Me and contemplative prayer — a love-hate relationship

I begin with this title because it is my truth.  As a spiritual director, I am often asked about contemplative prayer as a practice.  And, if I tell the truth about it, most of my own seeking life, I have danced a couple of different dances with these ideas, contemplation and contemplative prayer.  One dance looks like an angry Tarantella, with contemplation in the role of the spider.  The other dance looks a lot more like the pas de deux from a grand ballet.  In some situations, the idea of what it means to live in contemplation as expressed by teachers or groups has made me feel excluded, an outsider, because…
Read More

Primary questions…

In these past years of living into my call as someone who walks alongside others on their spiritual journey, I’ll admit that I have struggled with the idea of where to begin.  Not where to begin with my training, which is fruitful and ongoing, but about where to begin when someone actually finds you and takes the trouble to come to you and sit in the chair across from you.  Yes, training courses teach you all about conducting an initial interview, creating a working covenant, outlining the ways in which you approach spiritual direction, and so forth, but there always comes that moment when your new friend's face looks at you…
Read More

The light is there, if you look for it…

Sometimes, like today, I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit in awe as the new sun makes itself known in some beautiful setting. I try to take that opportunity when given, because, even though I am by nature an early riser, I often find it difficult to see the sun rise amidst the buildings and the emotional static that comes from living in an urban setting.  Today was one of those days when I took the blessing offered. For me, there is something uniquely mystical about that moment when the light first appears.  This morning, I came out onto the balcony with my tea long before the…
Read More

Love as strong as death…an Ash Wednesday meditation

Yes, it is Ash Wednesday.  And, many of us will find a church somewhere -- our own community or one unfamiliar to us  or a subway station or a street corner -- and take upon ourselves the mark of this day, the simple smear of burned palm leaves and oils that for centuries before has shown the wearer to be a Christian, someone entering the time of fasting and reflection that by our tradition is called Lent. And today, again, depending on where you mark the beginning of this journey, you may hear the words of the prophet Joel, who decries the darkness all around and calls the people to…
Read More

Present…

I am writing to you from an undisclosed location on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Okay, I'll confess -- I've just always wanted to say those words, "from an undisclosed location," because I have seen too many espionage movies and television shows. Truthfully, I am in the final hours of a twenty-four hour personal "retreat", an activity (or non-activity?) with which I have some discomfort.  I have a love-hate relationship with the idea of the contemplative life as portrayed in many of the wonderful books out there; most days I am so palpably aware of the presence of God in every fiber of my being that I can barely function according to…
Read More

Pilgrim in place

No, I have not confused Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I'm referring to another kind of pilgrim. Today is the 12th Day of Christmas for those who observe such things.  I try, but somehow that observance becomes more difficult as the world begins its wind-up called "the new year."  People return to school and work, expectations start to rise, traffic patterns return to their pre-celebration insanity and winter settles in for the next few months of who-knows-what.  And here I sit in one of my favorite landscapes, looking out the window at the sunrise that will not stay long  because of a massive rain storm that is changing my plans for this…
Read More

Subversive Christmas…

I'm a little obsessed with the idea of the 12 Days of Christmas.  It all began last year, when we visited George Washington's Mount Vernon for the Illuminations. You can read some of my thoughts about the true 12 days of Christmas (meaning the days following Dec. 25 and ending at Epiphany on January 6) in this article from the archives.  I haven't changed my thinking much since then, in fact, I am more than ever convinced that the truly subversive act of faith would be to observe these 12 days following our now mostly secular extravaganza known as the Christmas season (since, except for little subversive pockets of people, has…
Read More

Me and contemplative prayer — a love-hate relationship

I begin with this title because it is my truth.  As a spiritual director, I am often asked about contemplative prayer as a practice.  And, if I tell the truth about it, most of my own seeking life, I have danced a couple of different dances with these ideas, contemplation and contemplative prayer.  One dance looks like an angry Tarantella, with contemplation in the role of the spider.  The other dance looks a lot more like the pas de deux from a grand ballet.  In some situations, the idea of what it means to live in contemplation as expressed by teachers or groups has made me feel excluded, an outsider, because…
Read More

