Saturday, February 16, 2013


Do you have to let it linger?
The Cranberries

Three days after Ash Wednesday, there remain on my hands small places where I can still see traces of the ashes from that night. They linger.
The season of Lent is a bit about lingering, about slowing down, about listening intently for God’s voice in the rush and din of our day to day lives, about taking some time away from those lives to listen. Perhaps it is also about being willing to linger with some of our own experiences.
Not long ago, in Stephen Mitchell’s The Gospel According to Jesus I came across Mitchell’s translation of the original version of Rilke’s Tenth Duino Elegy (p. 159). It is about lingering.

How dear you will be to me, then, you nights
of anguish. Why didn’t I kneel more deeply to accept you,
inconsolable sisters, and, surrendering, lose myself
in your loosened hair. How we squander our hours of pain.
How we gaze beyond them into the bitter duration
to see if they have an end. Though they are really
seasons of us, our winter-
enduring foliage, ponds, meadows, our inborn landscape,
where birds and reed-dwelling creatures are at home.

We need not search out difficult experiences nor suppose that God creates difficulty and pain so we can learn from it. Pain and difficulty will come. Joan Chittister puts it simply and well – “no one goes through life unscathed” (Called To Question, 224). What might we learn and how might we grow if we linger with such experiences, even if only for a while?

With Faith and With Feathers,


Saturday, February 2, 2013


Do you ever yearn, George?
Kramer to George, Seinfeld

The other night I was on the treadmill at home, a place I need to be more regularly. While there I watched part of a documentary about Bruce Springsteen and the making of his seminal album, Born To Run. I was captivated by Springsteen’s artistic vision and by the effort and energy that went into trying to put that vision into vinyl. Nearly every word, every phrase, every instrument, every note was pondered then played, then played again. Springsteen sought to put his thoughts and feelings into music, something that I have long admired in his entire body of work. While I appreciate everything he has done, there is something very special about Born To Run.
As I was watching, I also felt again some of those feelings I felt when I first listened to the record in my late teens. The joy, the angst, the longing, the searching, the yearning, that was on that record struck a deep chord in my young man’s soul. “But tonight you’re gonna break on through to the inside/And it’ll be right.” “Cause baby I’m just a scared and lonely rider/But I gotta know how it feels/I want to know if your love is wild/Girl I want to know if love is real. “Tramps like us, baby we were born to run.”
Coming upstairs when my time on the treadmill was over, I saw my daughter getting ready to watch a movie. She is home between her January class and the beginning of spring semester. It was 10:30 p.m. I thought of all the times I watched those late night movies in my own college days. While many movies are just for fun, many are also dream machines, stoking the imagination, feeding a certain yearning for more life – deeper, fuller, richer.
I’m 53, and glad for all the experiences I have had since those days of late night movies, and Born To Run spinning on a turntable (and sitting here typing on my computer I am looking at the vinyl album cover, now darkened around the edges). At the same time I never want to completely lose that part of a young man’s soul that continues to reach for something more, that continues to yearn for deeper thinking and feeling, that longs for a better world.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
Mary Oliver, “When Death Comes”

With Faith and With Feathers,