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You can change your mind, even about the big stuff

An upstate New York church recently asked me if I would do a Zoom talk for their parish book club, which had just finished reading “Walking Together,” my 2010 book on spiritual friendship. They sent me some questions in advance — challenging questions that forced me to sit in silent reflection and struggle with answers that would not be easy. I emailed the moderator and asked if the group was likely to be disappointed if my answers were very different from what they might expect. No, she said. Fire away.

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Accept. Adapt. Surrender. Trust.

Chiara, 15, walked into our family room after a socially distanced bike ride with a friend and wisely observed that just a couple of months ago wearing a mask seemed like such a burden, an unusual discomfort, but now it’s completely normal and not really a big deal at all. That was perfect timing on her part because I, too, had been pondering the ways we humans are able to adapt to challenging or different circumstances with relative ease (unless we’re just stubborn), and isn’t that a marvelous and miraculous thing.

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To understand struggle, go deeper

A little more than five years ago, I stood on land owned by distant DeTurris relatives in Massa Lubrense, Italy, the birthplace of my paternal grandfather, and looked out at the Isle of Capri in the distance. (Seen in the photo here.) To say it was breathtaking is the understatement of the century. On a boat ride across the Bay of Naples, I imagined my grandfather and his family leaving that same port on a steamer headed toward New York. All the while I kept wondering how difficult their lives must have been to make them leave behind that picture-postcard scene and head into the frightening unknown.

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If you missed me on Relevant Radio this week…

So, last week I was supposed to be on the Morning Air Show on Relevant Radio. (I used to be a monthly contributor to this wonderful program back in the days when I worked from home.) Anyway, my interview time came and went last week without me remembering. I left the hosts hanging! Mortified is an understatement. But, they graciously offered a rematch. So this Monday I joined John Harper and Glen Lewerenz for a brief conversation about the way spiritual truth and the Holy Spirit always find a way to speak to us, no matter where we are in life. IF we’re willing to listen…

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Spiritual truth is always right on time

For the past two months, I’ve been receiving emails and private messages from folks who read Rejoice and Be Glad, my book of daily reflections for Easter to Pentecost. Although each message was different in content, most had a similar sentiment. People were reading my 2020 reflections in the midst of the pandemic, knowing I must have written them long before —more than a year before—but feeling as though they were speaking to the conditions of the present day. How, they wanted to know, could I be addressing the current situation from a place in the past?

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Falling for spring in a season of fear

For my entire life, whenever someone asked me to name my favorite season, I would say, without any hesitation, “fall!” There was something about the colors of the trees, the crispness of the air, the crunch of the apples. Then this year, as I sat by my window day after day from mid-March and all through April, watching the world outside as I worked from home or sipped my coffee or chatted with my family, I noticed something shifting. Spring had become my new favorite, and, although that may not seem like news to you, I find it groundbreaking, as though a new me has emerged from a cocoon along with the life just beyond the windowpanes.

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Pausing Fear, Choosing Joy

The past month has been a dance of gratitude and fear. Gratitude that, so far, my family is healthy and together under one roof — all five of us around the dinner table each night, favorite movies flickering on the TV in the evenings, coffee sipped on the deck on those warmer sunny mornings that feel like a gift. But then, often as the sun goes down or the skies cloud over, fear creeps in and, with it, an element of despair. All the “what if….” worries start to clamor for attention, pounding on the door to my heart and racing through my mind in an endless relay. Suddenly the fear of what could be overpowers the gratitude for what is.

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Defy definitions, trust your own story

Everyone has his or her own story. Our history, family, faith, environment—all of it combines to create a background story that runs through our entire life, for better or worse. Through the ups and downs, the surprise plot twists, the losses and accomplishments, we write a new chapter day by day.

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The gift of community, the joy of the tribe

The older I get, the more I like to tackle things I probably have no business tackling. In the course of the past 10 years, I’ve done everything from tennis lessons (I was never much of an athlete) to dance classes (hip hop and belly dancing, of all things), from pottery and mixed media (I was always known for being “bad” at art) to Italian lessons (Spanish was always my second language of choice). And for the pièce de résistance, I am nearing the completion of 200-hour yoga teacher training, where I am, by far, one of the oldest in the class.

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Finding God in the land of the ‘Nones’

I traveled to Seattle a few weeks ago to give a parish retreat at St. Monica’s Church on Mercer Island. Long before I boarded the plane for my first visit to the Pacific Northwest, friends on both coasts warned me that I was headed to the land of the “Nones,” where people are spiritual but not religious, and maybe not even all that spiritual. What could I possibly offer out there in a city where God seems to be dead, or, at the very least, in hibernation?

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