Primary questions…

In these past years of living into my call as someone who walks alongside others on their spiritual journey, I’ll admit that I have struggled with the idea of where to begin.  Not where to begin with my training, which is fruitful and ongoing, but about where to begin when someone actually finds you and takes the trouble to come to you and sit in the chair across from you.  Yes, training courses teach you all about conducting an initial interview, creating a working covenant, outlining the ways in which you approach spiritual direction, and so forth, but there always comes that moment when your new friend's face looks at you…
Read More

The light is there, if you look for it…

Sometimes, like today, I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit in awe as the new sun makes itself known in some beautiful setting. I try to take that opportunity when given, because, even though I am by nature an early riser, I often find it difficult to see the sun rise amidst the buildings and the emotional static that comes from living in an urban setting.  Today was one of those days when I took the blessing offered. For me, there is something uniquely mystical about that moment when the light first appears.  This morning, I came out onto the balcony with my tea long before the…
Read More

Love as strong as death…an Ash Wednesday meditation

Yes, it is Ash Wednesday.  And, many of us will find a church somewhere -- our own community or one unfamiliar to us  or a subway station or a street corner -- and take upon ourselves the mark of this day, the simple smear of burned palm leaves and oils that for centuries before has shown the wearer to be a Christian, someone entering the time of fasting and reflection that by our tradition is called Lent. And today, again, depending on where you mark the beginning of this journey, you may hear the words of the prophet Joel, who decries the darkness all around and calls the people to…
Read More

Present…

I am writing to you from an undisclosed location on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Okay, I'll confess -- I've just always wanted to say those words, "from an undisclosed location," because I have seen too many espionage movies and television shows. Truthfully, I am in the final hours of a twenty-four hour personal "retreat", an activity (or non-activity?) with which I have some discomfort.  I have a love-hate relationship with the idea of the contemplative life as portrayed in many of the wonderful books out there; most days I am so palpably aware of the presence of God in every fiber of my being that I can barely function according to…
Read More

Pilgrim in place

No, I have not confused Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I'm referring to another kind of pilgrim. Today is the 12th Day of Christmas for those who observe such things.  I try, but somehow that observance becomes more difficult as the world begins its wind-up called "the new year."  People return to school and work, expectations start to rise, traffic patterns return to their pre-celebration insanity and winter settles in for the next few months of who-knows-what.  And here I sit in one of my favorite landscapes, looking out the window at the sunrise that will not stay long  because of a massive rain storm that is changing my plans for this…
Read More

Subversive Christmas…

I'm a little obsessed with the idea of the 12 Days of Christmas.  It all began last year, when we visited George Washington's Mount Vernon for the Illuminations. You can read some of my thoughts about the true 12 days of Christmas (meaning the days following Dec. 25 and ending at Epiphany on January 6) in this article from the archives.  I haven't changed my thinking much since then, in fact, I am more than ever convinced that the truly subversive act of faith would be to observe these 12 days following our now mostly secular extravaganza known as the Christmas season (since, except for little subversive pockets of people, has…
Read More

Me and contemplative prayer — a love-hate relationship

I begin with this title because it is my truth.  As a spiritual director, I am often asked about contemplative prayer as a practice.  And, if I tell the truth about it, most of my own seeking life, I have danced a couple of different dances with these ideas, contemplation and contemplative prayer.  One dance looks like an angry Tarantella, with contemplation in the role of the spider.  The other dance looks a lot more like the pas de deux from a grand ballet.  In some situations, the idea of what it means to live in contemplation as expressed by teachers or groups has made me feel excluded, an outsider, because…
Read More

Primary questions…

In these past years of living into my call as someone who walks alongside others on their spiritual journey, I’ll admit that I have struggled with the idea of where to begin.  Not where to begin with my training, which is fruitful and ongoing, but about where to begin when someone actually finds you and takes the trouble to come to you and sit in the chair across from you.  Yes, training courses teach you all about conducting an initial interview, creating a working covenant, outlining the ways in which you approach spiritual direction, and so forth, but there always comes that moment when your new friend's face looks at you…
Read More

