Last week I was working out in a corner of our backyard where I decided to create a meditation garden. The area, which had once been home to a swing set, had become overrun with weeds and was, for the most part, lost space. I came up with the idea for the garden last year when pandemic gave me ample opportunity to work outside.
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.
When I arrived at Pyramid Life Center in the Adirondack Mountains last month to lead a retreat, I was excited but nervous. As is always the case when I lead a group, I want to be sure I give participants what they need, the spiritual nourishment they’re craving. Most times when I wrap up, I’m a bit depleted from putting out so much spiritual energy over the course of a few days, but this time I was energized and uplifted, riding a spiritual high that was fed by the 30+ people who engaged in the retreat so fully they left me awed and humbled and inspired.
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.
A few years ago, I was asked to write an essay for the Soul Seeing column that appears regularly in the National Catholic Reporter. That essay turned into a moment for me. What started as an assignment, became a journey, as is so often the case. The essay I turned in back in 2014 was the first in which I explored in writing my lifelong habit of collecting broken sea shells and looked at it from a spiritual perspective. That original essay grew into more writings on the topic and, eventually, into a retreat day I offer: “Broken, Beautiful, and Beloved: Learning to See Ourselves through God’s Eyes.”
Now my original essay is part of this wonderful collection from Orbis Books. I am so honored to have my writing included alongside that of spiritual writers such as James Martin, Richard Rohr, Joyce Rupp, Brian Doyle, and so many others. A special word of thanks to Mike Leach, publisher emeritus of Orbis Books and creator of Soul Seeing, for asking me to write that first essay and for inviting me to be part of this book. It’s a lovely collection, something that would make the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who’s traveling the spiritual path and looking for a little nourishment along the way.
You can order Soul Seeing directly from Orbis Books or Amazon. You’ll find me on page 179 under the title “Brokenness Lets Us See Where True Beauty Lies.”
I stood in the parking lot of a Holiday Inn Express in Syracuse one recent Saturday morning before dawn, fumbling with my car keys and coffee cup and thinking about the long drive and long day ahead. I wasn’t headed home but instead to a Eucharistic Congress hosted by the Diocese of Albany at the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, where more than 4,000 pilgrims would converge on the sacred ground of St. Kateri Tekakwitha and the North American martyrs. Read more
I am so very sorry for leaving you all hanging for, what is it now? Two weeks? I know we need to cover chapters 6 AND 7 of the Cravings journey, and we’ll get to that post haste, but first I just need to let you know that, while I wasn’t here on the blog with you, I was with you in spirit, wishing every day I could find five minutes to stop by and say something. It’s been a bit of a crazy month so far. In my other life (my full-time job as Director of Communications for the Diocese of Albany), I was busy launching a new website. I’m pretty proud of it, so, if you have any interest, you can see that by clicking here. For a while there, it was taking every waking moment (and most of the sleeping moments as well), but I’m back and ready to talk Cravings. The next chapter is one that hits home for me because it focuses on balance, something I clearly need more of in my own life. Read more
By the time we end our Cravings journey in a few weeks, we will be well into Lent. Hard to believe. And yet, the liturgical calendar seems so perfectly timed for this tribe. We can take what we’ve been talking about here and kick it up a notch, if we so choose, in the weeks ahead. As we delve into Chapter 5: Feast or Famine, we can use the lessons here as a precursor to the Lenten journey that will begin on Ash Wednesday, February 14. Read more