Author Archive

life is short

May 16, 2023 2 comments

I have a good friend who lost her mate back in January. Rex had been sick for a long time with a lot of physical battles, but the guy remained thankful and pleasant throughout the whole ordeal. The guy was one of a kind. A brilliant man, well read, informed, industrious, gracious, generous, and always thinking about the next project. He cared about a lot of things that most of us take for granted. His passion to help, to feed the poor, was straight from the divine realm. He really invested and did what he could. I think he was simply unique in that ministry of heart, and I admired him greatly for it. I got pulled a couple of times into his passion to feed the poor. The guy was a tiger when he fixated on a goal. A “man on mission” is a gross understatement. I miss him already.

I dropped in to visit with him one day in January. Early, the very next morning, his wife texted me that Rex had passed in the wee hours of the new day. He was ready to go. It had gotten to the point when I’d ask him how he was doing, the standard response was, “shitty.” Then he’d grin and tell me how blessed he was, always noting how his wife of 61 years was taking care of him, serving him, keeping up the place, and himself. That visit was no different, except that he told me that he was ready to go home. Another project he was figuring, but there was always another project he was figuring.

A couple of weeks later, I dropped by to see Sally. It’s one of those relationships that I know I’m better for. She’s taught me a lot as she’s still transitioning into more truth and the mystery of unknowing. Senior adults who don’t have answers for everything are smooth as silk. I welcome any opportunity I get to be with them when they’re on that kind of contemplative path. Even amid so much pain and grief, she is teaching from the deeper realms of peace and contentment. It’s not that common. You notice it, and you feel it, when you’re around it.

I really wanted to know how she was doing, and she spilled her truth as I knew she would. “It’s the void. It’s the empty space that you can’t really ever prepare for.” Another perspective on grief. Another teaching of life’s reality. It chilled me when she said it because I know how often I manage my own need and desire for quiet. The optimal word there is “manage,” as though I have options. She’s learning how to be quiet within the cloud of quiet. And while it appears she’s adjusting to that level of quiet, it’s another realm of quiet she hasn’t known before, and it’s not going away. It’s not a temporary quiet. It’s a lasting quiet.  The air has changed. The space—the void—has overgrown everything in her life. She’s on a journey. She’ll adapt and she’ll be more than okay, just like millions of others have in their own journeys with grief. She’s tough like that.

After serving me snacks and drinks, she handed me an article entitled “Life is Short,” that she had photocopied from a magazine. “We don’t realize how much we abuse time and waste life,” she said. “Read it! It’s hilarious!”

I’ve been waiting for the right time to post it. The article is snarky, witty, and all too true. It definitely struck a few nerves. I’m passing it on because life IS short. I know it more every day.

Much love (way beyond knuckle love),



by Cora Frazer

Life is short. Why not spend it mired in regret? Why not spend your evenings sitting side by side at the dining room table with your spouse, trying to determine whether your downstairs neighbors’ ceiling fan is making the floor tremble?

Our existence on this planet is statistically insignificant when compared with the history of the universe. So take advantage of it! Charge your spouse six dollars and fifty cents on Venmo for “supplemental groceries.”

You get to choose the life you live. And, every minute, you have the opportunity to make a different choice. Every minute, you could say, “Today, I will eat defrosted turnip soup and think about the time I felt left out at my friend’s wedding.”

What you really want to do right now is call an office-supply store’s customer-service number. So why not do that? What’s holding you back? Who would you be if you stopped limiting yourself and really let yourself experience the hold music, interrupted every twenty-three seconds with “All representatives are currently assisting other callers”?

The next time you find yourself adding up items in your “worst-case scenario” budget, close your eyes and really feel your fingers on the laptop keyboard with its “N” partly worn off. Sense the gentle thrum of panic in your chest and hear the patter of the drill in the street beyond. Open your eyes and subtract another thousand. Why? Because you, my friend, deserve it.

True, you could dedicate your time on earth to your relationships and the work and hobbies that give you a sense of purpose. Or you could dedicate your time to washing used Ziplock bags and turning them inside out on drying racks to dry.

