Long ago, in the quiet of our mothers’ wombs, the snow began to fall. Blood and water and food came into our bodies and nourished us. Endorphins washed over us, along with surges of cortisol and adrenaline. An invisible womb of emotion surrounded us, too, an atmosphere of fear or bitterness or rage. We breathed that air, and the snow fell.
I was standing in the parking lot of our little Valrico, Florida church when a man from the congregation came up to shake my hand. His expression was earnest, his voice impassioned, when he said, “I pray that one day millions of people will hear your voice.” It was an extravagant compliment, and kindly meant, but it was a dangerous thing for a teenager to hear.
Two scenes stand out in memory: one a place of beginning, the other a place of understanding. In the first, a nineteen-year-old girl sits alone in her car on a summer afternoon, while the boy she loved walks away. She is hurting, and the feeling of rejection is intolerable. She is disgusted with herself, so she uses her pain as a catalyst for change—she will finally take control of her health.
Heading south from Salt Lake City, you can drive for hours without seeing anything but rocks and scrub. The road is straight and flat, and the darkening April sky closes down on you like the cover of an old hardback. Read More ›
This summer, the recommended reading list for my church community includes titles like The Rule of Benedict (Chittister), St. Francis of Assisi (Chesterton), and Establishing a Rule of Life (The Trinity Mission). We’re considering what it means to create a personal culture of faith by establishing a “rule” for living. For some, this looks like a detailed list of activities to be done every day, week, month, or year (like those who choose to live under Benedictine or Franciscan rule). For others, though, it’s simply a matter of deciding how we’d like to invest our time and resources and translating that into everyday life.
“Heaven’s kingdom realm can be compared to the tiny mustard seed that a man takes and plants in his field. Although the smallest of all the seeds, it eventually grows into the greatest of garden plants, becoming a tree for birds to come and build their nests in its branches.”
It could have been any sort of day, the day when the seed was planted. I imagine, for I know the sensation, that the seed felt like a splinter grown infected. The heat and tenderness of the spot made it almost intolerable. It had to be removed.
I’m new to the liturgical tradition. Growing up, we thought Episcopalians and Anglicans were people who didn’t have the nerve to call themselves what they were: Catholics. Lent fell neatly into the same category of things I didn’t know much about or care much about. From a distance, it looked like self-flagellation. I wanted no part of it.