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It Tolls for Thee

Rarely am I so moved. The funeral for my mother-in-law ended. I lined up with five other pallbearers and walked the white coffin to the hearse. We got in our car and waited for the procession to begin. Pam began quietly to weep. There is something startling about the hearse and the coffin, the physicality…

The Power of Simple Touch

He lay there with only his diaper on, my grandson Dashiell. It was seven o’clock, time for his bedtime rituals. My wife, who adores this eight week-old child, is ready to give Dash his massage. She dips her hands in coconut oil and begins to stroke his stomach. She rubs his legs and presses her…

Patches

If you visit the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi, you will find a small museum containing some of the most famous relics of the saint. The finest is the patched robe Francis wore to cover “Brother Body.”  It was a sign of his poverty vow, certainly, but a plain brown robe would do for…

The Ones Who Couldn’t Get Out

“How we view the world,” writes John Dear, “depends on where we stand. If we stand with the wealthy we will contemplate the world from the heights of privilege and domination. If, however, we stand with those who are poor and marginalized, oppressed and persecuted, then we shall contemplate the world from the experience of…

“My Old Man”

Today is my father’s birthday. He is 96. I love my father. I always have loved him. Sometimes a boy will go through stages where he does not trust his father, or turns against him so that a bitterness and anger rises in the boy’s heart. That was never true for me. There were times…

Two Notes

There is an old Jewish story that helps prepare us for Ash Wednesday and the coming of Lent. A certain rabbi, seeking to know his place in the world, kept with him two notes. In one pocket he kept a note which said, “For me the world was created.” In the other he tucked a…

Judgers and Blessers

Priests and ministers get calls from the local funeral home all the time. Someone has died. They may have been Methodist or Lutheran or Episcopalian, whatever the denomination of your church, but that’s the only, tenuous connection. Would you come and do a service? I walked into the funeral home and met the two daughters….

Lean Into the Light

  Today—February 2nd—is a big turning point. It’s a great cross-quarter day, midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. In ancient, agricultural societies it was regarded as the beginning of spring—the time for first turning the soil in preparation for March planting. There were prayers and rituals centered on the fertility of the…

Day Number 21,328

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” -Psalm 90:12 I have done the math, and the number of my days since birth is 21, 328. (It’s easy: go to numbermydays.com and enter your birthday.) I don’t suggest you take the Psalm literally, but it’s not a bad…

God is Not Urgent

About now, many of us are looking at our New Year’s resolutions and wondering what happened to our resolve. I don’t care much for resolutions, since they are mostly attempts to arm-wrestle small problems into submission without having to look plainly at one’s life. I like “priorities” instead of “resolutions.” Which reminds me immediately of…

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