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12 years and counting…

Today is the 12th anniversary of this blog. I launched it back in 2008 on the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers, not really knowing what would happen. Back then, I was able to be here daily, sometimes multiple times per day, a luxury I no longer have. I miss being here with you regularly and I do continually hope that I can increase my presence in the future, but I want to thank all of you who continue to visit. Thank you for being patient, for staying with me, and for lifting me up with your comments and emails when I do get around to posting something here.

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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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Seattle snapshot: Advent 101

A very brief invitation to my Seattle Advent retreat. My first time in the Pacific Northwest. I loved it, and I found a spiritual vibe everywhere — at Pike Place Market, in the Ubers I called, at the vendor where I bought local wine. It may be the land of the “nones,” but the Force is strong with this one. Loved my visit. Can’t wait to go back again someday when I have more time to island hop. Thank you to St. Monica Church on Mercer Island and to the very welcoming folks of Seattle. (You have to sit through one minute of an empty ambo while they announce me. Never fear, I do eventually show up there.)

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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