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It was such lovely long drive up the Niagara river—we took the slow scenic route after crossing the Canadian border—so that by the time we arrived in the picturesque village of Niagara-on-the-Lake we were eager to find the darling little cottage we’d be staying in for the week. We turned on Victoria Street, pulled into…

Big Worries? Chunk Down.

artificial intelligence spirituality

Everybody’s worried about A.I., Artificial Intelligence. Computers are already beating us at picking stocks and diagnosing cancer. There are already speech programs that can detect sarcasm, and algorithms are writing music, painting canvasses and telling jokes. We’re all worried that the “Robocalypse” will steal more than 800 million jobs in the next decade. But the…

If You or Someone You Know is Sick . . .

I believe in healing. Good thing, because my prayer list is growing these days. So many of the people I love are struggling with mental or physical illness. Some people are skeptical of “healing” as a spiritual phenomenon. They believe in medicine and doctors, but not anointing someone with oil, laying on hands and praying,…

All My Flora

I was all excited to develop two new gardens this spring. I forgot what happens after you plant. Congratulations, you have just adopted thirty infant children. Human infants are famously helpless. So are saplings and bushes and flowers. A few days ago it was raw and wet and cold. Suddenly it’s nearly ninety and they…

Naming Our Friends

A few days ago a friend texted to say he had something to give me and when would be a good time to stop by. When he came we sat down. He opened a bag and offered me a small gift as an emblem of our friendship. Handing me the gift, he recounted the thirty-year…

The Ceaseless Longing

Driving home late this rainy spring evening I am listening to the radio. A man is talking about one of those untranslateable German words, like schadenfreude. This one is fernweh. Literally, it’s “farsickness,” but what the Germanic word connotes, the man says, is something more like “longing for a place you’ve never been.” Maybe I…

The Stone Wall Whispers

It’s the week after Easter and I am building a stone wall. Well, not quite. I am an apprentice to a real stone mason, my neighbor Mike. For months my only job is to find stones and pile them at the work site. The land here in Pennsylvania is mostly rocks, but the stone finder’s…

Passion, Anybody?

“What are you passionate about?” Anyone’s who’s ever had a job interview has had to endure this question. It’s first up on the eHarmony profile (and if you’re afraid that, despite your best efforts, your response will be a cliché—‘family and friends!’—there are coaches who will help you write something catchier). I bring up passion…

Trust Yourself

Fifth in a five-part series Chaim Potok, the distinguished Jewish novelist, tells how he knew he wanted to be a writer when he was very young. But his mother said, “Chaim, be a brain surgeon. You’ll save a lot of people from dying, and you’ll make a better living.” So he grew up and went…

The Secret Prayer

  Fourth in a five-part series As a young boy I remember going to “Prayer Meeting” on Wednesday nights at the Baptist Church. We sat in the pews, we sang hymns, the pastor preached a sermon–it was just like Sunday morning, except that we took some prayer requests and the preacher offered a longer “pastoral…

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