For Kevin

Today would have been my friend Kevin’s 32nd birthday and I wish so badly that I could call him and tell him I’m thinking of him and reminisce about old times together.

I don’t know all the details about why he chose to take his own life this past fall, but I think there must have been despair and there must have been isolation and the very deepest pain.

Kevin was a loyal friend.  He was intelligent and sensitive and thoughtful.  He was compassionate and empathetic.  He was fun and interested in lots of things for their own sake.

I’m tempted to spend the day sitting in my chair and crying and asking why.  I’m tempted to blame myself and every other person in his life for failing him.  I’m tempted to force the things I don’t understand to make sense.

I struggle against these thoughts to remind myself that God’s tender-loving-kindness is greater than anything else.  So instead I’m making chicken stock and crying, and doing dishes and crying, and feeding my cat and crying.


Wow, it’s been a while.  Almost a month.  I’m feeling it, too.  But in the last couple of weeks I haven’t had much time to catch my breath.  I’ll be back soon to tell you about it.

In the meantime, here’s the beginning of this month’s article in PeaceSigns, and a link to the full article:

Several weeks ago the touchscreen on my fancy-pants cell phone suddenly stopped working. Panic-stricken, I rushed to the nearest wireless service provider before going to work. How could I survive the day disconnected? What if my husband needed me? What if there was an emergency? What if the car broke down? What if…?

{Click here to read the rest of the story.}

This is a reflection on Lent that I was asked to give this morning at our church’s Easter sunrise service, and it seemed like maybe I should share it here, too:



I didn’t give up anything for Lent this year and I didn’t adopt any practices to focus my attention.  Honestly, the last year has afforded me plenty of faith-stretching and faith-testing experiences, and I really wasn’t in the mood.

At some point during Lent, I was drawn to reading through all of the lenten lectionary texts.  If this was a conscious decision, I didn’t tell myself.  I didn’t want to “decide” to do something and then fail; I’ve had enough of that, too.

The first reading of Psalm 51 on Ash Wednesday utterly captivated me “in your great tenderness wipe away my offences” (New Jerusalem Bible).  Why should this be so surprising to a life-long, deeply devoted Christian?  Somehow, in my imagination, I had construed Lent as a time of spiritual self-flagellation.  Reading this Psalm, rather than tightening the chains of mortification, began a process of loosing those chains and setting me on a journey to a freedom I have never known before.

On and on, in text after text, the same life-giving refrain was repeated:  where I expected judgment, there was mercy; where I expected criticism, there was loving kindness.  And the more I read, the more I craved reading and experienced in fresh ways the great khesed, or loving kindness, of God.

Given that I spent seven years teaching Bible at a university, I find it sometimes ironic, sometimes sad, and sometimes comical how often I forget and find myself in need of reminding about these things.  The witness of scripture can be especially powerful if one suffers from the same know-it-all syndrome that I do.

I am also reminded that Lent is a journey — an opportunity to create space for the presence of God, within oneself and within the world.  And as it seems that I forget so easily, I’m glad that it is a journey that we have the opportunity to take every year  – for Christ is risen!

The Paper Cup Fiasco

It’s Holy Week, which means Maundy Thursday foot-washings, Good Friday extinguishing of candles, and just before Easter… Earth Day.  I love that Earth Day gets to be in this mix this year, which helps us to think about new life in so many ways.  This is my offering for this month’s issue of PeaceSigns:

Once upon a time (but seriously, this really happened) I stepped out of my office to walk to the corner café for a cup of tea. Then I remembered the mug sitting on my desk that I meant to take with me to save a paper cup. I went back and got the mug and, puffed full of virtuous feelings, headed toward the café.

At that time I had been experiencing a sort of environmental enlightenment and was becoming aware of how so many of my lifestyle choices contribute to the decay of our world. Honestly, there were times when it was quite paralyzing; I agonized over things like flipping on the light switch.

{Click here to read the rest of the story…}


Yesterday I turned my chair toward the window.

And I sat.

And I watched the sun move across the sky.

And I followed the light as it changed through the frame of my window throughout the day.

From glowing back-lit birch leaves to the glare of head-on shining ones.

I watched the silver strand of a web appear and disappear just as quickly.

The breeze itself changed from crisp to cool and soft and sweet.

And I was glad that my body beckoned me to be still and imposed on me a sabbath.

Forgotten Memories

What do you do with a memory that has been forgotten?

I have this rock whose color makes me exclaim “azure!” not just “blue.”

Something about it feels like I found it near the sea.

And do I remember that it is more vivid when it’s wet?

I don’t know why I collected this memory,

And some other unknown thing compels me to keep it.

But once I was somewhere with someone,

And undoubtedly that meant something.

Lessons from My Gato

maybe someday I'll paint it


It’s not that he’s dumb, he’s just, well… a cat.  He wants to do things his own way, in his own time.  If you were to tell him to jump off a bridge because all the other kitties are doing he’d say, “you’re not the boss of me.”


Lately I’ve done a couple of special things for him, thinking they would be things that he would enjoy.  I watch him all the time, so I feel qualified to make that assessment.  He, on the other hand, would beg to differ.


A couple of months ago he was out on the balcony.  He likes to go out there, lay in the sun, sniff around, and lick my bike tires.  Weirdo.  Anyway, I left him unattended out there — after all, he’s not an infant or anything.  Next thing I know, there’s some odd scratching sounds and some unearthly meowing coming from the balcony.  I went out there to find him dangling over the wall, between two posts, but under the top railing.  He was trying to snake his way around one of the posts to get back in, but needed to spend more time doing yoga in order to achieve that.  It didn’t seem to occur to him that he could back up and land on his back legs.  He was particularly panicked because he’d just found out that he was three floors up.  I actually had a hard time pushing him back through the railing because he was clinging to the wall so tightly.  As he scurried back inside, I hadn’t remembered ever seeing his tail quite that bristled.


Not long after that, I assembled some patio chairs that have moved around the country with us and put one right by the wall.  It’s the perfect height for him to sit on and see through the railing, and if he stands up on it and puts his front paws on the wall, he can see a lot more.  And there’s a lot to see.  Besides the backside of a grocery store, there are lots of birds and squirrels.  Hours of entertainment.


But he wouldn’t get up on the chair.  And anytime I picked him up and set him on it, he’d immediately jump down.  It was the longest time before he’d get up there on his own.  “See, Cyrus, I told you it’d be fun.  I did this just for you!”


And then a couple of weeks ago, I built him this way super-cool playhouse.  I found the pattern for it a couple of years ago on Martha’s website, but had never gotten around to making it.  Of course, he wouldn’t go in there.  I tried putting him in through the top, but he’d just slink down to the bottom and dart out the front door.  I tried putting the towel that he sleeps on in there, to give it that homey, lived-in feel.  No dice.  I’ve even tried lining the inside with kitty treats.  But he sticks his head in just far enough and then uses his paw to scoop the treat out of the playhouse before he’ll eat it.  I’ve tried cutting off the doors, because those used to freak him out when they moved.  I’ve made the opening bigger (because he’s a little “husky”).  Alas, all in vain.


This morning I realized that if I ever want him to come to me, all I have to do is get his attention, then hide.  He comes running every time.  He doesn’t realize I’m waiting there for him, just around the corner, ready to scoop him up and love all over him.