Someone’s got to read every single tweet written by peers who have achieved success in industries that you were never interested in, so why not you? Give yourself permission to take screenshots of other people’s life joy and text the images to acquaintances with the caption “LOL.”

There are only twenty-four hours in a day, so why not say “F-it” and fully embrace all the sublimity of your scarcity mind-set? Why not return seventy per cent of what you buy out of fear that you’ll never be able to retire? You do you! You walk into that retailer and request a refund outside of the return window like the transcendent being you truly are!

You are a gorgeous human with unlimited potential to eat week-old hard-boiled eggs, and the only person who’s holding you back from checking eighteen times to see if the stove is off is you.

Every moment that you’re not sitting double-parked in your Honda Civic, protecting your spot during street cleaning, is a moment wasted. Every moment that you’re bounding through autumn leaves with your rescue puppy is a moment that you could be writing a negative review of a printer you broke. Every moment that you’re meditating is a moment that you could be thinking of comebacks to the student who called your class “lower level.” This very afternoon, you could stroll down the street as you talk to your friend on the phone, listening to each of his words, or you could put yourself on mute and clean the toilet.

Your heart’s truest desire is to refuse to rejoin the family thread because you can’t handle your grandmother anymore. Of course, there’s the voice in your head telling you that you “should” forgive her for suggesting that you brush your hair more often. But forget “shoulds”! Focus on reading marketing e-mails instead, out of a sense of guilt! Because you have a unique and beautiful simmering rage inside you, and no one else can harbor it for you.

And, if you do enjoy your time working in public defense, or knitting, or cooking recipes from around the world, or reading out loud to your spouse, well . . . honestly, that seems like something you should examine.

And, whenever you decide that you want to live your life in all its exquisite smallness, we’ll be here for you with our arms firmly at our sides.

“Shouts & Murmurs,” New Yorker Magazine, January 23, 2023



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are we sure we love christ?

March 15, 2023 6 comments

A man shocked me one day when he said, “You Christians don’t love Christ. You hate Christ. You hate what Christ stands for.” He continued, “You cover up your own hatred and fear of Christ by talking about how much you love Jesus. But, if you love Jesus, why don’t you love your enemies? If you love Jesus, why don’t you really obey the gospel, most of which you ignore?”

I heard those words and I trembled inside, thinking, My God, is that true of me? Brothers and sisters, just open Mark’s Gospel. Most of us haven’t paid attention to 90 percent of it. Most of the passages are just conveniently ignored by the institutional church and by ourselves. In fact, we often do the exact opposite of what Jesus teaches about, as if a bigger lie is easier to cover up. Christians and their bishops have been condoning and participating in war, greed and false security for centuries, while calling themselves the Body of Christ, or even “The Magisterium” (read authorized institutional spiritual authority). Matthew 23 would seemingly make us unwilling to wear a long robe or tassels ever again! Strange, isn’t it?

When was the last time you heard of someone being thrown out of the church for not rejoicing and exalting Him when confronted with criticism? (Matthew 5:11-13). Why don’t we make that a matter for excommunication? The thought never entered our minds.

From Richard Rohr, “Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction”

The original title of Rohr’s selection was “Do We Love Christ?” I decided it had been incorrectly titled. “Do We Love Christ?” is answerable without much thought. Most of us nod our heads, and move on without even reading the material. So, for today’s devotional, I took liberty of changing it. If you are still reading, I guess it somewhat worked.

Are we sure we love the Christ? The universal-cosmic presence of God in all of heaven and earth? It takes a certain amount of expansion in consciousness and spiritual awareness to grasp that. Having “eyes to see” isn’t a foregone conclusion. Just because I read and study my Bible, because I go to church, and because I pay my tithes, doesn’t necessarily mean I have “eyes to see or ears to hear” what the Spirit of all truth is laying down. There is so much uncomfortable value in Rohr’s words. I think he’s saying that loving Jesus, believing in Jesus, praising Jesus, is all good. But, those are not the all-encompassing main events. All of that can be done out of a spirit of religious pretense. It’s in FOLLOWING Jesus where the shift to the Christ consciousness begins to happen.

