Monastic Gin

I am sitting with my father, playing gin rummy, but I might as well be sitting in a monastery or any retreat house. I am here for a week. Our days are simple and highly ritualized. Breakfast is at 8:30. (Two eggs on an English muffin, daily, for him.) We may converse for a while…

Exhaustion and Transformation

I am wiped. After multiple services on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, I am pretty much gutted. Which is, I think, the genius of it all. Intentionally, Holy Week is an ordeal.  It creates a series of rituals that slowly drain your physical, emotional and spiritual energies. And it’s…

Help Me

Hosanna! It’s the Palm Sunday shout of jubilation, or so I thought. Originally, the word meant something like “Come to our aid!” or simply, “Help us!” The Hebrew priests would chant hosanna on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles, while they circled the altar seven times praying desperately for rain. But as the…

Moving Maggy

Eight boxes. That’s how many they packed for their last move to a new apartment in Manhattan. Thirty boxes. That’s the number for the move three years later. On Saturday, Pam and I helped our daughter and son-in-law, Maggy and Andy, move into their new apartment in New York. After years of renting, they finally…

“What kind of bread is this?”

Giving people communion—as any clergy will tell you—is one of the blessed gifts of ministry. People come to receive the life of God in all of their humanness. They stream to the altar, the hopeful and harried, the world-beaters and the unemployed, the believers and skeptics alike. I walk down the line and here are…