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Manic Monday: Holy Week Edition

It’s been a while since I checked in here on a Monday, so I thought Holy Week would be a good time to do it. I hope you are all healthy and happy and enjoying the occasional bouts of spring — at least here in upstate New York — that give us hope that winter really is going to end, and soon. It feels like a figurative end to winter as well, as more and more folks get their vaccines and the hope of returning to in-person gatherings seems like a not-too-distant reality. I held back on saying a return to “normal,” because I don’t think we should return to normal. I hope and pray that this pandemic has taught us what’s important and what’s unnecessary and what is simply holding us back from true happiness in this life. Let’s not forget the hard lessons we’ve learned over the past year. I say that for myself as much as for anyone else because it’s easy to backtrack and return to old — and not necessarily positive — habits. Path of least resistance and all. So here’s to holding onto the pandemic lessons that opened our eyes and hearts and letting go of the pandemic fears and anxiety. That being said, WEAR A MASK until we are totally out of the woods. On to our Manic Monday rundown…

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Everyday mindfulness for everyone

I was recently asked to give a Zoom presentation on mindfulness for co-workers at the Diocese of Albany’s Pastoral Center. Because, as I’ve been known to say here again and again, mindfulness is not just for Buddhists. I thought other folks might be interested in this brief talk on what mindfulness is and how to weave into everyday life.

Remembering the Sisters who guided me on my path

The editor of the Albany diocesan newspaper came into my office recently and asked if I wanted to share a memory of an experience with a religious sister for National Catholic Sisters Week in March. My knee-jerk reaction was, “I don’t have any memories of religious sisters.” Not having gone to Catholic school, religious sisters were not part of my childhood. But then my mind jumped forward a few years and I said, “Wait. I do have a story.”

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‘Broken, Beautiful and Beloved,’ a June 25-27 retreat at Bon Secours in Maryland

If you are near — or can get to — the stunning Bon Secours Retreat & Conference Center in Marriottsville, Maryland, I’ve got a weekend retreat to kick off your summer. I’ll be presenting “Broken, Beautiful, and Beloved: Learning to See Ourselves through God’s Eyes,” from Friday, June 25, at 3 p.m. through Sunday, June 27, at 1 p.m.

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Stillpoint retreat Sept. 10-12 open for registration

Registration is now open for the third-annual Stillpoint retreat at Pyramid Life Center to be held Friday, Sept. 10, through Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021. Spots are filling up fast, so don’t wait to hold your space for this retreat that will allow you find calm amid life’s chaos, spend time in silence, build community, eat great food with great people, laugh (a lot), kayak, practice yoga, hike, pray, and just be.

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Cravings Tribe: Transition week has arrived

We started out on this revolution-not-resolution journey of inner transformation at the beginning of the new year. The plan was to bring some new habits into our lives — things that might foster peace, balance, and a sense of gratitude despite the craziness of the world around us. I can tell you that, for me, it was definitely a dance of moving forward a little bit, slipping back now and then, and standing still more than I would have liked. And that’s okay. After all these years of trying to make spiritual “progress,” I know this is par for the course, and I’ve come to accept the slowness of this work. This is not the kind of thing that can be rushed.

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Lent: Are you willing to be surprised by God?

Flannery O’Connor, the American Catholic southern gothic writer, once said, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

That line has always resonated with me, but never more so than when I sit down to write reflections on Scripture readings, verses that can feel so familiar there seems nothing new to uncover. My latest book of reflections, Not by Bread Alone 2021: Daily Reflections for Lent (Liturgical Press), is my third book of Lenten meditations and prayers, and so the challenge is real — but realer still is the truth that lives within Scripture. Old passages can speak new hope to us at any particular moment of our lives if we are willing to open ourselves up to the work and words of the Spirit. Even the familiarity of Lent itself can turn a season of growth into a rote spiritual exercise if we are not prepared to be surprised by God, sometimes in uncomfortable ways.

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You Can’t Fail Lent

The column originally ran on Huffington Post in 2015, but it’s a favorite so here it is one more time, just in time:

Lent is one of those seasons that always begins with the best of intentions and rapidly goes downhill, at least that’s how it usually plays out for me. I plan to pray more, eat less, and find creative ways to make my favorite time in the Church year more meaningful. Unfortunately, the ashes hardly have time to settle into the wrinkles on my forehead before I’m feeling like I’ve already failed.

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Feast of St. Blaise: Do-it-yourself throat blessings

These days — especially in the time of COVID — throat blessings are hard to come by. No, make that near impossible. It’s just not that common anymore, even in the best of times. Years ago, I took it upon myself to do the blessings. And, yes, that’s allowed. The first time I blessed throats for my class of fourth-grade faith formation students, they looked at me in fear and asked if I was going to light those candles before holding them up to their throats. Ah, how sad that these kids don’t know some of the more interesting traditions of our faith. But once I told them about St. Blaise, a bishop and martyr who is said to have healed a boy who was choking on a fish bone, they were all in, and eagerly so.

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Week 5: Connecting with nature, even a snow storm

Okay, so we skipped Week 4 here on the blog. I have to apologize. I was not taking my own advice and was allowing myself to sink into a bit of darkness and poor-me thinking. I couldn’t motivate myself to write or meditate or even do my personal yoga practice. None of that wallowing did me a bit of good, but you know how it is sometimes.

I think it’s important to share that with you if only to remind you that it’s okay if you stray off the path or pull into a rest stop for a few days. When you’re ready, dust yourself off and begin again. The only thing you should try to continue to do no matter what else is going on is your gratitude journal. But always, always continue to be kind and gentle with yourself no matter how this journey is going for you.

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