In fact, we often do the exact opposite of what Jesus teaches about, as if a bigger lie is easier to cover up. —Rohr

Quite a bit of the Church has settled for a precise and “certain” theological understanding that has all of the answers to its own selective questions. “Christ” isn’t Jesus’s last name. Though Christ does incorporate the works and words of Jesus, the pre and post resurrection reality of the Christ is all inclusive and encompasses all. The Christ is mind-boggling reality of infinitesimal Presence, and you and I are a part of that presence, whether we’re cooperating and in sync, or not. That is precisely the point Rohr is making. The way we participate (dare I say, “properly”), is to really follow (walk out, live out) the Way of Jesus. Can we honestly say we’re doing that? Or are we more concerned with “legalistic posturing” in order to justify our behavior and intent? Do we manipulate scripture and allow fear, unhealed wounds, things we hate, things we love, things we profit from, politics, and even church leadership to dictate our focus?

I’m not sure I know how it happened, but I ended up plowing a lot deeper here than I originally intended. So, to gear it down to something more manageable, I just wonder if we’d all be wider-awake in kingdom reality if we were more practically engaged. Can we hold ourselves and one another accountable to living Jesus’ values, character qualities, and ways of dealing with other humans who are not always living their best selves? That, in and of itself, should expand and immerse us in the genuine love of Christ.




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silence and ash

February 22, 2023 4 comments

Ash Wednesday. How is it already Ash Wednesday? Some of us are still picking the pine needles out of the carpet from Christmas!

The transition into the Lenten season is a wonderful thing. One of my favorite devotional writers (Bishop Rueben P. Job) offers these significant thoughts: “The Season of Lent is like a roller coaster ride with emotions that are up and down and up again and again . . . A season that begins with ashes pressed upon our heads ends with the fragrance, sight, and touch of flowers racing through our senses and inviting us to join the triumphant song “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today!” . . . Now we know as never before that our mortality will put on immortality . . . Death and resurrection are now claimed as our own . . . Fear has given way to inexpressible joy, and doubt has given way to triumphant hope. Christ is risen!”

Ash Wednesday is where we begin the Lenten season, with our face pressed hard against the reality of our gaps, shortcomings, and ultimately our looming deaths on this orb. Everything here has a shelf-life. BUT we do know how the story ends. Bishop Job adds again, “In the middle of austerity and fasting we remember our faithful Savior and the Easter declaration that life is always victorious over death, always!”

With all that said, part of the traditional discipline of Lent is fasting of some sort. I’m always fascinated to hear what people decide and declare to “give up” during Lent. Of course, this is a heart thing, and some are strictly committed to their 40-ish days of fasting. What I’m offering below is something that I’ve never really considered as a possibility for a Lenten fast, but wow… do I ever see the need as a delicious gift to ourselves and others.

One more thought and then I’ll let you get on with your day. Remember… your Lenten fast doesn’t just have to be about subtraction.  It could be about adding something to your regiment or routine that adds value to something or someone. That might actually be more helpful in the long run.

Onward my brothers and sisters! Much love and peace. —MDP

Richard J. Foster (Freedom of Simplicity) writes: The Desert Fathers renounced speech in order to learn compassion. A charming story is told of Abbott Macarius, who said to the brethren at the Church of Scete, “Brethren, flee.” Perplexed, one of the brothers asked, “How can we fly further than this, seeing we are here in the desert?” Macarius placed his finger to his mouth and said, “Flee from this.” When Arsenius, the Roman educator who gave up his status and wealth for the solitude of the desert, prayed, “Lord, lead me into the way of salvation,” he heard a voice saying, “Be silent.”

Silence frees us from the need to control others. One reason we can hardly bear to remain silent is that it makes us feel so helpless. We are accustomed to relying upon words to manage and control others. A frantic stream of words flows from us in an attempt to straighten others out. We want so desperately for them to agree with us, to see things our way. We evaluate people, judge people, condemn people. We devour people with our words. Silence is one of the deepest Disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on that.


