What Matters is Who We’re Becoming

“Didn’t you used to be Guy Sayles?” That’s what a fellow asked as I waited behind him in the checkout line at Ingles.  When he realized what he’d said, he flushed red and apologized: “I’m so sorry.  I meant, ‘Aren’t you Guy Sayles and didn’t you used to be pastor at...

This Moment, this Breath, this Wonder

“Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.” That incisive quip come from Peter DeVries’ novel The Tent of Wickedness. I know something about nostalgia. After all, I’ve spent a lot of time in churches, and they’re hothouses of it: rosy nostalgia for the days when the pews...

The Weather of the Heart

I’ve spent the last couple of days in Hot Springs. I doubt that many people imagine that the portal to heaven looks like this tiny town in the mountains of Western North Carolina, but I do.  It’s nestled on the French Broad River which is my personal Jordan. Wading in...

Under the Mercy, Rest in the Mercy

When I’m keenly and viscerally aware of brokenness, as I am these days, I remember a powerful and restoring experience I had several years ago at Mariandale a Catholic retreat center nestled against the Hudson River, about an hour north of NYC. I had gone there...

The Wilderness of In-Between

Like many others, I’m living in-between. For four and a half years, I’ve held what Susan Sontag called “dual citizenship” in the kingdoms of the sick and of the well. I shuttle between the limits of illness and the opportunities of ongoing life. I anxiously hold my...

Be Here, Now

An elderly woman recently spent a long night in the Emergency Department. Lack of oxygen, related to congestive heart failure and COPD, made her disoriented and unsettled. Because her medical caregivers needed to know the extent of her confusion, they repeatedly asked...

Using the Bible to Contradict Jesus

No, Attorney General Sessions, you may not use Paul’s words in Romans 13:1 to justify the heinous separation of children from their parents. That text was abused by church officials who ordered the brutal Crusades against Muslims, by southern preachers who sought to...

Continuity and Discontinuity

In Peripheral Visions, cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson said that, when we take-stock of our lives, we can focus either on continuity or discontinuity: “’Everything I have ever done has been heading me for where I am today’ is one version of the truth,...

Life from the Center

Recently, I confessed—again—that there are times when I’m more intimidated by the world’s problems, the church’s challenges, and my own “stuff,” than I’m confident in the presence and power of God. When the heat is on and the pressure is high, hope evaporates and joy...