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Fearless Weirdness

I am a little weird. Aren’t you? I’ve been thinking about weirdness the last few weeks because, in the Christian season of Advent, John the Baptist has appeared. Every year he comes to haunt us with his strangeness—his animal skins for clothing, his grasshoppers for food, his cave for a home, his “repent” for a…

Beware: Inner Peace

I received this alert, and it’s the kind of warning that–in this Advent season–I am delighted to pass on. Symptoms of Inner Peace Be on the lookout for symptoms of inner peace. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to inner peace and it is possible that people everywhere could come down…

You Shall Conceive and Bear a (Grand) Child

My daughter is having a baby which means that I am having a grandchild. Grandparenthood is once removed. This is a birth you did not conceive. You did not have any choice in this matter. Often parents have to “try” to have a child. They decide that now is a good time to allow it…

Excuse Me, Mr. Buddha

  I spent last week in a monastery praying with Buddhist monks and nuns. It wasn’t as easy as I thought. Every November I take a week of retreat—almost always to a Benedictine monastery. I love to sit in chapel and hear the monks chant the Psalms, to walk the cloister, to sit in the…

‘Prophylactic’ Suicide

Many of us who are still in good health have decided . . . that at some point we will not wish to cope with the diminishment of our lives, the narrowing choices, the prospect of both physical and intellectual decay. When that point comes, we’ll go out. Deciding just when should be the choice…

Just for a Moment

One of the lessons we learn as we grow older is to cherish life every day, and not to pin our hopes on a future that never comes. We all believe in the myth of future bliss. Americans especially swear by this one—that with a lot of hard work and sacrifice we’ll one day achieve…

Choose to Love Now

  Pam and I spent the weekend with our parents: Pam with her mother and I with my father. Her father died only a year ago or so, and my mother is gone fifteen years now. Both our parents—vigorous in their old age—have suffered setbacks in the last six months. Pam’s mother is on hospice,…

A Cancer Survivor’s Calling

  “I know what my calling is,” Brenda said. She is a cancer survivor, alive today, she told me, because three women had carried her on their prayers from fear and death to healing and life. She went on . . . I’ll give you an example. I went for a scan, and I’m so…

A Stroke of Enlightening

One morning a blood vessel exploded in Jill Bolte Taylor’s brain. She felt a deep pain—like a head freeze from eating ice cream—behind her left eye. Slowly she watched as her brain functions shut down—speech, cognition, motion. Jill was a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist—a brain scientist, observing a brain undergoing a stroke . . . from the…

Be Not Afraid

“Hurricane Fay to fade, but Gonzalo waits in the wings.” My home page opens to NBC News, and this is the latest headline. If we are disappointed that Fay has faded, it means to say, there is yet more to worry about. Ganzalo waits in the wings. Polls show that Americans are increasingly afraid. We…

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