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toxic images

January 25, 2023 Leave a comment

If we want to go to the mature, mystical, and non-dual levels of spirituality, we must first deal with the often faulty, inadequate, and even toxic images of God that most people are dealing with before they have authentic God experience. Both God as Trinity and Jesus as the image of the invisible God reveal a God quite different—and much better—than the Santa Claus god who is “making a list, checking it twice, who’s going to find out who’s naughty or nice” or an “I will torture you if you do not love me” god (worse than your worst enemy, I would think). We must be honest and admit that these are the versions of “god” that most people are still praying to. Such images are an unworkable basis for any real spirituality.

Trinity reveals that God is the Divine Flow under, around, and through all things—much more a verb than a noun, relationship itself rather than an old man sitting on a throne. Jesus tells us that God is like a loving parent who runs toward us while we are “still a longways off” (Luke 15:20), then clasps and kisses us. Until this is personally experienced, most of Christianity does not work. This theme moves us quickly into practice-based religion (orthopraxy) over mere word and ideas (orthodoxy).

—From YES, AND…, pp. 65-67

“If we want to go to the mature, mystical, and non-dual levels of spirituality, we must first deal with the often faulty, inadequate, and even toxic images of God that most people are dealing with before they have authentic God experience.”

Regardless, if we want to grow up in our spirituality or not, our image of God “makes us.” In other words, how we see God “affects” and “infects” how we live. The entire notion of a “Christian witness” is null and void if it is not a true representation of the nature, character, and loving responses of God [see the life of Jesus: Colossians 1:15]. We need the Spirit’s discernment to see this. We need the Spirit’s influence to bolster and shape our will to reflect God’s true image. Some of what we see in God’s people is anti-Christ. People who are looking for reasons to throw rocks at the Christian mission and message have no trouble finding targets because of our blatant hypocrisy.

I recently watched a short video where the commentators were discussing the fallout and steady decline of church attendance within our culture. The “good-old-days” are long gone, and modern culture (particularly millennials) are “checked-out” and mostly dismissive of traditional worship settings across the board (not always, but mostly). The simple reason for this isn’t about logistics or their “other” interest. The explanation had everything to do with the incongruence of Gospel evidence regarding how Jesus lived, loved, and preferred others—in comparison to the normal inconsistency of “identifying Christians” who look, act, think about, or relate toward others nothing like Jesus would. In other words—there is a massive disparity between the love of Jesus—and how “Church” people respond to the real-time events and people around them in their daily lives. That’s a brutally painful thing to hear, but we need to hear it and be motivated to re-evaluate and live better. This thing about “following” Jesus isn’t satisfied just by our attending church or religious functions. —MDP



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the shift towards passion

January 11, 2023 Leave a comment

And just like that we are on our annual slide towards the cross and the empty tomb. Advent was full of so much expectation, and now we can look with eyes wide open at the great revealing of God on mission with what and who God loves. Honestly, this reading might be better served during Lent, but it seems right to jump start the meditations earlier than normal. I would ask you to “read,” and attempt to “see” what this reading really offers and invites us to know. Not everyone will… nor will everyone even try… but you might IF you’ll consider the revelation with more than a casual glance.

Every liturgical season is another opportunity to see (maybe) what we’ve never been able to see. To look longer and more intently into the depths of what (maybe) we’ve never been able to comprehend. That’s usually my approach anyways, and I pray that you heart is stirred all over again at the gloriously horrible, and the mysteriously beautiful, journey of the Passion of our Christ!

Dying, Christ destroyed our death.

Rising, Christ restored our life.

Christ will come again in glory. AMEN.

As always… much love,


The supreme irony of the whole crucifixion scene is this: he who was everything had everything taken away from him. He who was seemingly perfect (Hebrews 1:3; 5:9) was totally misjudged as sin itself (Romans 8:3-4). How can we be that mistaken? The crucified Jesus forever reveals to us how wrong both religious and political authorities can be, and how utterly wrong we can all be—about who is in the right and who is sinful (John 16:8). The crowd, who represents us all, chooses Barabbas, a common thief, over Jesus. That is how much we can misperceive, misjudge, and be mistaken.

