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Finding Water in Cuba

  A few days ago I drank water from a spigot in Itabo, Cuba. It was the water of life. I don’t know why this is, but almost always we must go to the desert to find water. Of course no one “goes to the desert to find water.” We find ourselves in desert spots,…

Stretch Out Your Hands

Today I changed my father’s diaper. He is mostly helpless, half paralyzed from a stroke and, at 97, weakened. Congestive heart failure and dangerously low blood pressure had already sidelined my father. Now he cannot swallow and must be fed through a peg in his stomach. He has lost 30 pounds. Every bone showing, he…

Love that Will Not Let Go

Palm Sunday. This day is an on-ramp for a kind of sanctified chaos. In one moment we hit glory and plummet in the next to tragedy. Our mouths fill with the richness of that final meal-before-the gallows, then our tongues dry and the pits of our stomachs sour in the fast. If suffering is simply…

Forgiving…To Save Our Own Lives

Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son brings us into the presence of absolute forgiveness. We toss around the idea of “unconditional love” as if it were not a dangerous thing. We love the notion of forgiveness…but only to a point. After all, there is finally a right and a wrong. Jesus’ story of forgiveness is…

The Kindness Mandate

Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden. -Ian MacLaren Today I met a woman with a story that stung. Her daughter gave birth to her first grandchild, a beautiful boy. Sheer joy. But immediately the problems started. The little boy could not suck or swallow. After days of tests and anguish, during…

The Prophet in Solitary

What if you were locked up for twenty-seven years? I am listening to the radio, and a man is talking about his advocacy for prisoners in solitary confinement. He receives, he says, fifty letters a day from men in solitary. He reads from several letters. The one that has my jaw hanging slack comes from…

When the Game Breaks Down

We often speak about life as a game. If we’re going to succeed or “win,” we have to have determination, zeal, a willingness to fight and prevail against all comers. But tucked into the corners of that metaphor is also the sense that human life in society is governed by artificial rules or expectations—the kind…

Overthinking the Miracle

This morning the rains doused everything and then moved on. The clouds broke and the early morning sun broke through. Coming low off the horizon it backlit a wet landscape. I looked out and saw the bare and black tree branches dripping with tiny water droplets and in the brilliant sun they appeared as a…

The Glory of Nothing

In the first blush of the season of Epiphany, I think I had one today. I was talking to a friend on the phone last week. He said, I’m not really enjoying work. My commute to D.C is a bear. My work life is winding down toward retirement. But what am I good at these…

Falling Down a Wormhole

I’ve been away for a while. Some of you have asked where I’ve been. The thing is, I’m not sure. I do know that almost exactly one year ago my first grandchild was born, and for a wonderful time Dashiell and his parents lived with us during maternity leave. About the time they moved back…

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