The light is there, if you look for it…

Sometimes, like today, I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit in awe as the new sun makes itself known in some beautiful setting. I try to take that opportunity when given, because, even though I am by nature an early riser, I often find it difficult to see the sun rise amidst the buildings and the emotional static that comes from living in an urban setting.  Today was one of those days when I took the blessing offered. For me, there is something uniquely mystical about that moment when the light first appears.  This morning, I came out onto the balcony with my tea long before the…
Read More

Love as strong as death…an Ash Wednesday meditation

Yes, it is Ash Wednesday.  And, many of us will find a church somewhere -- our own community or one unfamiliar to us  or a subway station or a street corner -- and take upon ourselves the mark of this day, the simple smear of burned palm leaves and oils that for centuries before has shown the wearer to be a Christian, someone entering the time of fasting and reflection that by our tradition is called Lent. And today, again, depending on where you mark the beginning of this journey, you may hear the words of the prophet Joel, who decries the darkness all around and calls the people to…
Read More

Present…

I am writing to you from an undisclosed location on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Okay, I'll confess -- I've just always wanted to say those words, "from an undisclosed location," because I have seen too many espionage movies and television shows. Truthfully, I am in the final hours of a twenty-four hour personal "retreat", an activity (or non-activity?) with which I have some discomfort.  I have a love-hate relationship with the idea of the contemplative life as portrayed in many of the wonderful books out there; most days I am so palpably aware of the presence of God in every fiber of my being that I can barely function according to…
Read More

Pilgrim in place

No, I have not confused Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I'm referring to another kind of pilgrim. Today is the 12th Day of Christmas for those who observe such things.  I try, but somehow that observance becomes more difficult as the world begins its wind-up called "the new year."  People return to school and work, expectations start to rise, traffic patterns return to their pre-celebration insanity and winter settles in for the next few months of who-knows-what.  And here I sit in one of my favorite landscapes, looking out the window at the sunrise that will not stay long  because of a massive rain storm that is changing my plans for this…
Read More

Subversive Christmas…

I'm a little obsessed with the idea of the 12 Days of Christmas.  It all began last year, when we visited George Washington's Mount Vernon for the Illuminations. You can read some of my thoughts about the true 12 days of Christmas (meaning the days following Dec. 25 and ending at Epiphany on January 6) in this article from the archives.  I haven't changed my thinking much since then, in fact, I am more than ever convinced that the truly subversive act of faith would be to observe these 12 days following our now mostly secular extravaganza known as the Christmas season (since, except for little subversive pockets of people, has…
Read More

Me and contemplative prayer — a love-hate relationship

I begin with this title because it is my truth.  As a spiritual director, I am often asked about contemplative prayer as a practice.  And, if I tell the truth about it, most of my own seeking life, I have danced a couple of different dances with these ideas, contemplation and contemplative prayer.  One dance looks like an angry Tarantella, with contemplation in the role of the spider.  The other dance looks a lot more like the pas de deux from a grand ballet.  In some situations, the idea of what it means to live in contemplation as expressed by teachers or groups has made me feel excluded, an outsider, because…
Read More

Primary questions…

In these past years of living into my call as someone who walks alongside others on their spiritual journey, I’ll admit that I have struggled with the idea of where to begin.  Not where to begin with my training, which is fruitful and ongoing, but about where to begin when someone actually finds you and takes the trouble to come to you and sit in the chair across from you.  Yes, training courses teach you all about conducting an initial interview, creating a working covenant, outlining the ways in which you approach spiritual direction, and so forth, but there always comes that moment when your new friend's face looks at you…
Read More

The light is there, if you look for it…

Sometimes, like today, I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit in awe as the new sun makes itself known in some beautiful setting. I try to take that opportunity when given, because, even though I am by nature an early riser, I often find it difficult to see the sun rise amidst the buildings and the emotional static that comes from living in an urban setting.  Today was one of those days when I took the blessing offered. For me, there is something uniquely mystical about that moment when the light first appears.  This morning, I came out onto the balcony with my tea long before the…
Read More

Love as strong as death…an Ash Wednesday meditation

Yes, it is Ash Wednesday.  And, many of us will find a church somewhere -- our own community or one unfamiliar to us  or a subway station or a street corner -- and take upon ourselves the mark of this day, the simple smear of burned palm leaves and oils that for centuries before has shown the wearer to be a Christian, someone entering the time of fasting and reflection that by our tradition is called Lent. And today, again, depending on where you mark the beginning of this journey, you may hear the words of the prophet Joel, who decries the darkness all around and calls the people to…
Read More