Jesus hung in total solidarity with the pain of the world and the far too many lives on this planet that have been “nasty, lonely, brutish, and short.” After the cross, we know that God is not watching human pain, nor apparently always stopping human pain, as much as God is found hanging with us alongside all human pain. Jesus’s ministry of healing and death, of solidarity with the crucified of history, forever tells us that God is found wherever the pain is. This leaves God on both sides of every war, in sympathy with both the pain of the perpetrator and the pain of the victim, with the excluded, the tortured, the abandoned, and the oppressed since the beginning of time. I wonder if we even like that? There are no games of moral superiority left for us now. Yet this is exactly the kind of Lover and the universal Love that humanity needs.

This is exactly how Jesus “redeemed the world by the blood of the cross.” It was not some kind of heavenly transaction, or paying the price to an offended God, as much as a cosmic communion with all that humanity has ever loved and ever suffered. If Jesus was paying any price, it was to the hard and resistant defenses around our hearts and bodies. God has loved us from all eternity.

—From Richard Rohr, “YES, AND…” pp. 79-80

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no longer dismayed

December 13, 2022 Leave a comment

The Christmas contemplative knows that hope is a gift, an undeserved gift of peace, but that is also a call to decision—the decision to trust…

Hope thrives on the difficulty and challenges the conclusion that our only contribution to the world will be, in the words of T.S. Eliot, “an asphalt driveway in front of our home and a thousand lost golf balls.” Hope convinces us that in clinging to our miserable sense of security and status quo, the possibility of growth and greatness is utterly defeated. Hope says that I no longer need to be dismayed over my personal dishonesty and self-centeredness and feeble life of faith. That I no longer need to feel defeated, insensitive, and superficial.

Because the question no longer is: Can I do it? Am I able? Can I overcome my moodiness, my laziness, my sensuality, my grudges and resentments? The only question is: Is Jesus the Christ able? Can my Savior, the Lord of my life, revive my drooping spirit and transform me at Christmas as he transformed the world through his birth at Bethlehem?

—From Reflections for Ragamuffins by Brennan Manning

“The only question is: Is Jesus the Christ able?”


In another Advent reading this morning, I was reminded that we Americans suffer with a lot of self-hate. The author went on to explain that we’ve set ourselves up for all kinds of self-disappointment because we’ve got the wrong agenda… the wrong influencers… and we’re so damn competitive. Another suggestion was that we’re too cozy with the whims of image makers who found a little success in their niche, and somehow… magically… by our swallowing all they promote and spin… the same is guaranteed for us. We are that gullible, and it appears we are starving for validation, recognition, and significance. Here’s the quote that kinda tipped me over:


“Competition is simply our name for domination. Whenever you create a society that has to define itself by power and success, there will have to be those who are powerless and the non-successful. And that’s the vast majority of the people in our society. People in our society are set up to lose.”—Rohr


I’ve never really thought a lot about the HOPE inside Advent, but man oh man… do we ever need HOPE!  Manning’s words set us on the right rails.  It all leads to the question: IS JESUS ABLE? That’s where the living waters reside.  That is what quenches and extinguishes the raging fires of self-hate and dissatisfaction with ourselves. We no longer have to be dismayed OR found groping for another affirmation of our value. So, Yes! Our God is able. Yes! That’s our real HOPE. Yes, say it again: Jesus is able. Amen.

Have a blessed Christmas! Much joy, love, peace, and hope! —MDP



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a love so prodigal

November 30, 2022 6 comments

Christmas is the promise that the God who came in history and comes daily in mystery will one day come in glory. God is saying in Jesus that in the end everything will be all right. Nothing can harm you permanently, no suffering is irrevocable, no loss is lasting, no defeat is more transitory, no disappointment is conclusive. Jesus did not deny the reality of suffering, discouragement, disappointment, frustration, and death. He simply stated that the Kingdom of God would conquer all of these horrors, that the Father’s love is so prodigal that no evil could possibly resist it.

