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Don’t wait. Say yes.

I first got to know Sister Johanne McCarthy, C.S.J., about 18 months ago when she wrote to complain that our Albany diocesan newspaper wasn’t giving religious sisters the same treatment priests and deacons received on the obituary pages. I had to agree with her. It certainly seemed that the sisters were getting short-changed. So I joined her in advocating for equality in the obits, and that was the beginning of a beautiful-but-too-brief friendship.

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The Things We Save

I returned home from work one day recently to see a For Sale sign on the lawn of our elderly neighbors, a retired Army doctor and nurse. They’ve been living on our street since the houses were first built in the 1960s and have been a fixture throughout our almost 20-year life two houses down. He would walk several times a day, always with a walking stick. She would keep tabs on the neighborhood happenings and report back at our occasional potluck picnics. So it was with no small amount of sadness that I learned they had both been moved to nursing home care and their children had listed the house on the market.

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Angels and Saints

The feasts and celebrations that surround us at this time in the liturgical year can do a soul some much-needed good. It’s hard to feel like a solitary seeker when we are basking in the glow of angels and saints on all sides. We Catholics keep good company, and the nice part is that we’re not outsiders waiting to be let into the club. We’re part of the communion, one of the gang, albeit on this side of the divide.

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The way to ease is not easy

September always feels like the start of a new year to me, much more so than Jan. 1 ever does. It must be the perennial student in me. I can’t even resist the piles of discounted school supplies that fill every store at the end of summer. I buy at least a few neon-colored, spiral-bound notebooks and one box of perfectly pointed Crayola crayons every fall. Something about it settles my soul and makes me feel like I’ve got a blank slate and the possibility of a rainbow within reach.

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For and Against

In the span of one week, at my job as a Church communications director, I had two people separately accuse me of completely opposite — and equally untrue — realities. One person sent me an online message implying I was ignorant at best and a heretic at worst for running a column in the diocesan newspaper written by a religious sister who mentioned her use of Centering Prayer. The other sent me a handwritten, anonymous screed because our newspaper had run a single image of a Latin Mass. This writer accused me of taking the entire diocese to a “pre-conciliar” time.

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Fierce and Fearless at 57

“I’ve done my best work, really, my most important work, from the ages of maybe 57 to now.” That quote is from the poetic writer and musician Patti Smith, 72, in a recent interview with the New York Times.

That quote struck a chord and affirmed what I’ve been feeling as I head into this new stage of life. I turned 57 yesterday, and I can tell you that I believe, God willing, I will be able to say the same as Patti when I reach 72. I believe my most important work is ahead of me. I am talking about in addition to THE most important work of mother and wife, which would be enough if that was my only work in this life.

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Merton in the Mountains: A Silent Retreat

First we’ll get to the details, then the back story. I have stepped in to lead the 26th annual Merton in the Mountains silent retreat at Pyramid Life Center in Paradox, N.Y. — in the gorgeous Adirondack Mountains — Friday to Sunday, Sept. 6 to 8. There are still open spots for this weekend opportunity to step away from the busyness of everyday life and unplug, be still and just listen. As if that’s not enough, we’ll have talks, moving meditations, mindful meals, and the chance (weather permitting) to hike, kayak, or just kick back in an Adirondack chair on one of the many decks and soak in the silence and the boundless natural beauty. It’s only $130, all inclusive (program, accommodations, meals.)

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Life — the daring adventure

When I was working as a reporter for Catholic New York back in the 1980s, I had one of those quote-of-the-day calendars on the desk in my cubicle overlooking Manhattan. All these years later, after multiple cross-country moves, one of those calendar pages remains with me. It was a Helen Keller quote from March 28, 1988, only two weeks before my mother would die at 47 years old in our family room: “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature…Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

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Build community, start small

I went back to yoga class last month after a long break. Day by day, as I returned to my mat in a room surrounded by people— mostly strangers—of all ages, shapes and sizes, I felt the comfort and love of that community starting to envelop me. It wasn’t by accident that this yoga school has a welcoming feeling; the strengthening of connections, the building of relationships is done with intention.

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The world needs beauty

I was lucky enough to visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris about one year ago, when I went to the City of Lights with my daughter, Olivia, on a mother-daughter trip. We stood in the highest towers and looked at the city fanning out below us. We listened as people below erupted in a chorus of cheers when France scored its first goal in the World Cup. We stood beside the great bell and behind the hulking gargoyles. It was a dream come true. Then we watched in horror April 15 when the gorgeous cathedral burned out of control.

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