Present…

I am writing to you from an undisclosed location on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Okay, I'll confess -- I've just always wanted to say those words, "from an undisclosed location," because I have seen too many espionage movies and television shows. Truthfully, I am in the final hours of a twenty-four hour personal "retreat", an activity (or non-activity?) with which I have some discomfort.  I have a love-hate relationship with the idea of the contemplative life as portrayed in many of the wonderful books out there; most days I am so palpably aware of the presence of God in every fiber of my being that I can barely function according to…
Read More

Pilgrim in place

No, I have not confused Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I'm referring to another kind of pilgrim. Today is the 12th Day of Christmas for those who observe such things.  I try, but somehow that observance becomes more difficult as the world begins its wind-up called "the new year."  People return to school and work, expectations start to rise, traffic patterns return to their pre-celebration insanity and winter settles in for the next few months of who-knows-what.  And here I sit in one of my favorite landscapes, looking out the window at the sunrise that will not stay long  because of a massive rain storm that is changing my plans for this…
Read More

Subversive Christmas…

I'm a little obsessed with the idea of the 12 Days of Christmas.  It all began last year, when we visited George Washington's Mount Vernon for the Illuminations. You can read some of my thoughts about the true 12 days of Christmas (meaning the days following Dec. 25 and ending at Epiphany on January 6) in this article from the archives.  I haven't changed my thinking much since then, in fact, I am more than ever convinced that the truly subversive act of faith would be to observe these 12 days following our now mostly secular extravaganza known as the Christmas season (since, except for little subversive pockets of people, has…
Read More

Me and contemplative prayer — a love-hate relationship

I begin with this title because it is my truth.  As a spiritual director, I am often asked about contemplative prayer as a practice.  And, if I tell the truth about it, most of my own seeking life, I have danced a couple of different dances with these ideas, contemplation and contemplative prayer.  One dance looks like an angry Tarantella, with contemplation in the role of the spider.  The other dance looks a lot more like the pas de deux from a grand ballet.  In some situations, the idea of what it means to live in contemplation as expressed by teachers or groups has made me feel excluded, an outsider, because…
Read More

Primary questions…

In these past years of living into my call as someone who walks alongside others on their spiritual journey, I’ll admit that I have struggled with the idea of where to begin.  Not where to begin with my training, which is fruitful and ongoing, but about where to begin when someone actually finds you and takes the trouble to come to you and sit in the chair across from you.  Yes, training courses teach you all about conducting an initial interview, creating a working covenant, outlining the ways in which you approach spiritual direction, and so forth, but there always comes that moment when your new friend's face looks at you…
Read More

The light is there, if you look for it…

Sometimes, like today, I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit in awe as the new sun makes itself known in some beautiful setting. I try to take that opportunity when given, because, even though I am by nature an early riser, I often find it difficult to see the sun rise amidst the buildings and the emotional static that comes from living in an urban setting.  Today was one of those days when I took the blessing offered. For me, there is something uniquely mystical about that moment when the light first appears.  This morning, I came out onto the balcony with my tea long before the…
Read More

Love as strong as death…an Ash Wednesday meditation

Yes, it is Ash Wednesday.  And, many of us will find a church somewhere -- our own community or one unfamiliar to us  or a subway station or a street corner -- and take upon ourselves the mark of this day, the simple smear of burned palm leaves and oils that for centuries before has shown the wearer to be a Christian, someone entering the time of fasting and reflection that by our tradition is called Lent. And today, again, depending on where you mark the beginning of this journey, you may hear the words of the prophet Joel, who decries the darkness all around and calls the people to…
Read More

Present…

I am writing to you from an undisclosed location on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Okay, I'll confess -- I've just always wanted to say those words, "from an undisclosed location," because I have seen too many espionage movies and television shows. Truthfully, I am in the final hours of a twenty-four hour personal "retreat", an activity (or non-activity?) with which I have some discomfort.  I have a love-hate relationship with the idea of the contemplative life as portrayed in many of the wonderful books out there; most days I am so palpably aware of the presence of God in every fiber of my being that I can barely function according to…
Read More