—From Reflections for Ragamuffins by Brennan Manning

I cannot love this any more than what I do! BM wrecks me with a lot of his writing, but this offering just explodes in HOPE, FAITH, JOY, and PEACE. Sometimes the gospel is just “too good” to be true for most folks.  Come on Church!  It’s true! Fear not! —MDP

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strangely warmed

November 8, 2022 4 comments

In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation: And an assurance was given me, that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death. 

—Rev. John Wesley

“I felt my heart strangely warmed.”


It’s good every time I read it. Assurance is the byproduct of an awareness of the presence of grace… truth inside… working in us… in our heart… in our soul… in our mind… even our strength. It’s the end of wondering about it all. We can now finally see AND feel that grace in us. God is our divine parent… and we are God’s beloved children. We have always been so, but now we know it is a love and care that we cannot escape from. —MDP



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October 26, 2022 8 comments

Wednesday nights at my church are interesting. A small group of people gather for a little table fellowship, a meal, a few grins and giggles, a few words from me on stuff I find spiritually interesting, and then they’re off to Bells, and/or Choir practice, and/or their recliners at home. Recently I read some stuff to them about wisdom. One of my favorite authors likens prayer to being awake to God’s presence and being aware of God’s presence.  This is wisdom:

“It is usually over time and with patience that we come to see the wonderful patterns of grace, which is why it takes most of us a long time to be converted. Our focus slowly moves from an initial preoccupation with perfect actions (first half of life issues), to naked presence itself. The code word for that is simply prayer, but it became cheapened by misuse.” -Richard Rohr

I have no idea if my beloved people appreciate or care about the tokens I give them to ponder, but I’m convinced the time-released process will eventually have a positive effect. Maybe. Hopefully.

With that said, I cried this morning as I read from Brian Doyle. Thoughts of my dad, my grandparents, and other lost loved ones came to memory with sorted trinkets of weirdness that are still dear to my heart. Memories are a blessing, most of the time. But physical touch, smell, and tangible presence are all beyond description. I miss them all deeply.

Honestly, I don’t know how Brian’s words will land on you. There is no expectation on my end, only hope that something clicks inside of your spirit, as it did when I read his words. Presence does things like that. The Spirit lands differently on us all. Isn’t that awesome?

Love to you! —MDP


A friend of mine is dying in the fast lane, he says, smiling at the image, for no man ever loved as much as he did zooming those long stretches of highway in the West, where there are no speed limits or curves or cops and nothing to kill you but sudden antelopes. But now he can see his exit up ahead, he says, and he has slowed down to enjoy the ride. He’s been pondering the sparrows, who do not sow and neither do they reap, he says, shuffling into his yard armed with fistfuls of seed.

