Monks in the Orthodox tradition have long believed that God’s love is unchanging, constant, like the light of the sun. We do not need to appease a deity’s anger or perform well to turn the light of God’s affection and gaze upon us. It’s just there, divine mercy blazing away, pouring down all the time.…Read More
Earlier this year during Lent, I visited a Russian Orthodox monastery on an evergreen island out across the water from Seattle. I’d never been there before, but this local pilgrimage felt somehow familiar. After the ferry ride across the chilly waters with seagulls in the air, the drive through the woodsy, misty island on winding…Read More
The gentlemen I’ve been visiting in my local jail for the past decade live a daily existence, I’ve often considered, not unlike monks in the monastery I’ve also visited. They don’t have their wives or girlfriends with them. They all wear the same plain garment—not black robes, but old red scrubs. Their hair often grows…Read More
At first I didn’t know that I was dying. I’d been rushed to the hospital emergency department because I couldn’t breathe, put on oxygen and wheeled right to Intensive Care. The week or so in ICU is a blur now. But ICU must have been where it was discovered that my kidneys were failing—because I…Read More
Jones’ poem “Prodigal” welcomes us into an inviting family scene. We can easily visualize the speaker and his father “watching the children / playing tag on the lawn and running in circles,” and we can feel the immediacy of the “aged father” as he “leans toward me ever so slightly / and out of nowhere…Read More
Ours is a confessional age, a time in which telling all is not only customarily practiced but also routinely lauded. To do less than unbosom oneself in the most candid of ways is both to endanger one’s mental and emotional health (a distinction I’ve never been quite clear on) and to frustrate the kind of…Read More
Under the circumstances, we had given them all we could: our time, our presence, our attention. We visited them in their home. We listened to their stories. We stood in witness. We carry them in memory.
In a brief intersection of radically different lives, we acknowledged one another’s frail humanity. That was our therapy, a word from the Greek, therapon, “one who attends.” As medical professionals, we’d come wanting to do so much more.
Multiple members of my family live with chronic pain, which is why I’m always arrested by writers who don’t let God off the hook for painful experiences, who question suffering more closely. Can we know who is ultimately responsible for suffering? Does suffering have a purpose (and if it does, why does it so often…Read More
“Benedic, anima mea,” I say each night to the mouse that lives behind my desk. I know what the phrase speaks of a soul, but “animal” often has more meaning to me than “soul.” Occasionally I quote Ada Limón’s poem “The Long Ride”: How good it is to love live things, even when what they’ve…Read More