Pilgrim in place

No, I have not confused Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I'm referring to another kind of pilgrim. Today is the 12th Day of Christmas for those who observe such things.  I try, but somehow that observance becomes more difficult as the world begins its wind-up called "the new year."  People return to school and work, expectations start to rise, traffic patterns return to their pre-celebration insanity and winter settles in for the next few months of who-knows-what.  And here I sit in one of my favorite landscapes, looking out the window at the sunrise that will not stay long  because of a massive rain storm that is changing my plans for this…
Read More

Subversive Christmas…

I'm a little obsessed with the idea of the 12 Days of Christmas.  It all began last year, when we visited George Washington's Mount Vernon for the Illuminations. You can read some of my thoughts about the true 12 days of Christmas (meaning the days following Dec. 25 and ending at Epiphany on January 6) in this article from the archives.  I haven't changed my thinking much since then, in fact, I am more than ever convinced that the truly subversive act of faith would be to observe these 12 days following our now mostly secular extravaganza known as the Christmas season (since, except for little subversive pockets of people, has…
Read More

Me and contemplative prayer — a love-hate relationship

I begin with this title because it is my truth.  As a spiritual director, I am often asked about contemplative prayer as a practice.  And, if I tell the truth about it, most of my own seeking life, I have danced a couple of different dances with these ideas, contemplation and contemplative prayer.  One dance looks like an angry Tarantella, with contemplation in the role of the spider.  The other dance looks a lot more like the pas de deux from a grand ballet.  In some situations, the idea of what it means to live in contemplation as expressed by teachers or groups has made me feel excluded, an outsider, because…
Read More

Primary questions…

In these past years of living into my call as someone who walks alongside others on their spiritual journey, I’ll admit that I have struggled with the idea of where to begin.  Not where to begin with my training, which is fruitful and ongoing, but about where to begin when someone actually finds you and takes the trouble to come to you and sit in the chair across from you.  Yes, training courses teach you all about conducting an initial interview, creating a working covenant, outlining the ways in which you approach spiritual direction, and so forth, but there always comes that moment when your new friend's face looks at you…
Read More

The light is there, if you look for it…

Sometimes, like today, I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit in awe as the new sun makes itself known in some beautiful setting. I try to take that opportunity when given, because, even though I am by nature an early riser, I often find it difficult to see the sun rise amidst the buildings and the emotional static that comes from living in an urban setting.  Today was one of those days when I took the blessing offered. For me, there is something uniquely mystical about that moment when the light first appears.  This morning, I came out onto the balcony with my tea long before the…
Read More

Love as strong as death…an Ash Wednesday meditation

Yes, it is Ash Wednesday.  And, many of us will find a church somewhere -- our own community or one unfamiliar to us  or a subway station or a street corner -- and take upon ourselves the mark of this day, the simple smear of burned palm leaves and oils that for centuries before has shown the wearer to be a Christian, someone entering the time of fasting and reflection that by our tradition is called Lent. And today, again, depending on where you mark the beginning of this journey, you may hear the words of the prophet Joel, who decries the darkness all around and calls the people to…
Read More

Present…

I am writing to you from an undisclosed location on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Okay, I'll confess -- I've just always wanted to say those words, "from an undisclosed location," because I have seen too many espionage movies and television shows. Truthfully, I am in the final hours of a twenty-four hour personal "retreat", an activity (or non-activity?) with which I have some discomfort.  I have a love-hate relationship with the idea of the contemplative life as portrayed in many of the wonderful books out there; most days I am so palpably aware of the presence of God in every fiber of my being that I can barely function according to…
Read More

Pilgrim in place

No, I have not confused Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I'm referring to another kind of pilgrim. Today is the 12th Day of Christmas for those who observe such things.  I try, but somehow that observance becomes more difficult as the world begins its wind-up called "the new year."  People return to school and work, expectations start to rise, traffic patterns return to their pre-celebration insanity and winter settles in for the next few months of who-knows-what.  And here I sit in one of my favorite landscapes, looking out the window at the sunrise that will not stay long  because of a massive rain storm that is changing my plans for this…
Read More

