My Many Birthday Selves

Today is my 58th birthday. This morning I received a note from an old friend—someone one month younger than I—who posed the question we all ask as the years mount: What am I doing in this old person’s body? I still feel like the person who played the sax in the marching band, the person…

Raids on the Unspeakable

One of the gifts of vacation is to change up one’s prayer ritual. Normally, Pam and I sit for prayer in a corner of our bedroom. There are two chairs, a small table for an oil lamp, a few sacred books, and a timer that sounds a Tibetan prayer bell when our orison is over….

Those Empty Adirondack Chairs

You’ve seen them, no doubt. Down by a little pond in the front yard sit two Adirondack chairs, side by side. The perfect place for two people to relax, look out over the water, maybe notice a frog on the bank and a sparrow in the tree overhead. The settings for these two chairs are…

Two Words and a Wedding

  Tonight I will officiate at my second wedding in a week. I like weddings, but I always struggle with what to say. At baptisms, the parents in the front pews listen even though they’re often tussling with older siblings of the one in white. At funerals, people listen intently. Their stare—both skeptical and desperate—says:…

For All The Robin Williams’s in My Life

I was startled, then saddened this morning to read of Robin Williams’ death. “. . .suicide by asphyxia.” “ . . . battling severe depression.” “ . . .  addiction to alcohol.” “. . . an admitted abuser of cocaine — which he also referred to as ‘Peruvian marching power’ and ‘the devil’s dandruff’.” I…