches the core of me, I tuck it there. Essays and novels and memoirs I can read by the dozen, and I do, and they change me. But poetry stays with me longer than anything else. After Maggie and Abby died, I started a new collection of poetry. For me, for grief. A few that friends and strangers sent to me or tucked into sympathy cards. Many that I found myself, unbidden. Some that I rediscovered, now knowing what they meant. I poured through books of grief poetry, gut-grateful for others who knew the healing power of words. But I also needed to … [Read more...] about the power of poetry (when words pale)
A beloved theology professor of mine in college used to start each class with a simple prayer, repeating, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). One line spoken slowly, one word dropped each time until there was only "be." Years later, a favorite writing teacher did the same during a week-long workshop. Let us pause each day to breathe into the spaces between the words. I took their wisdom to heart, prayed these lines with children and adults. Always searching for more Scripture that can be stair-stepped with perfect simplicity. Now I've found another. . . . Beloved, we are God's children now. (1 John 3:2) The first Scripture I ever memorized, for an all-school Mass. The first time I ever got to proclaim the Word, second grade if memory serves. White mimeographed reading pasted onto construction paper. I had to yank the microphone all the way down and perch on pink saddle-shoed tip-toes, and even then I could barely see over the ambo. But the thrill … [Read more...] about beloved. be loved.
Crusts & Crumbs is a new reflection for Sunday evenings: thoughts on today's Scripture from parenting's perspective. If you're hungry to connect faith and family, let’s chew here together. "The Lord, your God, is in your midst" (Zep 3:17). Do we remember this, when we're together at table or party? Do we call the truth to mind, as we're racing through airport or freeway? Wherever two or three are gathered, there is God in our midst. Even a family of two - a married couple, a single parent with child, a grandparent and grandchild - are full family. And, Scripture says, full presence. "For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!" (Isa 12:6) The space between us is sacred, then. We hug and kiss, or jostle and fight, or bristle and ignore. Dynamics between family members are hyper-charged this time of year, Hallmark movies and holiday cards plastering perfect smiles on our edgy expectations. Can we measure up to our own hopes, let alone our culture's commercialized … [Read more...] about crusts & crumbs: God with us
Advent is a season of strange stories and wonder-full waiting. Angels. Dreams. Miraculous pregnancies. Surprising visitors. But in a season of powerful Scripture and symbols - light, darkness, watching, waiting - we can forget that the first Advent was embodied, too. Without pregnancy and birth - messy, physical experiences - Christmas could not have happened. What can bearing, birthing, and caring for babies teach us about the Incarnation? How might pregnancy, labor, and nursing shape our understanding of God becoming human? A few of my favorite questions. Turns out I can't stop thinking about them this time of year. . . . For ten years now, I've been pregnant or nursing during December. (That realization alone was enough to startle me.) A decade of Advents spent in changed relationship to my body as it expanded and contracted, filled and emptied, nourished and nurtured new life into being. Becoming a mother through these biological experiences changed my spiritual … [Read more...] about a decade of waiting: Advent in the body