Subversive Christmas…

I'm a little obsessed with the idea of the 12 Days of Christmas.  It all began last year, when we visited George Washington's Mount Vernon for the Illuminations. You can read some of my thoughts about the true 12 days of Christmas (meaning the days following Dec. 25 and ending at Epiphany on January 6) in this article from the archives.  I haven't changed my thinking much since then, in fact, I am more than ever convinced that the truly subversive act of faith would be to observe these 12 days following our now mostly secular extravaganza known as the Christmas season (since, except for little subversive pockets of people, has…
Read More

Me and contemplative prayer — a love-hate relationship

I begin with this title because it is my truth.  As a spiritual director, I am often asked about contemplative prayer as a practice.  And, if I tell the truth about it, most of my own seeking life, I have danced a couple of different dances with these ideas, contemplation and contemplative prayer.  One dance looks like an angry Tarantella, with contemplation in the role of the spider.  The other dance looks a lot more like the pas de deux from a grand ballet.  In some situations, the idea of what it means to live in contemplation as expressed by teachers or groups has made me feel excluded, an outsider, because…
Read More

Primary questions…

In these past years of living into my call as someone who walks alongside others on their spiritual journey, I’ll admit that I have struggled with the idea of where to begin.  Not where to begin with my training, which is fruitful and ongoing, but about where to begin when someone actually finds you and takes the trouble to come to you and sit in the chair across from you.  Yes, training courses teach you all about conducting an initial interview, creating a working covenant, outlining the ways in which you approach spiritual direction, and so forth, but there always comes that moment when your new friend's face looks at you…
Read More

The light is there, if you look for it…

Sometimes, like today, I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit in awe as the new sun makes itself known in some beautiful setting. I try to take that opportunity when given, because, even though I am by nature an early riser, I often find it difficult to see the sun rise amidst the buildings and the emotional static that comes from living in an urban setting.  Today was one of those days when I took the blessing offered. For me, there is something uniquely mystical about that moment when the light first appears.  This morning, I came out onto the balcony with my tea long before the…
Read More

Love as strong as death…an Ash Wednesday meditation

Yes, it is Ash Wednesday.  And, many of us will find a church somewhere -- our own community or one unfamiliar to us  or a subway station or a street corner -- and take upon ourselves the mark of this day, the simple smear of burned palm leaves and oils that for centuries before has shown the wearer to be a Christian, someone entering the time of fasting and reflection that by our tradition is called Lent. And today, again, depending on where you mark the beginning of this journey, you may hear the words of the prophet Joel, who decries the darkness all around and calls the people to…
Read More

Present…

I am writing to you from an undisclosed location on Maryland's Eastern Shore.  Okay, I'll confess -- I've just always wanted to say those words, "from an undisclosed location," because I have seen too many espionage movies and television shows. Truthfully, I am in the final hours of a twenty-four hour personal "retreat", an activity (or non-activity?) with which I have some discomfort.  I have a love-hate relationship with the idea of the contemplative life as portrayed in many of the wonderful books out there; most days I am so palpably aware of the presence of God in every fiber of my being that I can barely function according to…
Read More

Pilgrim in place

No, I have not confused Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I'm referring to another kind of pilgrim. Today is the 12th Day of Christmas for those who observe such things.  I try, but somehow that observance becomes more difficult as the world begins its wind-up called "the new year."  People return to school and work, expectations start to rise, traffic patterns return to their pre-celebration insanity and winter settles in for the next few months of who-knows-what.  And here I sit in one of my favorite landscapes, looking out the window at the sunrise that will not stay long  because of a massive rain storm that is changing my plans for this…
Read More

Subversive Christmas…

I'm a little obsessed with the idea of the 12 Days of Christmas.  It all began last year, when we visited George Washington's Mount Vernon for the Illuminations. You can read some of my thoughts about the true 12 days of Christmas (meaning the days following Dec. 25 and ending at Epiphany on January 6) in this article from the archives.  I haven't changed my thinking much since then, in fact, I am more than ever convinced that the truly subversive act of faith would be to observe these 12 days following our now mostly secular extravaganza known as the Christmas season (since, except for little subversive pockets of people, has…
Read More