Extraordinary Moments in Ordinary Time

I watched the five-year-old children in swimsuits step gingerly up to the font. Climbing the two stairs up seemed pretty easy, but every one of them waited before taking two steps down. What was their hesitation? Every eye in the packed church was focused on the font as the four children waited their turns. Excitement was building among the assembly, as if each of us was willing the children to step forward. We held a […]

Story Hoarder

We get donations from families of deceased hoarders occasionally at St. Vinnies. They bring in boxes and bags of everything imaginable, most of which should have been discarded decades ago. Hoarders are a trendy fixation. There are reality shows about hoarders, books about hoarders, magazine articles about them, and jokes about them. There are newspaper hoarders, food hoarders, fabric hoarders, and cat hoarders. With all the recent press about hoarding, many people are looking into […]

Cannonball Moments

My car entered into a spin that left me pressing locked brakes and clutching a wheel that could not be steered. Halfway through the spin, the momentum brought the car onto its outer two wheels—the side where the gas tank is housed. The sounds of the steel arching beneath me as the car fought to right itself inspired my desperate prayer: “Lord, is this the day I’m going to see you? If it’s ok with […]

God at the Root of Patience

Sometimes I find myself in a rush, desperately trying to accomplish as much as possible, as efficiently as possible. While high energy and my naturally fast pace fit well in today’s American culture, this “productive” lifestyle has a downside that took years for me to realize: distance from God. Patience usually requires cultivation, because few of us are born patient. Witness any infant: instantly demanding when the slightest discomfort arises. Yet experiencing the peace that […]

Grateful for Anything—Except Dirty Looks

Driving home from work, I regularly see panhandlers standing at the freeway off-ramp. I hesitate to find Christ in them or give them money. For one thing, it’s a dangerous place to stand. I’m suspicious about how my money will be spent. It could be a scam. Plus I do plenty of other charitable works. Most days it’s someone different. But there’s one “regular,” a young man with varying cardboard signs. Guilt used to fill […]

Take a Walk and Breathe

I was fortunate to grow up in a family that understood how to dwell in outdoor space. We lived in a small town in the middle of farm country; most people had big yards, many of them filled with flowers, vegetable gardens, trees, swing sets, treehouses, and pets. I can remember sitting in our backyard with my parents, and all we did was watch the various birds that flitted in the trees and visited the […]

What Was God Calling Me to Do?

“Uh, Mom?” my son said, motioning towards the window of our parked car. Outside the window, uncomfortably close, stood a slight woman, her face lined with age. I rolled down the window. With nary an introduction, the words starting pouring out. Decades ago, she had come from deep in the South. She had worked in the circus, had been a barn hand, a stage hand, a waitress, and a house cleaner. She wanted to know […]

Finding God at the Shrine of St. Gianna

A key concept of Ignatian spirituality is finding God in all things. Learning to find God in the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the uplifting and the painful is indeed an important part of deepening our relationship with Jesus. However, every once in a while, it seems like God flashes a spotlight on his presence, painting the most glorious picture right before our eyes such that we simply couldn’t miss God […]

Unstylish

She is unstylish in the best sense of the word. She walks into the store with a bag too big and bulky to be tucked neatly under her arm. Her slacks have smudges on both knees from some task that required bending them. Her hair is pulled back in a ponytail, the cut that the population of women who cannot afford to go to the beauty shop every six weeks wears. The only jewelry she […]

Springtime Scents

We’re somewhere in the middle of spring, which here in Chicago means temperatures jumping from winter-like lows to summer-like highs. The changing of seasons (even all within the same calendar season of spring) makes me more aware of my senses, particularly the sense of smell. Freshly mown grass and flowering plants are just two of the more obvious scents spring brings to my nose. Some people love these smells. I’m a little less enthused about […]

1 2 3 39