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.
“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.
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.”
This week our diocese held its fourth annual Concert for Vocations, which has become a favorite among the faithful. More than 600 people turned out at St. Pius X Church in Loudonville for performances by Bishop Scharfenberger, clergy, religious, seminarians, and lay people. Yours truly was among them. I brought the honky tonk. What a great night. I have so many talented co-workers! Here’s my performance of Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight.” Read more
If eyes are the windows to the soul, I think feet may be the doorway to all understanding. That revelation came to me recently when I was in the front pew of my parish church in upstate New York. I was kneeling after Communion and didn’t want to look toward the altar as I prayed because doing so would have felt intrusive to those receiving Communion just a few feet away. So, I looked down at the floor in front of me. Read more
Well, so much for me posting this one from the archives “tomorrow,” as promised on Feb. 18. Obviously, things continue at a breakneck pace, and I will admit that I am multitasking — the bane of the mindful existence — to the point that my head is spinning most of the time, to the point where I’m forgetting things because there are way too many “things” piling up higher and higher. Precisely because of my penchant for doing too many things at once and my love of the mindfulness practice, this is quite possibly my favorite chapter in Cravings. 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
Sorry for the delay in getting our latest Cravings Tribe post up on the blog. This week we’re tackling chapter 4, Freedom by the Forkful, and taking a closer look at willpower, sane eating, and the ways our need for love and peace in our lives can keep us tied to high-fat comfort foods that make us feel good for the moment but drag us down over the long haul. I can see that at play in my own life. Back when I wrote this chapter of Cravings years ago, I was working out of my house and able to make time and space for my daily meditative morning ritual of “mindful oatmeal.” In addition, I’d often take time out of my day to chop up some veggies and make a green drink or start a pot of soup or do some other prep so I could have a healthy, Read more