The woman who loves him watches him go, smiling. There are so very many tiny things that are exactly him and no other man on earth, she says: When he shaves his neck every other day he bangs his razor against the right side of the sink, and there’s a little tiny scatter of hairs, which drives me stark raving insane, because never once in forty years has he remembered to rinse that off, despite one million promises to do exactly that. One time I wrote the words clean the sink! actually in the sink, with a big red arrow pointing to the place where he bangs his razor, which made him laugh so hard I thought he was going to lose a kidney, which he didn’t, nor did he clean the sink. Also he has a pair of boxers that are so incredibly ancient and threadbare you can, I kid you not, see through them. It’s like eight threads with a waistband holding them together, but God forbid he throws them out. I have pointed out to him that this article of clothing is no longer serving the purpose for which it was designed, but he won’t let them go, which tells you something about his commitment, or his craziness. Also he has a weird habit of slicing off the crust of a loaf of bread an inch at a time, which drives me stark raving insane, each piece the size of a quarter, which leaves a naked, crustless loaf of bread on the table, and who wants a loaf that looks like a skinned snake? Also even before he got sick, he shuffled, you know? He never lifts his feet. The kids and I always thought it was because he’s distracted all the time. There are ten things going on in his head at once, and walking properly is just not on his priority list, walking is something he can do on autopilot. But it sounds like there’s a rhinoceros in the hallway, and after you hear that ten thousand times, you want to shriek, My god, will you walk like a normal person! But he’s not normal, you know. That’s the point. Also he hums all the time, and he doesn’t hear it. Every day a new set of songs. Lately it’s all Beach Boys, all the time. He says he used to get in trouble in school when he was a kid because he would be humming during tests and exams and driving the other kids and the teacher stark raving insane. Same thing happened at work, he says: he would be in meetings with his soundtrack going full blast, and after a while he’d wonder why everybody was staring at him. I have been listening to his humming for forty years, and, me personally, I think Van Morrison is the all-time playlist champion, although there was a long stretch there, two or three years, where it was mostly West Coast jazz, Chet Baker and Art Pepper and stuff like that. See, that’ll all be gone when he goes, and that’s what makes me cry at night. Mostly we just try to enjoy the time we have left, but sometimes I think ahead to when the sink will be totally clean in the morning, and that will be awful, or the bread won’t have white holes where he’s cut off pieces of crust the size of a quarter. What kind of raving lunatic would do such a thing? Only him. People think what we’ll miss most is his humor and kindness and all that, which sure we will, but lately I think what we’ll miss the most is his weirdness. His weirdness is what he was. Everybody else saw him as a good guy, but we saw him as the humming rhinoceros in the hallway, you know what I mean? And sometimes I get really scared of waking up in the morning and not hearing that stupid shuffle. I hate that shuffle. I love that shuffle. That’s as close as I can get to what I am trying to say.

Let’s go feed the sparrows with him. You will not be surprised to hear that he has a weird thing going with feeding the birds: a different seed every week, and he keeps track of which ones they like. He has a piece of paper pinned up on the garage near the bird feeder with his charts on it and also, God help me, a section for comments from the birds, with a little tiny pencil. I told you the man was a total nut. Did you think I was kidding? I was not kidding. What kind of man would go to the trouble of making a pencil exactly two centimeters long? It works too. He tested it, of course. And it tells you something about him that, deep in his heart, he wouldn’t be surprised if someday he shuffled out to feed the birds and found a tiny complaint written there. Nobody who ever lived would be happier to find a complaint from the sparrows about the seed of the week, believe me. He’ll probably write a little tiny reply from the management, you know? With a promise to do better.

—Bryan Doyle, The Sun Magazine (Issue 428) “His Weirdness” August 2011.

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holy tears

October 12, 2022 8 comments

The ancient East understood there to be different types of tears, some of spiritual origin and import, or others not. Spiritual tears in themselves were variously categorized and described. They could have purifying power. They might function differently for those just beginning on spiritual journey and for those far along. They could be provoked by memory of sin and well as consideration of the goodness of God, the desire for heaven, the fear of hell, or the thought of judgment.

Overwhelmingly, tears were understood as a gracious God-given gift, a wonderful physical sign that the inner world of a person was being transformed. There is in these ancient Eastern masters a sense of the ongoing cleansing taking place as a person draws nearer to God. Tears thus become, in a sense, a sign of the continuing power of the baptismal waters to redeem the created world.

—Wendy M. Wright, “Tears of a Greening Heart,” Weavings

Overwhelmingly, tears were understood as a gracious God-given gift, a wonderful physical sign that the inner world of a person was being transformed.”


I find this somewhat comforting and confirming of something that I have thought and experience for a really long time. Although I’ve not used the words “spiritual tears,” I have believed that tears often signal the Spirit’s working inside of my stodgy heart works. Dry seasons, life pressures, disappointments, betrayals, fatigue, and other hard things can quickly dry up the life-giving moisture inside our emotional eco system. The Spirit’s interruption to those rhythms of thorns and thistle seem to show up when we least expect it, but mostly need it. Often… people get agitated or embarrassed by those sudden flashes of tears. I’ve come to believe that tears signal not so much our over-whelming grief… as more of a reminder that the presence of God is “there” in the moment, up close, soothing and comforting our thirst for living waters. If I’m right… those tears are pure gift! —MDP


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