The Journey Backward

We talk a lot about “moving forward”—whether in a business meeting or a relationship or an aspect of personal spirituality. United States culture is generally obsessed with productivity, profit margin, and success. And we can carry that obsession into our attitude about moving forward. Progress is the key! Some of the most powerful spiritual practices, however, aid us in moving backward. The journey backward can balance our constant anxiety about going forward. What does the […]

Healing and Comfort

Sometimes God heals and comforts us, like Jesus did for Jairus’s daughter, the woman with the hemorrhage, and Peter’s mother-in-law. Sometimes God heals and comforts through us, and we find that in working to heal and comfort one another we’ve also brought great comfort to God. You Heal Us in Secret You heal us in secret and silently, when we but touch Your clothes; You say our faith is the cause; how is it You […]

After the Fever, Service

This post is based on Week Six of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure. It’s the Sabbath. Jesus must surely have been looking forward to a peaceful Sabbath meal at Simon Peter’s house, after teaching in the synagogue, curing a demoniac, and enduring the commotion that ensued (Mark 1:21–28). Instead, they told him about Simon’s mother-in-law, who “lay sick with a fever,” and he “came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the […]

The Consequences of Seeing

This story is inspired by John 9:1–41, the healing of the man born blind, and Mark 10:46–52, the healing of Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus and I talked about it. His healing was immediate. Not mine. I must have looked like a fool stumbling down the road, mud on my eyes. “What was the first thing you saw?” I asked Bartimaeus. “The face of Jesus. You?” “My own reflection in the pool.” As we sat looking—just looking—at the […]

Touch Heals and Restores

While all of our senses help us to learn and to know about the world, the sense of touch is perhaps the most intimate. Our skin defines our very boundaries as physical persons and is a point of connection to other people, nature, and objects in our world. All of us had fundamental experiences of touch in our receiving nurture as babies: we were held when we were fed, rocked and soothed when upset, and […]

True Healing

“True healing happens when we allow Jesus’ mercy to enter into the deepest layers of brokenness within us,” asserts Beth Knobbe in a post titled “Jesus the Healer.” Knobbe writes: Jesus desires to go to the very depth of our pain. He sees beneath the surface to the source of our hurts, uncovering our deepest needs, even those masked by surface level scars. During this Lenten season, can I bring my own brokenness and sinfulness […]

Healing the Wounds

In his recent interview, Pope Francis said, “Christian hope”¦is a theological virtue and therefore, ultimately, a gift from God.” As I read those words, I could not help but think of the sign of hope, a gift from God, that Pope Francis is to me. It is not because he is rebuking Church teaching—which he isn’t—or because he is making a stance with one interpretation of the Church versus another. It is simply because of who he […]

God’s Gaze

One of the biggest revelations one can have in prayer is that he or she is loved, especially those who have experienced trauma or abandonment. When I was a hospital chaplain I would often recommend this prayer: imagine God gazing down on you and ask yourself how he feels. This prayer is Ignatian in that it is inspired by the meditation on the Incarnation, which involves the Trinity looking down on the world. God’s gaze […]

What Does God Think of You?

“Imagine God thinking about you. What do you assume God feels when you come to mind?” That question begins David Benner’s Surrender to Love which I have been reading recently.  In our heads we mostly know what the correct answer is, or should be: Of course God loves us.  But deep in our hearts, it’s not that easy.  Our sense of being a disappointment or of being a sinner or of simply not being all […]