Monthly Archives: May 2012


I can’t help thinking about information this morning.  Remember the old Prisoner TV show?  The Prisoner would ask in the interrogation: “What do you want?” And Number 2 would answer: “Information!”  To which the Prisoner would respond:  “You won’t get it!”  And they never did.

Fast forward about 45 years and my husband and I are watching (for the first time) the TV series Lost.  One of our sons invited us to watch it with him (he lives on the West Coast) and we are calling each other at planned intervals to share our comments, conjectures, questions, suspicions, and the general impact the show is making on us.   And this morning I can’t help thinking about information – specifically the sharing of it.

If there is anything I am learning from the premise of the show it is that information should be shared.  As the story advances, each of the characters, for whatever reason, finds out some piece of information and then keeps it to themselves as if sharing the information with someone else would interfere with any chance they may have of ever being rescued.  Yet, this hording of information brings further calamity.

It makes me think about how often we hold onto information and don’t share it.  Why do we do that?  Perhaps because we think it’s not important, or someone else would not know what to do with it, or we want to have control over something or someone.

Yet, in the Christian understanding of things, information is meant to be shared.  If we honor community and our place in it as a member of the whole, then each of us is gifted with a piece of the truth and each of us holds a vital part of that truth.  No one has all of the truth, but we each share a significant piece of the truth which is our own lived experience.  We are challenged to share that truth – the information – we have with others so that it can be blended with the community’s story.  When everyone shares, then the community’s story can evolve into a fuller reality that is the collective truth.

Nobody has it all together, but together we have it all.

I realize that if the characters in Lost shared what they knew with each other, it probably wouldn’t make a very entrapping story line.  But life is not intended to be lived like the characters in fictional settings.  Sharing what we know, what we experience, and what we are thinking or planning, is a mature response to life.  Listening as others share enriches us.  Sharing information offers the opportunity for graced moments and a fuller engagement with all of life.



As we look forward to honoring our moms this weekend, the thought occurred to me that one day to honor moms is just not enough.  The reason, of course, is that our moms have done so much in our lives that one day just can’t hold all the appreciation we have for them.  But, also, perhaps, we need more time to honor moms because there are so many of them in our lives.

Yes, there is the one and only mom who gave us physical life and nurtured us in our youth – and there is no substitute for that!  But, if we think about it, most of us have other moms who have given us birth in other ways as well.  Many of us have particular people in our lives, be they of either gender, who have mothered us in very specific ways.  We can have spiritual moms, academic moms, courageous moms, servant moms, creative moms, leadership moms, or comforting moms.  Think about the people who have touched your life with the warmth and love of a mother’s heart.  So, as we honor our moms, let’s not forget or be afraid to honor the many other mothers – of either gender – who have mothered us and given us various aspects of life.

Thanks, mom, for all you’ve given me.  And thanks to my wonderful husband; my children; my long-time mentor; my spiritual directors; my colleagues and friends; my academic advisors; and even those strangers who have given some nurturing to me without their even knowing it!

Some have said that the greatest form of praise is imitation.  If that is true, we should not be afraid to reach out to others and be mothers ourselves.  More than likely there is someone waiting for us to open our hearts to them.  We are all meant to be mothers, because love is always needing to be born in our world. The motherhood we celebrate and we need to share is an attitude of the heart and mind, not simply a physical connection.

Happy Mother’s Day.  Say thanks to our mothers, yes, and then share the grace of motherhood with someone you know.




I am thrilled to be done with my sewing project.  What was four and a half yards of white fabric three weeks ago is now a full length minister’s robe complete with lace at the sleeves and hem.  As with anything we create, it wasn’t always easy to put it together.  But I worked with it and coaxed it and re-worked it until I have what I like.  I forgave it its tendencies to pull and drape in ways I didn’t want, and finished it this morning with great joy.  I now have a new garment I am happy with and will be proud to wear.

Imagine God’s joy in creating, forgiving, and finding pride in us!


Do you ever eavesdrop? Sometimes I can’t help it. Coming out of church this past Sunday there was a woman walking behind us on the sidewalk. I couldn’t help but hear her excited conversation.  Not steps away from the door of the church she had whipped out her cell phone and was in conversation with a friend.

“The readings were marvelous,” she said, “they are my favorite – the one about Jesus saying he is the vine and we are the branches.”  That particular gospel passage never being one of my top 10, I continued to listen.  “There is so much love in it.  It is so beautiful.  I’m so glad I came.”

She crossed the street and we found our car and we each went our separate ways.  But I’ve continued to think about her excited phone call.  In the homily that morning the priest had told the old story about the third grade teacher who asked her class “What is the difference between God and Jesus?”  One brave little girl answered: “Jesus is God with skin on.”  Then he made reference to the fact that we are all connected to Jesus in some way.   He continued this thought by making reference to the concept of six degrees of separation.  It is a theory that says that anyone in the world is only separated from anyone else by at most six people.

That being said, each of us are connected to the vine that is Jesus – maybe with fewer than six people between us – and each of us, too, must participate in the miracle of the incarnation and put God’s skin on.

Will this understanding make us excitedly call a friend and offer the grace of God’s skin in our lives?  Maybe we should try it.  We may just be the ones who receive the grace.




Recently I read an article in a magazine by Elizabeth Cahill and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  The subtitle of the article was “Confessions of a book lover.”  She was commenting on how she loved books, collected books, and needed to organize her books.  In a beautiful paragraph she writes about how the books we read make us who we are.  “For me, a personal library is an almost sacramental repository of identity.  To hold one of my books in my hand, to page through it . . . is to recall part of my own formation as a person.”

