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Receiving unexpected grace via the U.S. mail

Grace can be hard to put your finger on, like trying to grab at fog or hold onto a breeze. I remember even back when I was writing The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism that I struggled to define it in a way that would make sense to people, especially people who maybe had never really contemplated that word before and what it might mean in their lives. Read more

A little rainy day Rumi: Plant only love…

When you plant a tree
every leaf that grows will tell you,
what you sow will bear fruit.

So if you have any sense, my friend
don’t plant anything but love,
you show your worth by what you seek.


PBS features a real doctor of the Church, one with the bedside manner of a saint

“From a spiritual standpoint what I try and do as a physician is that even if I can’t cure the situation, even if I can’t cure the condition, if even I can’t make it all go away, if they’re being overburdened with that cross, if I can just hold up a corner sometimes, it might make it light enough for them to be able to carry it and move on.” Those are the beautiful and somewhat unexpected words of Dr. Joseph Dutkowsky, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in caring for people with disabilities. Read more

Finding joy in an unexpected gift of pastry

Have you ever felt the urge to do something totally spontaneous and generous for someone but then pulled back at the last minute for any number of “logical” reasons — too expensive, too complicated, too time-consuming, too something. I know I’ve been there. So many times I’ve had a great idea but never followed through, usually because I let the responsibilities of life overwhelm me and become my excuse. Read more

A Lenten Valentine: How do I love thee?

I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day, never have been. Not sure why. I guess it’s mainly due to the commercial craziness of it and the push from retailers to give extravagant gifts as an expression of love. I’ll take flowers for no reason over roses on a forced holiday any time. Can I have two Ash Wednesdays instead? I know, weird, right? That’s why you love me. I’ll be expecting an extravagant gift by lunchtime. Read more

A lesson for all of us from Sportskids of the Year

I was going to put up an anniversary post today to mark the fifth birthday of Not Strictly Spiritual. And then a Facebook friend posted the video below, and I realized that this is what I needed to post. I can only tell you about all the things I’d like my blog to be and how I’d like it to help you on your spiritual journey. But this video and these children can show you what it means to love and to live out the Gospel day by day through their actions. What a beautiful story. Please watch it.

Finding patience on the mat — and off

I always get to the 5:45 a.m. yoga class at least 10 minutes early, better to settle in and spend a little time in silence before the studio fills up. Today was no different, at least not at first. I stretched a bit before closing my eyes and taking up half-lotus, patiently waiting for our teacher to arrive. Soon. Shortly. Any minute now…. Read more