I can’t stop thinking about that comment because I so agree.  I love to read.  And there is no mistaking that the reading that we do informs us, entertains us, shapes us and helps to make us who we are.  I have loved my reading time each day since moving to DC and I have loved the information and entertainment that it has offered.  Picking up a book is the soul opening up to receive more.

When we let the personalities of history or scripture enter into our soul, they leave some of their experience and wisdom with us and so, shape us through their  words.  When we invite in the personalities of fiction and literature, they make a home in us and leave an indelible mark on our soul.

How else do we explore ancient happenings, distant places, or historical personalities from the comfort of our living rooms if not through books?  Each page we sit with provides a graced moment, a sacramental experience of another time, another place, another view, or another experience that is different from our own.  Yet each reading, each encounter with the author or the author’s creations, shapes us and fills us with food for our intellect and our imagination.

Books are truly sacred objects that provide an unlimited supply of graced moments.  They help to shape us and make us who we are.  Reading is a co-creative act that works with God to shape us into the person God intended us to be.

Perhaps we should make more time for it.







What do you do for pure fun? And, I mean pure fun.  Not fun to accomplish something or fun as in making something so we have a creative project when we are finished, but just for the fun of the very thing itself?

For years I never knew how to answer that question.  While others played video games or gathered a suntan, I would have fun sewing, or reading, or painting the bathroom.  My fun usually had a purpose or an end in mind.  My life was made up of a series of responsibilities and something always had to be done.  I could never even think of doing something fun – even my kind of fun – until all my work was completed.  And my list of things that had to be done was never ending.  So, who had time for fun?

Imagine my great joy, and not a little surprise, to find that I discovered bike riding as FUN!  After more than 45 years without riding a bike, my husband and I recently gifted each other with bicycles for our 36th anniversary.  And, to my delight I’ve discovered that bike riding is fun!

We have discovered urban trails and National Parks and the National Arboretum.  After a brief period of getting accustomed to the ride, going out yesterday was pure fun.  We went out to Sharpsburg, MD, the site of the battle of Antietam, and biked the park.  The day was gorgeous, the temperature perfect, the scenery beyond belief, and the bike ride lovely.  It was a wonderful mix of flat stretches with slow inclines among the rolling hills of Maryland.

Riding my bike yesterday brought back so many memories of being a child and just riding for riding’s sake.  Entire days during the summers of my youth were spent riding my bike through the neighborhoods.  My bike was like my best friend and there was not a day I did not ride it and meet with others who would ride and play with me.

Riding brought back to me a freedom of space and place.  It brought with it a rapid movement that blew the wind up in my face and made me feel like I was flying.  It really was FUN and filled me with the grace of memories and movement.

What do you do for fun?  What graced moments are you discovering?






Evening walk with friends

It is pouring rain today, and I’m not going out for a walk. So, I am remembering, pondering, and savoring the walk I took last night.

A friend was in town and had only been here once before for a very short time. So, we took advantage of the lovely, warm, almost summer evening and went to the Air and Space Museum, the Sculpture Garden, and walked around the Tidal Basin.  The afternoon was sunny, the evening – almost full moon lit.  It was beautiful.

As we walked and admired the sights, we shared stories, remembered mutual friends, asked questions, listened and fostered our friendship.

Surrounded by the beauty and history of this city, the entire afternoon and evening was filled with graced moments.

It’s all in the details

I’ve known that so many things are in the details. Yet, it’s easy to skip right by the small stuff in favor of finishing the larger project.  The details are so easily lost because the project has to be completed – and, who is going to look that closely, anyway?

Imagine my surprise and joy to see a total project of nothing but the tiniest of details!  This VW bug, displayed in the National Museum of the Native American, is covered entirely in seed beads that represent Native American symbols and designs.  The larger project is only possible because of the tiny details.

The next time I think I don’t have time for the details, I’m going to remember this scene – where even the hubcaps and window frames are decorated in tiny – very tiny – seed beads.  The completed work of art is comprised of nothing but the details.  And, if we think of our lives, we could see them as much the same.  Every detail is important.  Every detail  – of the tiniest nature – is a grace that is important to the total compliment of who we are designed to become.  Grace is in the details.  It’s all in the details.



How easily we lose sight of specialness. It’s all around us, but we become acclimated to it and so, easily lose it. It becomes “normal” to us and we no longer see how unique and glorious this special sight is.

I went to the National Mall yesterday to meet a friend flying in from the West Coast.  As I waited to cross a street while walking over to our meeting place, I overheard two people talking.  One was amazed at the beauty of this city.  She was awed by the size and majesty of the monuments.  She commented on the spirit of reverence she felt for all who make our country great, and for those who have given their lives to this purpose.  Her friend, obviously a local, commented “Everybody thinks that when they first come here.  And then we lose sight of it.  It just becomes our walk to work.”

How sad that such specialness becomes ordinary.  What are the scenes that are so familiar to us that we have forgotten to see the grace they hold for us?  Perhaps we need to wake afresh each day with new eyes to see all that is familiar in a new way.  Maybe then we will not lose the special grace of such a unique and reverent place – wherever it is.

A Quote

While reading yesterday I came across a beautiful line.  It was included in a book of readings gathered around the subject of the human heart and was taken from a letter written by Marsilio Picino to a dear friend.

“But in truth my great love for you has impressed your image on my soul.  And just as I sometimes see myself outside myself in a mirror, so often I see you within me in my heart.”

What a lovely image of friendship and love.  How often do we let the images of our friendships and loves impress themselves upon our souls so we might see them in our hearts?  Time and distance cannot destroy the indelible image carved upon the human heart.

Can we allow our hearts to grow large enough to become the storehouse of every graced moment of love and friendship?  Perhaps some heart exercises are needed to increase our heart’s capacity to hold such grace.